“Dark Sky” Compliant Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Jul 23, 2018

When you hear the term “dark skies”, you might have visions of alien invasion stories.  However, dark sky has another meaning for modern homeowners, and it has to do with the amount of light pollution people create.

If you’ve gone to the trouble to build an outdoor oasis, complete with custom landscape design, plenty of comfortable seating areas, and even an outdoor kitchen for increased use value (not to mention property value), you naturally want to highlight key features and ensure that you have adequate illumination to utilize your space after dark.  This means installing ample and varied outdoor lighting.

However, you don’t necessarily want to blast your neighbors with daytime level lighting late into the evening hours.  You’d probably also like to continue enjoying the incredible light show overhead that is the galaxy wheeling by.  In other words, you might want to gaze at the stars from time to time.

The lighting you choose for your Rock Valley, Iowa property can make a huge difference in the amount of light pollution you produce.  The good news is that you can take a “dark sky” friendly approach to lighting and still have adequate illumination for your needs.  Here are a few strategies to set you on the right path.

Down or Side-Facing Lights

The main thing to avoid if you want to cut down on light pollution is up-facing lights, or those that create 360-degree illumination (such as globe lights or naked bulbs, for example).  This can most easily be accomplished with hooded styles of light fixtures, although directional lighting can also work when used appropriately.  The good news is, you can find all kinds of lighting options designed for dark sky compliance.

You can use carriage lights or down-facing sconces for building exteriors, for example.  Or you can choose pathway lighting that features domed coverings so that the walkway is illuminated without shooting light up into the night sky (or the eyes of those trying to traverse the pathway).

Even landscape lighting need not shine straight up.  You can place upward lighting at a low angle to highlight landscaping or opt instead to place lighting high up in trees to cast a glow over your gardens below.  You can also place lights under benches or along the bottom edge of planters for added illumination and modern style.  There are plenty of ways to add light without necessarily blasting it up to the heavens.

Color Temperature

You might think your best bet is to choose lighting that mimics the true white of daylight, but the truth is you’re going to create a more attractive and soothing atmosphere by choosing a warmer color temperature, or lights that lean toward the golden end of the spectrum.  Look for lighting rated at 3000K or less for the greatest appeal and the least light pollution.


In addition to color temperature, you want to be aware of the brightness of light you choose, and this is one instance where less is more.  Security flood lights are one thing, but when you’re choosing light for outdoor entertaining in your Sioux Center, Iowa backyard, dim lighting can go a long way to provide for your functional and aesthetic needs when used appropriately.