A Stone waterfall grotto in a backyard pool illuminated by lighting

Adding a water feature can be a great way to enhance the visual appeal of your backyard or outdoor living space. By lighting an existing water feature, you can create a beautiful focal point within your backyard.

There are many different types of lights and lighting techniques that you can use to optimize the look of your water feature. These lighting techniques not only create visual interest and movement, but can give your backyard more dimension and even be used to accentuate nearby features, such as landscaping or architecture.

Not sure where to begin when it comes to properly lighting a water feature on your property? There are a few practical tips worth keeping in mind.

Tip 1: The Right Lighting Angle

Start by selecting the right angle for your lighting; ideally, your lighting should accentuate your water feature but not overpower it. Too much direct lighting, for example, can create an unsightly glare on the surface of the water.

For the best results, make an effort to angle your lights away from the feature’s main viewing positions. This means pointing light away from a nearby outdoor seating area, for instance. If you have trouble finding an angle that doesn’t directly hit a viewing position, you can always block some of the light with plants, rocks, or other hardscapes/landscaping. As an added bonus, this can create an extra sense of dimension and visual appeal.

Tip 2: Location, Location

Choosing a location for your outdoor lighting fixtures is another important consideration; generally, lighting fixtures should be placed in areas where the hardware itself is hidden but the light is obviously not. Still, when selecting a location, you’ll need to make sure the fixture is still easily accessible for cleaning and maintenance.

Consider a few different types of lighting, along with their potential advantages and drawbacks, to help you make the right choices for your property.


Downlights can be easily hidden within a water feature and cast light on a pond or larger fountain. These lights create a beautiful diffused glow on the surface of the water—and if you can angle the light and use cooler (lower Kelvin) lights, this helps to create a truly eye-catching look from a distance.


Spotlights offer the advantage of being able to be placed high and away from the water feature itself. From there, the light can be directed towards the water. This helps to keep the fixture hidden while also calling attention directly to the water feature. Meanwhile, spotlights can create an intriguing reflection effect off the surface of the water.


If you have a waterfall feature on your property, adding some uplighting is a great way to create a stunning effect. This type of lighting is excellent for waterfalls because it makes the feature more visible while also diffusing light to create a beautiful and unique effect. For added visual interest, you might even consider using colored lights here.

Tip 3: Consider Submersible Lights

If you have fountains and/or ponds on your property submersible lights are another option to consider. These can make your fountain or pond a lot more visible, especially at night. When choosing submersible lights, just keep in mind that these lights need to be very bright in order to be effective. This is because water will naturally diffuse the lights.

For this reason, it is recommended that you select lights that are 1/3 or even 1/2 brighter than what you think you need. Because submersible lights can be susceptible to corrosion around the seal, it’s also important to invest in a high-quality light that will stand up to the test of time. Solid brass fixtures, for example, can be an excellent and durable choice.

If you’ll be lighting a pond with submersible lights, you should also be mindful of fish and their habitats. Specifically, make sure that there are plenty of dark and shadowy spots for fish to escape from the light and sleep. You’ll also want to be careful not to overheat the water.

Tip 4: Less is More

Too much lighting can result in a glare and may overpower the beauty of your water feature. And of course, too much light can also be blinding to your guests. When lighting is well-placed, you can reduce the need of having too many lights and keep your water fixture looking its absolute best.

Your Outdoor Lighting Design Experts

If you’re still feeling a little overwhelmed about the prospect of selecting the right lighting fixtures for your outdoor water feature, guidance from an experienced landscaping team may be all you need. At Creative Nightscapes, we specialize in exterior lighting and can help you select the ideal lighting solutions for your outdoor space.

Contact our team today to find out more about our services offered or to schedule your free quote on a new lighting design for your home. We look forward to working for you!

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