10 deck lighting ideas to brighten your outdoor space

Use your garden well into the evening with our smart ways to add glow

Now that we’re getting a taste of the warmer weather to come, with spring sunshine and brighter skies, our attention turns to the garden once again. Clever use of deck lighting ideas mean you'll be enjoying your space for as long as you desire.

From a design perspective, you should give just as much dedication to the lighting of decking ideas as you would do the lighting inside of your home. If you have a decking area, treat this space just like another room and use it for entertaining, dining and relaxing.

Depending on your choice of garden ideas, your deck could be positioned against the back of the house, halfway up the lawn or down the end in its own enclosed area. Wherever it's situated, there's a perfect way to light it just right.

Deck lighting ideas

If you don’t yet have any decking in your garden and are planning to install one from scratch then now’s the best time to get creative about your deck lighting ideas. Before you embark on the big build, think about where you want to have some illumination and what activities you will be using certain areas for. Perhaps your new decking will incorporate steps that would benefit from some soft spotlights. Or maybe you’re going to have a dedicated barbecuing area where a built-in pillar lamp would be handy.

If you already have a decked area then there’s much you can do to refresh its lighting. For some inspiration, we’ve compiled our pick of the best ways you can bring a glow to your decked space. These range from decorative lanterns and hanging festoon lights to professionally installed spotlights.

1. Hang festoon lights overhead

garden area with sofa and fire place

(Image credit: Future PLC/Astrid Rossington)

One of the simplest deck lighting ideas to bring to your outdoor space is to hang some festoon lights. Drape them from two anchor points, such as between fence panels in a corner, or from the boughs of a tree. If you have an outdoor power socket then utilise that, but there are plenty of solar-powered or battery-operated versions available.

If your decked area is at the bottom of the garden and in need of further illumination, then you can introduce it by way of portable lanterns, candles and solar-powered decorative lights.

This is a wonderful way to disguise or brighten up deck rail ideas, too. Always a plus!

2. Carry a lantern to where you need it

deck in garden with lantern

(Image credit: Feuerhand)

You’ll be surprised by how much of a glow a handled hanging lantern will cast. Genuine gas versions aren’t common these days, but you can pick up solar-powered ones or candle versions fairly readily. Group them in trios and place in the corners of the decking for a stylish look or pop atop a dining table if you’re dining al fresco.

And don’t forget you can hang these, too. They’ll look great in a mix of colours and positioned from an overhead pergola at varying heights.

3. Light up the underside of a garden brolly

deck area with pool and candles

(Image credit: Koopower)

If you’re standing on your decked area wondering where you’re going to hang lights – there’s no nearby tree, fence or other highpoint – then stop right there. With a bit of clever thinking there’s no need to worry. We’ll have you casting a glow from above in no time.

Every outdoor space can have a parasol, and you can use yours to bring in those extra garden lighting ideas. Wrap exterior fairy lights around its shaft and entwine them through the ribs and stretchers of its canopy. Solar powered or battery-operated, these are inexpensive and a great way to introduce some lighting wherever you need it.

4. Install permanent downlighters on a wall

garden area with white sofa and table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Logan Irvine-MacDougal)

If your garden benefits from an exterior brick wall – either the back of the house or as a boundary wall – then use it to mount permanent downlighters. A professional electrician will be able to install them and provide you with a switch inside your home to operate them with. They work well above sofa seating, lighting the area for reading and relaxing as the night draws in.

You can also buy directional spotlights that can be installed in the same way and then moved to cast light wherever you need it. Perhaps you have special outdoor wall decor ideas that you want to enlighten in the evening.

Team fixed wall lights with other options that you can move around the decking. Hurricane lanterns with candles or portable solar powered designs are perfect.

5. Go for strip lighting along the deck edge

deck area with lawn and glass doors

(Image credit: Composite Prime)

Whether you are installing a new decked area or have one already in place, adding striplighting or inserting permanent mains-supplied lights can create a focus point in certain spaces. 'Deck lighting is the perfect way to finish a decked space and gives the opportunity to showcase garden paths and frame zones created in your outdoor space,' says Charles Taylor, Director at Composite Prime. Why not install lighting at floor level on your composite decking ideas around a seating area to create an ambient space to sit and entertain guests.

'The installation of deck lighting is simple, but requires precise planning to position the lights,' continues Charles. 'They can be inset into the tops of boards, or set into fascia boards to give an impactful finish. And strip lighting can be placed under an overhanging edge; these lights work best when illuminating steps and edges.'

6. Spark up a firepit for a warming glow

deck area with lighting and fire pit

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Fire pits are another of many fantastic deck lighting ideas that make a lovely feature for the garden. Ensure you follow the appropriate instructions for lighting a fire pit on decking. It’ll not only give you extra warmth allowing you to spend more time outside, well into nightfall, but it’ll also cast a lovely flickering glow.

Some options can be used for cooking as well, so if you want to double up then make sure you find the best BBQ for your space.

Perhaps not the brightest light source, so it’s advisable to use additional lighting such as festoon lights, candles in lanterns and even a floor-standing lamp. A tall light will make a fabulous feature to any outdoor zone, creating a living room feel. You may need a mains outlet for most designs, but you can find some that are solar-powered.

