Architectural Tree Lighting Guide

Take Root with Accent Lighting

Add uplighting and downlighting with the right accessories to fit any tree to create a beautiful landscape ambience. Capture the unique form of a tree and its canopy with accent landscape luminaires by Hydrel.


The Art of Tree Lighting

It’s important to understand the play between light and dark, and how to use contrast and shadows to create inspiring and intriguing spaces.

Architectural tree lighting should include downlighting and uplighting. This technique shows a complete view of the tree, and it provides a complete picture.

Outdoor tree lighting in open area
Accent tree lighting in urban condo courtyard

Lighting Scheme and Scope

  • While there are basic rules to architectural tree lighting, remember no two trees are the same!
  • Size matters! Look for accent luminaires that don’t need to be changed out as your trees grow.
  • Always consider downlighting first with your lighting design. Define a certain scene with downlighting to help reveal light and shade.
  • Accent lighting the bark of the tree is as important as its canopy. Its texture can create interesting features, increases safety, and provides a complete picture.
Tree Ring with palm treedark background v2_800x400

Importance of Depth in Landscape Lighting

  • Use of soft light will help to expand the sense of space.
  • Show edges or boundaries to help us feel safe.
  • Brightness ratios help the eye move through the space.
  • Hierarchy in lighting, the way you choose to introduce layers of light creates balance and a sense of safety.
Landscape with Buddha Final_800x800

How the Eye Sees the Detail

When lighting a sculpture, every detail counts. Yes, even the lawn gnome deserve attention.

The sculpture in the illustration serves as a visual destination. It is lit with our landscape luminaires installed above the tree and one luminaire ground mounted lighting his face, makes this Buddha the focal point.


Visualize the Scene as a Whole

To the left, ingrade and accent landscape luminaires light these large trees. Lighting includes a wide beam that spills onto the path.

Make the Night Comfortable

There is no one-size-fits-all all! Because of that, our Accent Landscape luminaires offer versatile performance for a wide variety of hardscapes, landscape and tree lighting applications.

How to light trees that experience seasonal change

Does the tree hold its leaves or lose them? Does it have showy flowers or fruit? Most trees change their appearance and the lighting design needs to adjust.

Add an Unexpected Design

While a minimum of three fixtures is usually best, here we have two fixtures flanking the trunk, uplighting the canopy and creating this stunning accent gradient visual experience. Also, applying only the uplighting technique on a tree is acceptable; however, downlighting needs the uplighting technique.

Single Tree_600x400
Multi Tree_600x400

Less Maintenance as Your Tree Grows

When aiming, plan ahead! Aim the fixture on the tree's width based on its growth or settling. Place the fixture at 0° to 35° straight up or nadir to minimize glare. Any lower than that, and if the fixtures are visible, there will be glare! Plus, with our Accent Landscape Luminaires, there's no need to worry about hotspots. Easily change the optics directly in the field as the tree grows!

Landscape Fixtures abilty to change optics in the field as tree grows Hydrel_1920

Tree Lighting Mounting Accessories


Please review the spec sheets to order a mounting accessory.


Dimmers, DMX & Transformers

Understanding the tree's nature and how it can change its shape and size over time is essential. Planning will help regarding power, fixture quantity and could also affect conduit size and control load.

Make it Your Own

Typically, black finishes are used for landscape lighting, but did you know there are additional finishes for styled exteriors? Match any tree trunk with our custom finishes. Let landscape fixtures be an accent of their own, showcasing the landscape with added style.

Silver Birch_700x700
Silver Birch
American Beech_700x700
American Beech
Oak Tree_700x700
Oak Tree
Fibrous Sequoia_700x700
Fibrous Sequoia
Palo Verde_700x700
Palo Verde

Additional Resources