Lighting Up Your World
23 Jun 2023

How to Light Your Pool for the Ultimate Summer Experience

(Originally posted on

How to Light Your Pool for the Ultimate Summer Experience

The landscape lighting industry is thriving due to homeowners’ desire to create comfortable, memorable outdoor experiences. That desire quadruples when the weather improves, and homeowners crave the ultimate summertime experience in their backyard at night. This can mean different things to different people, but one typically clear focus in summer is the pool. There’s nothing quite like a leisurely late-night swim in your very own pool.

But, without outdoor lighting, that perfect dip can be a little more tricky, less enjoyable, and a little more dangerous (and not in a thrilling James Bond kind of way.) Part of the fun of diving into your pool at night is to be able to see it and enjoy its gorgeous features. But, it’s equally important to see the features, which in darkness could become obstacles or hazards. To make things simple for you as a pool owner, we’ve compiled a list of seven pool lighting ideas to consider to enhance your pool experience in the summer.

1. Moonlighting

Let’s start with one of our favorite advanced landscape lighting techniques: Moonlighting. Doesn’t it sound dreamy? Night swimming in glistening water, with that subtle and soft moonlight glow effect?

People often create a moonlighting effect using tree-mounted lighting like our CAST Classic Tree Lights. Alternatively, you can install lights around the elevated areas near the pool or the soffits of your home or pool house.

The key to a great moonlight effect is ensuring the lights are not too bright or harsh. Proper lighting placement will create even and consistent lighting.

Moonlighting adds life to your pool and deck. It can create the perfect atmosphere for a romantic or cozy summer evening with friends and family.

2. Directional Lights for Structures & Greenery

The swimming pool isn’t the only focus that’ll create a great summertime experience, and it certainly shouldn’t be the homeowner’s only investment. Make sure to also show off gorgeous plant life, flower beds, and treescapes with traditional above-ground directional lights for expert uplighting.

Structures such as a cabana, pergola, or outdoor kitchen area are equally as important. To really enhance that relaxing resort-like experience, show off these amazing assets and architectural features by illuminating them at night with uplights and soft wash lights. It’ll also make the space far more useful in the evenings.

3. Deck Lighting

If you have kids or like hosting regular get-togethers over the summer, there’s a strong likelihood that your pool sees a lot of activity and foot traffic. One way to avoid damaging a light fixture—or worse, having an injured guest—is through deck lighting.

Besides the practical illumination, deck lighting also creates an aesthetic appeal to your pool area.

There are various options to light up your deck, like post lighting, where you install pool lights on top of deck posts and railing posts. You can also use in-ground lights, like our recessed mini narrow spot-up lights, to illuminate your decking.

When selecting lights, you need to choose appropriate light fixtures that can withstand outdoor elements, especially water, considering they will be installed around the pool. Some of the best materials for outdoor pool deck lighting include bronze, brass, and stainless steel.

4. Water Features

Water features deserve their own landscape lighting strategy and design.

Waterfalls, for instance, are magnificent and serene in their own right, and lighting them at night only adds to their majesty and peace. Consider backlighting from underneath the cascade, showcasing the water’s playful dancing and shimmering.

Alternatively, a wash light at the pool’s edge or a nearby tree could spill across the waterfall evenly for a calming atmosphere. To add drama and liveliness, position the lights where the waterfall breaks the pool’s surface, emphasizing movement and the splashing bubbles.

5. Wall Lights

Remember the cardinal rule: Pool goers—and anyone in an outdoor living space—should see the effect of the light, not the power source. Walls lights are excellent for carrying out this rule.

The small and subtle wall lights are designed to be hidden—an afterthought—casting light downward onto a more interesting aspect of the landscape design and the textured hardscape it’s attached to.

You can install the wall lights throughout your pool’s hardscapes, their textured walls, sitting walls, fire pits and fire pit benches, and more. This way, you will provide safety and convenience for people using the pool at night and highlight architectural features to help create a great ambiance.

Another popular option for pool wall lighting is uplighting. You can use fixtures like our CAST Craftsman Wash Light to illuminate architectural features and plants and trees.