7. Push lights into flower pots

garden flower plants with lamp lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

When on the hunt for deck lighting ideas, you can also trust a solar-powered option. Stake-lights are a quick win in any outdoor space: balcony, garden, courtyard and, of course, patio ideas. Simply push them into plant pots or garden borders and leave them to light the way.

You can find them in all sorts of shapes and sizes but we particularly love this design that emulates streetlights. They’ll work perfectly alongside a path or near to some decking steps.

8. Zone areas with different light sources

deck area with bbq stand and sofa

(Image credit: Industville/Photographer: Joanna Kossak)

If you have several different areas in your garden, especially if it’s a small space, then you can use lighting as a way to create some delineation.

If you can, it’s a good idea to have separate switches installed to operate the lights independently from one another, this gives you the opportunity to shut off certain areas into darkness and better control the ambience at night. Always ensure you use a reputable professional for any electrical work and seek advice for what’s possible in your outdoor space.

9. Navigate steps easily with perfectly placed spots

deck area with wooden bench and flower plants

(Image credit: Trex)

If your garden incorporates a large expanse of decking, especially if it extends from the rear of your home like shown here, then you’ll find you need several lighting options. Think about which areas on the decking that you’re going to use for seating, dining and planting, then bring in the deck lighting ideas that are relevant. 'By adding lighting to your decking terrace, you naturally soften the space, make it more inviting and look super stylish,”'says Karl Harrison, Pro Landscaper and Decking Expert from Trex.

'Step or stair riser lighting is very important so you can see the steps in the evening; it’s vital to show people the way.' Small spotlights recessed into the step risers will cast an elegant glow, illuminating the deck whilst serving a practical use.

'Another way to illuminate a decked garden is to add lighting into the planting areas,' suggests Karl. 'A garden with lighting will feel cosier during the evenings and add a romantic touch.'

10. Hang solar-powered bulbs from nearby trees

deck area with hanging bulbs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

You don’t need to spend a fortune to illuminate your garden beautifully. There are plenty of affordable solar-powered or battery-operated lights available – you’ll find variations to choose from in your local garden centre. These hanging solar-powered light bulbs are a fantastic example of an inexpensive deck lighting idea.

Whether in a string of multiple lights or in single bulbs, hang them from the boughs of trees, along fence panels or from the struts of a garden pergola. How pretty would these look, dotted in a cherry blossom tree in bloom in the springtime.

What is the best way to light a deck?

If you don’t yet have a deck and are building one from scratch then the best way to light it is with some smart planning. You can have lights incorporated into the build of the deck, though this isn’t essential. There is plenty you can do to retrofit lights into the decking, or even use portable options or lights that could be used with either patio, decking, lawn or flower beds.

What’s most important is you think about what you’re going to be using the decking for, and where in particular. 'Lighting is such an important element of your exterior, so plan the position of lighting with forethought,' says Sanel Konyar, Interior Designer and Founder of Interior Kollection. 'Aim your light carefully. If you wish to create feature lighting, you don’t want the lights directed at eye level. You want to create a welcoming, soft ambience, not make your guests feel as though they are under a spotlight beam.'

'Low-level lighting is also great to create ambience and can be used to guide guests along paths and steps. There are a vast array of solar lights that are perfect for this, and can be moved around to suit your needs and layout with ease,' Sanel continues.

How bright should deck lights be?

The beauty with decking lighting is that you have the freedom to achieve a look that suits the needs of your decking. Mains electrical supplied bulbs will provide a brighter source that is longer lasting than a solar-operated counterpart that will dull as its energy depletes throughout the evening; they’re also less reliable during the shoulder seasons when there's less daylight than you’d expect during the height of summer.

The more bulbs you have, the brighter the illumination will be so think about where you want the light to be positioned – festoon lights will spread light in smaller pockets of glow whereas a spotlight or downlight will direct its glow with more precision.

For subtle, intimate lighting why not try candles (faux are a great alternative to real flames), lanterns or even a small fire or chiminea. 'Sources of heat, such as fire pits, heaters and tabletop fires allow you to enjoy your garden comfortably when the temperature outside is less than appealing,' says Patrick Bridge, Chief Operations Officer at Harbour Lifestyle. 'Plus, these impressive flame displays provide lighting for those dark evenings.'

Our top tip is that if you choose to have a variety of light sources, just think about which ones you have switched on or in use, and when. You don’t want everything illuminated at the same time – else you risk your decking looking like Blackpool Illuminations!

Lizzie Hudson

Lizzie is an experienced and highly-regarded freelance writer and editor, specialising in interiors and women’s lifestyle. She has been producing inspiring content for print and digital platforms for over 15 years, having worked with some of the UK’s leading brands. Most proudly, she is the former Editor for Style at Home, but has also held the reins for Grand Designs, Homemaker and House Beautiful during her exciting career. Brimming with ideas, Lizzie is passionate about all things interiors and loves nothing more than bringing real home stories to life through creative content work that will inspire others.