Easy Outdoor Fence Lighting Ideas for Your Backyard

backyard with plant landscaping surrounded by a fence

In order to assess what types of lighting will be best for your fence, it is important to consider what type of fence you have. There are a few main styles of fences: wooden fences, vinyl fences, and metal fences.

Different types of lighting will work best with different types of fences, and we will highlight which types of fences work with the lighting categories below.

Fence lights can be a great way to add some backyard lighting to your landscape. Some of the best ways to add some light to your fence are post top lights, string lights, post mounted lights, and path lights. There are both solar power and low-voltage options available in all types of these lights.

Solar vs Low Voltage Lighting

One of the first things you need to consider when assessing your lighting needs is whether you want to install solar power or low voltage lighting.

With solar fence lights, you will have individual lights that derive their energy from the sun and do not need to be wired into your existing electrical system.

Solar fence lighting is the easiest to set up as there is no electrical work required, you simply set up the lights wherever you need them.

Low voltage lighting will require hardwiring lights into your existing electrical system and while it may be more labor intensive, it greatly expands your lighting options for your outdoor space. You can find tutorials online for how to set them up yourself, or you can hire a landscape lighting expert to set them up for you.

Low voltage lights may be the best option if you are looking for more control over your outdoor lights as you can set them up on a timer so they can be turned off when they are not needed.

Downlighting

Photo of fence lighting showing up lighting and downlighting for backyard fence lighting ideas

When choosing and setting up any outdoor lights, including fence lights, you should always be mindful of what direction the light is going. Outdoor lights should always be aimed downwards.

Downlighting has a much smaller contribution to light pollution and should be used instead of uplighting in all outdoor landscaping situations. Most outdoor lights that you will find are LED lights.

When looking for lights for your fence be mindful of what direction the light will be going once the lights are installed and look for light fixtures that will be able to direct the light in the direction that you need it.

Post Lights

Backyard fence lighting ideas showing fence post cap lights
Photo Adobe Stock

Post lights are generally considered to be lights that will sit directly on top of square fence posts. These are a great option if you are looking for solar-powered lights.

When using these types of lights be mindful of where the light will shine as it comes out from all four sides and depending on where your fence is, some of the light may end up in your neighbor’s yard.

These are our favorite solar powered fence post lights. They direct the light down, and not outwards. And they are solar powered which makes installation a breeze.

When choosing post cap lights, is important to be mindful of how bright the light is and where the light will be coming from. You don’t want a light that is going to be super bright and that comes out of the sides of the light fixture as it will end up blinding you when you are looking at the light.

This will cause a harsh and blinding light instead of the warm and comfortable environment that you are aiming for.

This lighting style works with a wooden fence and a vinyl fence.

String Lights

string lights along backyard fence
Photo Pixabay

Outdoor string lights are a great way to add some additional lighting to your backyard fence. These can be used with any fence type. Although if string lights are used with metal fences, or any fence with large open spaces, be mindful that the light will go through to the other side of the fence.

String lights come in both solar powered and wired versions. The solar string lights have a small solar panel at the end which is where the lights will derive their power from.

This is a good option if you don’t want to worry about wires running through your yard or along your fence. If you choose the wired option of string lights, this does give you a greater variety of styles.

These are our favorite wired string lights. We like these lights because they are a unique take on the classic string lights and the dome helps to direct the light downwards to help prevent light pollution and to direct the light just where you need it.

When choosing string lights also be mindful of the brightness of the lights and the color temperature of the lights. You will want to choose a lower brightness and a warmer color temperature.

This will provide a more comfortable and relaxing environment. Also be sure to check that the lights are rated for outdoor use.

This lighting style works with wood post, vinyl, and metal fences.

Mounted Lights

Post mounted fence light for backyard fence lighting ideas
Photo Adobe Stock

If you have a wood or vinyl fence with wide posts and a flat surface, you can attach wall mounted lights to your fence posts. When using post mounted lights, you want to look for lights that are shielded (meaning you can’t see the lightbulb) and lights that are aimed downwards.

You can find both solar powered and low voltage versions of these lights. Deck lights tend to work well as mounted fence lights.

Solar Power Mounted Lights

This is our favorite solar power mounted light. It just needs to be attached to any fence post, and it is shielded and aimed downwards.

These are another great low profile option for fence mounted solar lights. They easily attach to a fence post.

Low Voltage Mounted Lights

We love this low voltage option for a mounted fence light. It shields the light and aims it down.

This is another nice low profile low voltage mounted light. These lights are small and low profile and can be attached to fence posts.

This lighting style works with wood or vinyl fences.

