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In this Louisville Outdoor Lighting Debate, Everybody Wins

Where would you weigh in on this debate: Downlighting vs. Uplighting? If you already enjoy professional outdoor lighting at your home, do you know which of these lighting techniques was used in your outdoor lighting design? If you don’t have outdoor lighting yet, just follow along and imagine which of these techniques you would like illuminating your home. Then call Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Louisville right away to request downlighting and uplighting at your home!

Landscape Lighting: Is it Downlighting or Uplighting?

When you think of landscape lighting, do you picture the lights shining in one direction or the other, either down or up? (For now, let’s set trees aside, because they warrant their own discussion, below.) If you answered “both,” you are correct. Landscape lighting can be quite varied because of the many different profiles we can light throughout your property.

uplighting outdoor lighting on home


Path lighting is one of the places you’ll see downlighting at work. Path lighting fixtures usually have a hood on them, almost like a cap, directing all of their light down to the ground and covering the light so that none of it is aimed upward. One reason for that is to minimize light pollution. We don’t need light going just everywhere! If you have a trellis, gazebo or pergola tucked into your landscape, you likely have downlighting to illuminate that lovely feature.

Uplighting has many purposes within a landscape. Uplighting is the technique our professional lighting designers use for focal lighting. When you select your smaller trees, favorite shrubs and flower beds to be illuminated, we use uplighting. We place a light in the ground or we mount it and aim it upwards to illuminate a specific item of beauty. Think of a Japanese maple tree lit from below, with a wide wash of illumination reaching the width of its beautiful canopy. Uplighting is flexible in terms of the breadth of its beam and its brightness. If your landscape includes sculptures or a water feature, we will use uplighting to show these off most effectively.

Lighting Your Outdoor Living Spaces

We use downlighting quite effectively above outdoor kitchens, outdoor dining areas and under covered porches. Hardscape lighting is accomplished through downlighting, and we also use it specifically for task lighting. On your deck, we use downlighting under railings and on the posts at the top of your deck stairs for safety. If you have built-in benches on your deck, we can use downlighting under the benches, creating a subtle light that glows just perfectly. You might call this effect “otherworldly.”

downlight on outdoor walkway

Architectural Lighting Shows Your Home in its Best Light!

Architectural lighting can be wonderfully dramatic and understated at the same time. Here we use uplighting and we play with the width of the light beams. Whereas we use the widest beam to highlight the canopy of a Japanese maple, for architectural lighting we narrow the beam to reach the highest peak of your gable roof. On the way up, the light teases out the texture of your home’s siding—beautiful with stone veneer siding!—and reveals the color and depth of your home’s façade. Uplighting can bring your home’s posts and columns into focus as well as any other vertical features you have.

Downlighting vs. Uplighting: Let’s Hear It for the Trees!

Large, tall trees offer the ideal placement for our favorite downlighting technique called moonlighting. We need the ladders for this one! Our lighting technician will place a light fixture in a tall tree so you can see light filtering down through the tree’s branches. Moonlighting gives the appearance of beautiful moonlight as it dances through your tree’s branches, and the best part is you can see it every day of the month! In contrast, if you have a tree with a huge trunk—especially if it has distinctive features—we may use uplighting to highlight that without reaching up through branches and leaves.

uplighting vs downlighting

Luckily we don’t have to choose between downlighting and uplighting, so there’s no need to have a debate. Your lighting designer from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Louisville will select the lighting technique most suited for each element you choose to feature in your yard and on your home. Both techniques contribute to the overall stunning effect of beautifully designed and installed outdoor lighting. Illuminated but not showy, elegant and understated, your home will be the envy of the neighborhood.

Whatever lighting techniques you choose, we are your best choice for design and installation! Start today with an outdoor lighting design consultation to see how we can add delight to your property. Call (502) 237-5178 or email today.