Where to Install Outdoor DIY Solar Landscape Lighting

When it comes to outdoor lighting, larger light fixtures are typically the primary focus: porch lights, exterior sconces & lanterns, and pendants to illuminate main exterior areas. However, landscape lighting often seems to be an afterthought. As we’ve been working to update our outdoor living spaces and home exterior this summer, we finally finished installing solar landscape lights. For such a high visual impact, it was an incredibly easy and cost effective process. While simple and affordable, I believe the challenge for most, is where to install outdoor DIY solar landscape lighting. Click through for my best placement suggestions, installation ideas, before & after images of our exterior, and my top outdoor solar lights for every aesthetic!

Where to Install Outdoor DIY Solar Landscape Lighting - roomfortuesday.com

Earlier this spring, I shared my designer guide for choosing timeless exterior lighting. Be sure to check out that post if you missed it! Just like interior lighting, the key to achieving a professional designer look outdoors, is to layer lighting. Landscape lighting is a big part of creating a cohesive, layered and dimensional exterior look.

Solar Landscape Lighting Ideas

Solar lights are the perfect solution for illuminating outdoor areas. They’re budget-friendly, require no electrical wiring, and are totally powered by the sun… they’re the type of fixtures you can install and forget about (an upgrade with instant gratification). The technology and battery life has also evolved and come a long way over the years- I’ve been impressed! If you’re brainstorming outdoor use ideas for these handy fixtures, I’ll share some solar light applications below.

Where to Install Outdoor DIY Solar Landscape Lighting - roomfortuesday.com
  • Illuminate pathways
  • Flood light architectural elements (home exterior and outdoor structures, like a storage shed)
  • Light a fence or your property perimeter
  • Illuminate plants or timeless terra cotta pots
  • Solar garden lights
  • Line landscaping curbs
  • Highlight outdoor focal points (flags, fountains, outdoor kitchens, pergolas, etc)

Not only do these enhance curb appeal, but they’re very practical in illuminating your outdoor areas with a layered light source. You can see more easily, navigate your property safely, all while increasing the value and aesthetic of your home. I installed the following…

Solar Pathway Lights

Where to Install Outdoor DIY Solar Landscape Lighting - roomfortuesday.com

I landed on these solar pathway lights based on their classic lantern design, height (which I could easily nestle into our boxwoods), positive reviews, and warm light profile (3000 K).

Where to Install Outdoor DIY Solar Landscape Lighting - roomfortuesday.com

They come in an 8-pack, so I grabbed two sets to line our front sidewalk, as well as our backyard & patio, along with the garage path. They simply stake into the ground and were easy to install. I didn’t expect them to illuminate the first evening, because I installed them just before sunset… but only with an hour of low light, they immediately switched on once the sun had totally disappeared.

Solar Flood Lights

Where to Install Outdoor DIY Solar Landscape Lighting - roomfortuesday.com

Flood lights are optimal for highlighting larger areas and outdoor architectural elements… your home exterior, large trees, fountains, etc. While highly impactful, I think solar flood lights are the most difficult to place. Unlike pathway lights that feel very intuitive (which are obviously installed along a path), flood lights require a creative and architectural eye for design.

Flood Light Placement Suggestions

Where to Install Outdoor DIY Solar Landscape Lighting - roomfortuesday.com

Think about what areas of your home or outdoor structure you’d like to highlight. Given we have a Georgian style colonial home (very symmetrical), we opted to install flood lights in front of each of our lower windows (four across the lowest level). This helped to illuminate the majority of our exterior, providing depth between our home and landscaping. I’ve got an example later in this post! To share some solar light ideas… windows, bay windows, dormers, porches, towers, columns, and gables are all great opportunities for flood lighting.

Solar Stair Lights

Where to Install Outdoor DIY Solar Landscape Lighting - roomfortuesday.com

Perhaps the most functional solar landscape light we installed was solar staircase lighting. These handy blocks can either be screwed into place for a permanent solution, or they come with adhesive applicators (depending on your staircase material). After ordering a second set, I also discovered you can simply rest them on the staircase corners, as they’re not prone to shifting.

Where to Install Outdoor DIY Solar Landscape Lighting - roomfortuesday.com

I think these look best when installed mirroring each other- two lights per stair (facing each other). I’m actually planning to install more on our larger front porch staircase- closest to our front door. I just prioritized our back yard, since we most often use that outdoor area. These have been game changers!

String Lights

Al Fresco Summer Tablescape - roomfortuesday.com

I installed these discreet, yet charming, white string lights immediately upon moving in, as they perfectly blend with the pergola over our outdoor dining space. I most recently shared these in my al fresco summer tablescape, if you’re in need of outdoor dinner party inspiration.

Where to Install Outdoor DIY Solar Landscape Lighting - roomfortuesday.com

While these are plug-in… they make plenty of durable, reliable, and highly rated solar string light options. I simply didn’t want to replace our existing lights since they’ve worked well for us. Rather than replacing, I added a matching set to our existing setup.

