From neighborhood barbecues to kids’ play time, summer means outside time. Much of that activity occurs during the day, but darkness also is a great time to enjoy the outdoors.

The right light can make evening hours safer and more enjoyable, according to the American Lighting Association. Make your outdoors more pleasant with these tips:

Improve navigation

Lighting is typically layered into a room or outdoor space in three ways: overhead, task and ambient. Even outdoors — where there are no typical boundaries and borders — those three layers are necessary. Outdoor overhead lighting is important for visibility of steps, paths and walking surfaces.

Enhance security


To improve visibility and security, combine a motion detector with a sconce to illuminate dark corners or areas near entrances, said David Kitts, a designer with Hubbardton Forge.

Create outdoor rooms

Outdoor lighting at the borders of a space is a great way to give people barriers, both vertically and horizontally. “Lights in a tree create something akin to a chandelier hung in the middle of the sky, and even accent lights in the general area of the edge of a patio, deck or porch will glaze across the space and provide enough of a comfort level for people to understand where things are,” said Jeff Dross of Kichler Lighting.

Add decorative elements

Just as patios and other outdoor elements help to enhance the style of an outdoor space, so too can lighting contribute to a good design.

For example, step lights are essential for safe passage, but also highlight molding or trim details. Patio lights provide ambiance as well as illumination for cooking.