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Tree Uplighting Techniques to Use This Autumn

Author: Susanna
Aug. 19, 2021
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Trees are a major feature in your yard and definitely deserve attention in your outdoor lighting design. Many people plant trees to enjoy the beauty of the seasons: beautiful flowers in the spring, lush foliage in the summer, and gorgeous leaves in the fall. 

Trees also provide shade for your yard and home. This also means they will continue to block light once the sun goes down, so adding landscape lighting to your trees can restore any visibility or loss of safety after dark. 

How to Uplight Trees

Well lights are mounted on the ground or other surfaces to blend in with your landscape while providing powerful illumination. Some well lights have directional shades that are used to focus the light on the object you want to highlight. 

One of the biggest benefits of well lights is that they are mounted very close to the ground and completely or almost flush with the mounting surface. This means they are unlikely to be noticed, keeping the visual focus on the tree you are trying to illuminate. 

Spotlights protrude from the mounting surface to provide directional lighting. Spotlights are available in many different finishes and styles to match the rest of your outdoor lighting design. 

Many spotlights allow you to adjust the beam angle of the spotlight so that you can get the light exactly where you want it (35 degrees is the most common, but you can get different beam angles for your particular tree as needed). If you have a larger tree and want to extend the light to the branches, you will need a wider beam angle. 


Low voltage LEDs are available for both well and spotlights, allowing for low cost, long run times! 


Where to Install Tree Uplighting

If you are using well garden lights, you will need to install the lights closer to the tree trunk to get the full effect. When using spotlights, the size of the tree will determine how close or far you install your landscape lights; the taller the tree, the farther away the spotlight will need to be to effectively highlight the branches. 

If you are unsure where to install the lighting, we recommend using a flashlight to test the idea of placement. While spotlights are more powerful than most flashlights, using a flashlight will give you a general idea of what the tree will look like and what areas will be illuminated with the spotlight installed. 

Uplighting of Small Trees

For thin or young trees, consider uplighting with a single well light near the trunk. Smaller trees can be dramatically illuminated by using an up-lit well light. We also recommend using well lighting for larger trees with interesting trunk shapes to highlight their unique features. 


 Uplighting of Larger Trees

For larger trees, combine well lights and spotlights to achieve a layered effect. Well lights should be installed close to the tree to highlight the trunk, while spotlights should be placed further away to emphasize the branches. Depending on the size of the tree, you may want to use multiple spotlights to illuminate the branches from different angles! Using multiple spotlights will create a cross-beam of light that adds further atmosphere to your outdoor tree lighting. 

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