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Lighting Palm Trees: Illuminate Palms, Trees and Shrubs [HOW TO]

Summary: Palm tree lights can dramatically change the look of a home. When the landscape lights come on and night garden show begins.

lighting palms in the landscape garden

Question: We would like to light up a palm tree with outdoor lighting and also add lighting to trees, other palm trees, and large shrubs.

Do you have any tips or ideas we should be aware of? One of the outdoor lighting ideas I’ve seen is uplighting, downlighting and adding tree spotlights with some wild results! Annette, Metairie, LA

Answer: Annette, palms, a tree, artificial palm tree, large flowering shrub, tree trunk, tree branch or evergreen often makes a natural focal point or center of attraction for many garden scenes during the day.

Plants of this type often offer many interesting points to be viewed, but they must receive light from different directions to present an interesting lighting pattern and for adequate illumination or highlighting.

palm tree lighting using led garden lights

When you decide to light up a palm tree outdoors you don’t need to become a landscape architect or one of the landscape designers in the team to bring out the best in your garden, yard, and lawn.

All you need is some outdoor lighting ideas, basic landscaping skills, a willingness to experiment.

Mood lamps or bullet-type spotlight light fixtures are the basics for lighting outdoor trees and illuminate palm trees. However, when lighting palm trees, string lights and LED lighting units make lights on a palm take on a whole new look.

Solar garden lighting used in pathway lighting will not do the job. Adding LED or rope lights to the trunk on a palm tree is a common decorating feature for Christmas tree lighting around shopping centers.

But, who says placing lights on a palm tree is reserved for the holiday season, special events or one time of year?

Need some inspiration? Read our article on Rope lighting ideas here.

How many strings of lights to use, and where best to locate and position them depends on the size and shape of your palm, shrub or tree, and also on the effect you want to create.

Generally speaking, locate a light in each of the following four basic positions and with perfect use of the trees or shrubs, you can create outstanding landscape ornaments for an improved outdoor space.

In addition to the lighting palm trees, flower beds, and beautiful landscape plants, you can also shine the light on other outdoor ornaments such as:

… for added style, improved landscape design, and overall curb appeal.


Palm Tree Lighting: Emphasize Trunk Texture and Shape

Spiked into the ground near the trunk of the palm tree and aiming almost straight up into the fronds or branches.

This light emphasizes the texture and shape of the trunk, and “points out” (with trees) the low hanging branches and fronds, creating the effect of a canopy of light overhead.

It lends sharp dramatic garden accents and works best with palms and trees that are lacy and fairly open in their structure but use it sparingly to avoid a harsh, glaring effect.


Lighting To Emphasize Tree or Shrub Shape

Placed into the ground several feet away from the trunk of the palm tree and aimed up into the branches at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees.

This lighting usually emphasizes the shape of the tree or shrub, lending an exotic air to those with an interesting form.

It is not as brilliant or striking to the eye as the first type of light, but can be used more freely and is particularly effective with large trees that have gnarled, twisted-looking branches and limbs.

It is also the most useful type, and more frequently used, of all-round tree and shrub lighting.

Place the fixture so that it is between the tree and your normal viewing position and so the light is being aimed away from your eyes.


landscape-lighting-ficus

Lighting To Emphasize Higher Branches, Fronds, and Leaves

To create appealing garden ornaments with the use of lighting and plants, start with fastening up among the branches of large open trees or long palm tree fronds.

Direct this light upward from a low branch or fork in the tree to light up the branches and leaves above it.

You can also accent the texture and shape of high branches where ground lights will not illuminate them effectively.

Where a large tree is to be viewed from one side only, direct the light downward at a slight angle away from the normal point of view.

This lights up the outermost branches and to create the effect of a canopy of light overhead. But use this lighting cautiously to avoid annoying glare.


Lighting To Emphasize Over All Tree or Shrub Shape

Fastened as high as possible to a nearby building or structure or even to another tree. This side lighting models the over-all shape and foliage of the denser trees and shrubs most effectively.

Place the sources of lights close to the house so that the lights will not be shining into your eyes.

It is often difficult to install this lighting on the average home grounds due to the danger of producing glare in your neighbor’s house or in the eyes of those approaching your own house.