Ultimately, the type of light fixtures and placement of wall lights you choose should match the look and feel you want to achieve. By selecting the right fixtures and considering the size and type of pool, you will create an inviting and beautiful pool space, perfect for outdoor entertaining in the summer.

6. Lighting Zones, Dimmers, & Mood

Pool area lighting should make use of dimmers—specifically around the hot tubs and poolside dining areas. Think pergolas, cabanas, and lux lounge areas with firepits.

The concept of separate lighting zones should also be applied since it allows you to create certain tasks or moods. This is an especially important element when aiming for a usable outdoor and recreation space around the pool.

Separate lighting zones also give you control of certain outdoor spaces. For example, you can turn lights on or off and dim them as needed while the rest of the landscape, such as the home, remains permanently lit on a timer.

Optional zones, where dimming should be available, include intimate areas like a hot tub which need low and soft light to create a romantic or relaxed mood. Functional areas like an outdoor kitchen need a bright light that makes it easy to see when grilling and entertaining. Dimming control is the key to creating that perfect poolside atmosphere.

7. Glare

A relaxing evening by the pool can be dampened if there’s an annoying white light glare coming off the water or anywhere else that can impair your eyesight and result in an accident. As anti-glare experts, we’ll be the first to tell you lighting a pool area is all about safety and comfort. This can be achieved with glare-free LED light bulbs.

To prevent glare from and around the pool, remember that people should see the effect of a light, not the source itself. This can be executed in a few different ways. One popular solution is to hide the fixtures in the plant life so that only the effect of the light is seen and appreciated.

Another idea is to focus on key landscape design elements using the appropriate lighting techniques. All aspects of your outdoor lighting design should work together to brighten the area properly. For instance, if you have a textured wall around a side of your pool deck, you can use a directional light that crossfades up it. Essentially, the trick is not to accidentally shine light into the water, which creates glare.

We recommend getting a pro installer from CAST to ensure safety and glare prevention in this potentially dangerous recreational area.

Here’s to Summer!

Here’s to making your pool-going experience a splash hit this summer! And with these seven pool lighting ideas, there’s no doubt it will be. Just remember lighting a pool and the surrounding area is about maximizing safety, usability, and comfort.

The right lighting will highlight your prized landscape features and create a luxurious resort-like outdoor experience. With the right ambiance, you’ll know it’s time to kick your feet up—poolside—and enjoy all the work you put into making this summer in your backyard the best one yet.


23 Jun 2023

5 Great Ways to Light Your Outdoor Steps

(Originally posted on
Lighting your outdoor steps can make the difference between an ordinary and extraordinary result. It helps to highlight the natural beauty of your outdoor walking areas. Through lighting, you can create a warm ambiance for everyone to enjoy after dark.

Whether you’ve got steps to the back, side, or front of your property, the correct outdoor lights have a big impact. This guide covers five great ways to light your outdoor steps so that your home looks modern and stylish.

But before we discuss the best ways to light your outdoor steps, let’s touch on why outdoor lighting matters and whether or not it’ll work for you.

Why Outdoor Lighting Matters

We often advise that when you’re ready to take your property to the next level with landscape lighting, or even just toying with the idea, start small. Dip your toes by selecting one area of importance to light rather than the whole nine yards. This tends to be the backyard to add a level of security by warding off possible intruders.

A very close second is illuminating areas and features that may be difficult or hazardous to navigate without outdoor lighting, such as pathways, stairways, and steps. This adds a needed element of safety, allowing people to navigate a property more easily.

Adding light to your balcony staircase, a patio doorstep, or beautifully hardscaped steps to a pool or entertaining area eliminates the danger and potential injury. Outdoor lighting also adds a beautification factor that can set a mood and truly make a home stand out while adding value to the property.

Does Landscape Lighting Work for Me?

Maybe you like the idea of adding landscape lighting, but you don’t think there is room or it can’t be retrofitted into your landscape and hardscape design. This shouldn’t deter you in the slightest. Landscape lighting is all about creativity and problem-solving.

A lot of the time, landscape lighting is added after the fact to existing structures and landscapes that weren’t necessarily designed with outdoor lighting in mind. Post lights, downlights or moonlights, and core lights are all fixtures used for outdoor step lighting that are invaluable to every landscape lighting system.