Path Lights

Another option for adding some lighting along your fence is to use path lights along the base of the fence. These are available in both low voltage and solar lighting options. These are some of our favorite pathway lights and we break them down into solar and low voltage options.

As with string lights, if you are using path lights along your fence line be mindful that the light will go through to the other side of your fence if you are placing these along a metal fence, or any fence with large, open spaces.

Solar Lights

3 styles of solar pathways lights that can be used along your backyard fence
Photos courtesy of Home Depot

If you are looking for a quick, low maintenance solution to lighting your fence or backyard, then solar powered pathway lights are worth checking out.

Most kinds will automatically turn on and off in response to the ambient outdoor lighting. Here are a few of our favorites:

These solar powered outdoor lights come as a set of 4 and can be placed anywhere along a fence to add some illumination.

These farmhouse style solar lights have a different and unique style from many of the other solar lights that you will typically see. At first glance, you wouldn’t even think they were solar powered lights.

Motion sensing outdoor lights are great if you have an area that needs a little extra light when people are trying to navigate it or let the dog out at night. These motion sensing solar lights maintain a low brightness from dusk to dawn, then get brighter when motion is detected.

A bonus of using solar outdoor lights? They are ecofriendly as they derive their power from the sun. Not only are they easy to install, but they are environmentally friendly lighting, sounds like a win-win!

Wired Lights

Four styles of wired pathway lights that can be used along a backyard fence
Photos courtesy of Home Depot

Hardwiring lights may be more labor intensive, but it greatly expands your options for landscape lighting ideas. You can find tutorials online for how to set them up yourself, or you can hire a landscape lighting expert to set them up for you. One of the greatest benefits is that you can set them up on a timer so they are on only when needed.

There are countless options for outdoor wired lights, so we have narrowed it down for you to a few of our favorites.

Modern and Minimalist

These modern pathway lights come in a 4 pack, so if you have a longer fence length to light, it can be helpful to get a multi pack.

For unique and modern walkway lights that look just as good during the day as they do at night, we recommend these two tone bronze and copper lights.

Traditional

This 4 pack of mushroom pathway lights is a modern take on the traditional mushroom style light.

Another great option is these low profile walkway lights. They have the classic mushroom shape, but are smaller and more slender, taking up less space with a more modern look.

We love all of these lights because they are shielded and aim the light down toward the ground where it is most useful and shields it from the viewer’s eyes to prevent glare.

This lighting style works best with wood post, vinyl, and metal fences.

Fence Lighting Tips and Best Practices

wooden backyard fence
Photo Adobe Stock

There are a few things that you should keep in mind when you are planning and designing your fence lighting.

Be mindful of your neighbors

If you live in an area close to other houses, always be mindful of how your outdoor light will affect your neighbors. Choose lights that will not shine into their yard or windows by choosing lights that are shielded, aimed downwards, and that are not overly bright.

Brightness/Lumens

With so many outdoor lighting fixtures available, choosing one that will suit your needs can be daunting. Brightness of lights is an important factor in choosing what lights will be best for your space and it varies widely among different lighting options.

You should aim to choose the least bright light possible that will provide adequate illumination for your outdoor space. It is always better to start with fewer lights, then add more if needed.

You want to look for a soft gentle light to make your outdoor area feel welcoming, not a harsh blinding light. Brightness is measured in lumens, and most lights will list the brightness in lumens. A lower number equals a less bright light.

For most outdoor lighting needs, you don’t need anything over 700 lumens. For more information on how bright your outdoor lights should be, check out our post here.

Use Your Lights Only When Needed

Outdoor lights should be on a timer or motion sensor. This will not only prevent unnecessary light use and cut down on light pollution, but it is also a great way to save energy and be eco-friendly.

Using lights only when needed is also beneficial for wildlife as well as many animals need the darkness and the cues of the light-dark cycle for migration, reproduction, and for feeding.

Setting up a timer or motion sensor and turning your landscaping lights off after a certain time at night will help restore the darkness which is beneficial to both humans and wildlife.

Dark Sky Friendly Lighting

milky way with some light pollution
Photo Adobe Stock

All of the lights that we recommend can be considered dark sky friendly lighting. How can you tell if a light is dark sky friendly? When you look at the light fixture, you should not be able to see the source of the light (bulb).

We understand that people like to use outdoor lights, whether for aesthetic effects such as adding light to your backyard, entertaining, or security, and we want to help people make informed decisions about the lights being used.

You can use outdoor lights at night while still being a friend to the starry sky movement and decreasing your contribution to light pollution!

For more information about light pollution, check out our article What is Light Pollution.

To stay up to date on all things light pollution related, check out and subscribe to our podcast Light Pollution News. We have a new episode every month bringing you the latest news and research about light pollution.

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