How to Create Shady and Lighted Areas in NJ Outdoor Spaces

New Jersey summers can get hot. One way to combat the sweltering weather is to create shaded areas in the landscape of a yard. By adding various elements to the landscape, shade is created and the result is a visually interesting space that homeowners can enjoy all summer long. Here are some ideas for creating a well-shaded landscape, and also some ideas for providing the necessary light for it.

© majeczka - Fotolia.comTrees

Perhaps the primary way to create a shaded landscape is to plant trees. Planting a sufficient amount of trees will reduce the amount of solar exposure to the yard and people in it. Strategically placing trees around the landscaped area provides visual interest as well as a cooling factor to any yard. An added benefit of including shade-producing trees to a landscape is that it can significantly reduce the indoor temperature of the house, resulting in lower cooling costs.

Shrubs and ground cover

Although these types of greenery don’t produce as much overhead shade as a fully-grown tree, they are still ideal for creating a shaded landscape. They are perfect for shading the ground and pavement that lie around the house. These shading elements help cool the home, just like trees do. They work to reduce the sun’s radiant heat before it can reach the exterior walls and windows of the house

Create curves

Use shrubs and short foliage to create curved paths. Using a variety of plants in varying sizes will help add to the visual appeal of the landscape. Go ahead and place some attractive pavers to create a walkway through the garden for visitors.


A great way to add some visual interest to a shaded landscape is to add a bridge. The different textures and the foliage surrounding it can replace the missing colorful flowers that need a large amount of sunlight to thrive. As an added element and pop of color, place some ceramic pots strategically around the bridge.

Architectural structures

Putting up a pergola or gazebo can add a nicely shaded area for visitors to a garden. Although the greenery in a landscape are the bones of the landscape, one of these large wooded structures can become in inviting focal point of the garden. Pergolas and gazebos can also provide shelter from the heat of the sun as well as a light summer rainfall.

Mist garden

Once you have a well-shaded garden area, consider adding a mist garden to it. These gardens spray a soft mist down to hydrate everything around them. A well-placed mist garden can easily turn an ordinary shaded area into a cool, peaceful sanctuary.

When the goal of creating a landscape is to keep natural light out, other light sources need to be considered. Here are some ideas for adding light elements to a shaded landscape.

Perimeter lighting

Adding lighting to the perimeter of the garden can create a campfire effect. Start with subtle lighting sources such as candles, fire pits, and lanterns and then add some stronger lighting sources around flower beds to include some more functional light.


Well-shaded gardens contain many different elements. In order to highlight some of the elements as focal points, consider placing some up-lighting at their bases. Well-placed up-lighting can turn a seemingly ordinary tree or shrub into a beautiful piece of art after the sun goes down.

Pathway lighting

Pathways that go through a landscaped area need adequate lighting for the safety of those who traverse it. Placing some pathway lights along the entirety of a path can add some necessary light for walkers and help improve the overall ambiance of the landscape. One way to add some visual interest to pathway lights is to mix and match styles to avoid a boring and repetitive look.

Colored lights

Another way to add some visual interest to a landscape is to include some colored lighting. Be sure to use uniquely colored bulbs that highlight the garden elements they are illuminating.

Indirect lighting

Indirect lighting is perfect for areas in the garden that are meant for socializing. Install soft lights overhead so they are not too glaring for guests.

Hardscape lighting

Gardens that include hardscapes will benefit from highlighting them with lighting. A good hardscape lighting choice is LED tape lighting, which is flexible and easily maneuverable around the different pieces of hardscape. Highlighting the hardscape with this ambient light can turn the different pieces into focal points and can create conversation pieces.

Combining the right shading elements with the right lighting elements can help any New Jersey resident create a beautiful landscape that combats the summer heat and becomes the envy of all of their neighbors.

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