With all that said, now you are asking, “How do I choose which lighting fixture or technique is best for my application?” The short answer is not the simplest one. It all depends on how you are using the space where the steps or stairs are located. And, what effect are you trying to achieve beyond creating a safer environment?

This is where chatting with a professional comes in handy—especially if you’re unsure of which lighting technique you want to use, which effect would look best, and what would be most effective overall.

Here’s a quick summary of five outdoor step lighting to consider:

1. Path Lighting

A lot of the time step lighting is accomplished not by adding lights to the actual steps themselves, but alongside them. This is otherwise known as path lighting—after all, an outdoor stairway is a form of a path!

Path lighting is a basic landscape lighting technique that uses path or area lights. Oftentimes, the purpose of path lighting is to light planting beds and paths to provide a seamless transition between lighting scenes for both safety and cohesion.

One recommendation is to alternate the placement of path light fixtures from one side of the step to the other to light the path evenly and attractively. The goal is to provide enough illumination to prevent tripping hazards, but also to space fixtures far enough apart to create distinct pools of light so your eye naturally moves through the space. Lighting both sides of each step, on the other hand, is not aesthetically pleasing and feels unnatural when walking along a path.

2. Downlighting, Moonlighting

Another way to light steps or stairs is downlighting. Moonlighting is used to dapple your steps with a soft moon-like lighting effect. You can use moonlighting on your staircase and other outdoor areas.

Moonlighting uses tree lights to provide soft natural lighting over large areas. Moonlighting serves as an ideal transition connecting different lighting scenes and eliminating black holes from the project, again, providing safety and cohesion.

To accomplish the downlighting effect, the fixtures emitting a soft wash light must be mounted high up in a tree. Fixtures should be placed at least 25 feet high—at least two lights per tree—and directed down onto the stairway. For your safety, we recommend getting a professional to install your lights.

3. Hardscape Lighting

Hardscape lighting uses low-profile lighting that adds dimension to tight areas, like steps and stairways. Using engineered wall lights, within stones, or a hardscape, those areas can be lit safely and evenly using hardscape lighting.

This is a lovely and sophisticated way to light outdoor steps while highlighting thoughtful hardscape design. Either the walls on both sides of a stairway or the stairs themselves can be lit with hardscape lighting.

4. Post Rail Lighting

Post rail lights mount onto a post of the railing of a stairway, effectively illuminating the path beneath them. The lights built into a post direct light downward to illuminate where you walk, without shining in your eyes.

One type of post-rail light fixture that CAST offers is a deck light, like our CAST Classic Savannah Deck Lights, which serves the same purpose and blends nicely with a wooden or metal railing.

Be forewarned, though, installation and electrical wiring of post-rail fixtures can get complicated. If the drilling and fishing aren’t done properly, it could result in a permanent and unsightly mistake, such as a hole drilled in the wrong spot. Thus, we recommend working with a professional on this kind of lighting project.

5. Tread Lighting

Tread lighting is a type of stair lighting that uses step lights, strip lights, or slim hardscape lights. These strips of light fit right into the vertical face of each step. They create a washing effect with a gentle, even glow that gives it the illusion that it is floating. This is a dazzling and unique light effect that offers a customized look enjoyed by many.

Tread lighting casts light down onto the step directly beneath it. This provides a soft light that illuminates the steps. It’s advisable to hire a professional light fitter to install tread lighting as they can be difficult to install.

The #1 Takeaway of All 5 Outdoor Step Lighting Options 

We briefly touched on this top takeaway in our post-rail lighting section—and that’s the consideration that all five of the above lighting installs require precision and technical prowess.

Our #1 takeaway here is to make sure to consult a professional landscape lighting designer before trying your hand at this outdoor step lighting. It’s critical to select the right fixture and lighting effect to safely and beautifully illuminate your steps. And, to take it one step further, it’s just as important to wire and mount the fixtures at the proper height and beam angle—then test and tweak the lights at night—to ensure a successful lighting project.

Good luck, have fun, and enjoy the results!