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What is the Difference Between Uplighting and Down Lighting?

Us expert lighting designers have a plethora of tricks up our sleeves. Some of our lighting techniques are rarely mentioned in words to the clients, while other industry lingo is widely heard even if the client doesn’t quite know what it means.

Outdoor lighting, in its broadest sense, can be divided into two main categories.

plam tree lighting Uplighting


Down Lighting

Our experts work closely with you to choose the lighting that will best achieve your goals for function and aesthetics. You don’t need to know the techniques, we’ll handle that, you just have to know how you want to use the space and what you want it to look like. Typically, a full landscape lighting system will include a combination of both uplighting and down lighting.

So what is the difference?

Outdoor Uplighting

Uplighting is when a light source is added below the desired focal point and shined up on it.

Uplighting can be a highly concentrated light beam for focal lighting. This technique is often called “spotlighting” and allows a favorite landscape feature to become the star of the show. It can also be a brighter light for washing up the side of a tall building to show off its height.

Uplighting can be a broad wash of light to illuminate the flowering canopy of a gorgeous ornamental tree or the texture of a building’s façade.

Whether the light is focused directly on its target or is barely brushing along the side to show off texture – uplighting is a favorite way to add lights to residential properties with lights installed in the ground.

garden lighting Outdoor Down Lighting

The opposite of uplighting, down lighting is when a light is mounted above the desired target to shine down on it.

Down lighting is an excellent method for shining light on a large area from high above. It provides the opportunity for illuminating a large space such as a patio or playground. Our favorite technique is when we mount the light in a tree to create a moonlighting effect as the light shines down through the branches.

Downlighting is also used to add depth to focal features – sometimes, we use it in conjunction with an uplight to really spotlight a specific focal point.

If you’re interested in illuminating the gorgeous features and functional areas of your property for nighttime enjoyment, call our team today to schedule a nighttime demonstration.