Solar Landscape Lighting Before & After

Here’s a quick before & after glance at our front exterior before and after the addition of solar landscape lighting. I’d still like to add some fixtures, but the immediate difference is already looking very nice! What do you think?

Curated & Layered Landscape Lighting for Any Aesthetic

We’ve been living with many of these landscape lights for over a year, and I recently ordered and installed more to complete our outdoor lighting plan. They’ve withstood the test of time, have been durable, and I’ve been able to experiment with different styles. While I stuck with a traditional black aesthetic, I wanted to curate a few different finish options for you, based on your home exterior and outdoor living needs! These are perfect for layering…

Click directly on each solar light below to be redirected.

Black is always a timeless choice, and probably the most prevalent and readily available when it comes to solar landscape lighting.

Copper is another classic pick, so if you happen to have copper gutters or accents, it would provide a cohesive exterior look that would patina nicely.

Last, white is a great choice if you have durable vinyl accents- like a vinyl privacy fence, pergola, or floral window boxes. If you’re looking for a color that blends seamlessly, this could be the perfect option for your outdoor space.


Do these need to be installed in direct sunlight?

It depends on the fixture, but in my experience- they only need a small amount of sunlight to function. Many of our lights are placed in shady areas and still function at full capacity. They’re equally as bright and long-lasting, when compared to those placed in direct sunlight.

What is the run time for the solar path lights?

Ours illuminate from sunset to sunrise. They’re on all evening and they switch on automatically, as soon as it becomes dark.

How do you choose fixtures that have a nice warm white light?

Be careful to read the product description, as it often specifies the temperature or color of the light. Most of the solar powered landscape lights have variations to choose from. I always choose warm white (or 3000 K) when given the option. You can also check out my designer trick post on how to best choose light temperature & bulbs.

Which landscape light has been your favorite?

Practically speaking, I’d most definitely say the solar stair lights! Those are incredibly helpful and make navigating stairs after dark much safer. Aesthetically speaking, the spotlights feel very high-end highlighting our home exterior and storage shed. I love those!

Do you have videos of the landscape lights at night? I’d love a closer look!

I just shared my reviews of each! You can find the flood lights here, stair lights, string lights, and pathway lights… all in my Amazon favorites.


Looking for more outdoor living design suggestions, curb appeal posts, and landscaping projects? I’ll share ten of my favorites with you below…

Where to Install Outdoor DIY Solar Landscape Lighting - roomfortuesday.com

Whether you’re looking to brighten your exterior for functional or aesthetic purposes, why not give solar lighting a try this summer? I ordered ours a little at a time (to experiment with fixture types), but it’s an effective option that won’t break the bank! Some of our neighbors have commented on how nice it looks illuminated during the evening hours. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below- I’d be happy to help. Thanks for your patience last week while I had family in town visiting! I’m excited to be back to my regular schedule and blog routine today. I hope you’re having a fun and productive summer season so far! What kind of projects are you currently tackling in your outdoor living space?

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  1. Good morning Sarah! I missed you last week, but I hope you had a fantastic time visiting with family and ushering in summer with the boat. You couldn’t be more accurate about outdoor lighting and having a layered look. Something about it immediately elevates even the most mundane of yards. The before and after of yours is incredible! I love all the landscaping updates you’ve been making and it’s putting a fire in me to get cracking on ours. I just spotted some solar pathway lights I loved at our local Ace Hardware- now I’m considering going back and giving them another look. You’ve made a clear argument here that I can’t deny. On the subject of string lights, Costco sells a fantastic set of solar string lights. Ours were installed 4 years ago and they’re still going strong. Best $30 I ever spent! We’ve been cleaning up the landscape in our backyard; removing palm trees and aging shrubbery. The yard looks like a clean, blank canvas. I am happy to report back regarding Sunday lawn products: worth every penny, every ounce of hype, and so incredibly easy to use! For the first time in 7 years, our lawn looks like a lawn instead of a giant weed patch. Areas where the grass has always struggled to grow are now filling in beautifully. I’ll never go back to big box products. We have a ways to go with weeding- but their Dandelion Doom product has been a game changer- our yard is just so large it’ll have to go in phases. For now, the most invasive and stubborn weeds that cause pet discomfort are happily extinct. If no one has checked them out, go to http://www.getsunday.com -I promise you won’t be disappointed. This post is timely- I e been brainstorming landscaping ideas and plans, but hadn’t considered the addition of lighting yet. I’m definitely on board with the look- now I just need better landscape to highlight. 🤣😂 I hope you all had a wonderfully relaxing weekend; cheers to the week ahead and last week of school for us!

