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Which Trees Make the Best Candidates for Tree Lighting and What Is the Best Way to Light Them?

Here at Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Clearwater & Tampa Bay, I am often asked which trees make the best candidates for tree lighting. This is because most homeowners want to take advantage of the best aesthetic return by making sure to choose the right tree(s) in their West Central Florida landscape. My answer is simple; when you are looking for the tree that will make the biggest impact in your landscape you want to choose a tree with character. This may be an oak tree with outstretched, reaching branches or a palm tree with impressive plumes.

Palm trees with uplighting

Trees, as a species, naturally have a great deal of character, as no two trees look alike. Choosing specific trees within your landscape for tree lighting can breathe new life into your landscape and give your entire property a distinct feel. Palms, for example, have a unique branching structure that is all their own. Their abundant overlapping branching pattern is beautiful to look at and makes a wonderful focus for tree lighting designs. Their bark, wide caliber trunks and tall height exudes majesty and presence and is one of the most requested trees by our customers to use as a focal tree lighting candidate.

Oak trees, on the other hand, are hauntingly beautiful trees. Their sweeping, curved limbs create a branching pattern that conveys wisdom and elegance in the landscape. When oak trees are lit using certain lighting techniques they cast shadows in the areas surrounding the tree that mimic light dancing from the glow of a full moon; eerie but yet quite beautiful at the same time.

Tree lighting is a key component of outdoor lighting design. Lighting statement trees can add depth and interest to your overall landscape. There are three main tree lighting techniques that we apply frequently: these are spotlighting, moonlighting and shadowing.

Side by side images of three trees with special lighting


With spotlighting, fixtures are installed at the base of the tree and are pointed up towards it. By having the lights at ground level, the light is able to illuminate the trunk and many of the tree’s branches.

Plants with special lighting


This is a much more subtle tree lighting technique. Just as its name suggests, moonlighting mimics the effect of light from the moon. The fixtures are installed high in the branches of the trees positioned downward or even on adjacent structures to ensure light is cast through the trunk and branches of the tree casting lovely shadows on the ground.

Residential yard with landscape lighting


With shadowing the sole focus is not only the tree but also about the shadow that the tree creates. Shadowing is often used when the tree is in front of a wall or home as a way to add depth, texture and a certain level of mystery to your landscape. The fixtures are placed in front of the tree and are cast at an angle to place the shadow in the desired spot.

To learn more about how tree lighting can enhance your Clearwater, Tampa Bay or St. Petersburg landscape contact us today at (727) 513-3420 or via email at