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Good morning, Lauren! It’s always fun when family visits- it’s shaping up to be a good summer, as our siblings send their teens out to “camp Gibson” ha! We love having them, and are planning all the fun things. We’ve been trying to get the boat in order before they arrive. You should definitely head back to Ace for those lights! I can’t believe how they’ve elevated our outdoor spaces. We’ve seriously been enjoying them… also, great note on checking Costco! I haven’t seen any at our local Costco, but now I’m on a mission to check. It sounds like you two have also been busy in the yard! Are you back to feeling 100 and mobile again? I sure hope so! We may have to give Sunday lawn products a try… foxtails are a big problem here, and I always worry about the dogs. Thanks for reporting back! Happy last week of school as your family heads into summer- so exciting!

      1. I’m not back to 💯 yet, sadly. I do have a ton more movement than previously, but it’s a slow and uncomfortable road. I’m currently waiting on MRI results to reveal whether or not something is torn- so for now, taking it slow and steady and dealing with the discomfort the best I can. Last night was a rough one. But I’m vertical, and that’s always something to be grateful for. Thanks for asking Sarah!

        1. Sarah Gibson says:

          Ugh, I’m sorry! Don’t overdo it, and take it easy friend! So sorry to hear you had a rough night. You always have the best attitude! Hang in there, Lauren!

  2. Good morning! I’m glad you took time with your fam last week, but I’m also pleased you’re back.😃 And with a jam-packed post on such a timely topic. I’ve often considered adding some sort of auxiliary lighting to our yard but lacked inspiration. Your before and after shots did the trick! Who knew your gorgeous exterior could even be improved? Sadly, we don’t have conveniently camouflaging boxwoods, and I don’t love the look of exposed pathway lights tbh. Those stair lights are a genius alternative though! Attractive and SO functional. I absolutely need them for my front and back steps. I dig the drama of the floods (duh), but, as you mention, placement requires more thought. With installation being so easy, I’m thinking I might just purchase a set and experiment! What I really want to highlight though are my perennial beds, so maybe floods aren’t the right choice. What do you think? Honestly, dead simple and dirt cheap…sounds like my kind of summer project!🤣 Cheers to a fab new week and a fantastic new month!💜

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Good morning, Peggi! I’ve definitely been having fun playing with the landscape lighting. We’ve been spending so much time outside this season, we’ve really been enjoying them. I also put a set of stair lights on our back patio and those have been a game changer. The amount of times I blindly go outside with the dogs in the dark- those will most certainly save my clumsy self from a fall, ha. Oooh, I love your idea of illuminating your perennial beds. They make some little solar hanging lanterns that are super cute and feel more decorative. Something light that could be perfect for a garden bed. I hope your month is off to an amazing start!

  3. Happy June Sarah!
    I’m so glad you had a fabulous week with your family, hope you had great weather to enjoy your gorgeous backyard.
    We love solar lighting and have utilized it in our backyard for a few years, although more in the use of lanterns and string lights hanging from the trees. I really enjoyed seeing your application of pathway lighting, so very pretty. We do have a path to the backyard that could use with a little illumination, I think they would work quite well.
    Special types of lights either inside or out really adds such a pretty ambiance. We recently installed rechargeable batteries to wall sconces inside our home in the entrance. The sconces couldn’t be wired in the location we required so voila rechargeable batteries saved the day. Im impressed and amazed how many different types of lighting options there are available. Someday we will get more exterior lighting figured out at the cottage as it’s incredibly dark at night. And when we lose power, it’s so dark it’s quite unsettling.
    I have been busy planning an engagement party for my daughter and her fiancé ❤️ It’s been a very fun process so far, its being held here in our backyard so the party shed will get utilized to the fullest 😉 🥂
    We plan are opening the cottage soon and getting our plans for a shed underway as well. It’s going to be a very busy summer here. Our pool is open and the garden is complete. Yay! Cheers to a wonderful summer filled with great times ahead 😎 Thanks for the all the superb solar lighting tips and sharing your successful roundup of options! Have a super day 🌞

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      Happy June, Colleen! We really had the best time- it’s always nice to host friends & family. I love your idea of using solar lights to hang from the trees- that sounds so magical and beautiful! Engagement party planning sounds like a fabulous time, and there is no better spot that your charming backyard and party shed! I know it will be absolutely stunning. It sounds like you have a busy summer ahead. I’m still envious of your pool, ha. Hope you get to enjoy it often this summer. Have a great day! xo

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and recommendations! We put in a deck right before the pandemic hit and my husband installed some wired lights in the steps – that worked great until the chipmunks chewed the wires! Oof. I love the idea of the wireless step lights you shared as well as the pathway lights. We have a dark path that we seem to forget about until we’re trying to lead friends out to the gate with our phone flashlight – another oof! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Sarah Gibson says:

      I’m so glad this one was helpful, Danielle! Your deck sounds amazing. We’ve also had some issues with critters in the past. So frustrating! We’ve definitely been enjoying the ease and functionality of the solar lights. Hope you have a great summer ahead!