Nighttime use of a landscape requires good visibility. It is not essential to highly illuminate all areas, but highlight specific areas like steps, entry areas and walkways to eliminate shadows and dark spots. Walkway lights can define the curve of a sidewalk or an abrupt corner. Lights around the perimeter of a landscape can define the area and create transitions from one area to another.
A landscape can come alive in the evening hours with just a few lights in appropriate places. Specialty lights can create color accents and glows. Flowers may take on new hues, pools and fountains have a special glistening, and moonglow lights create a feeling of a moonlit landscape.
Directional lights can accent a feature, emphasizing it more at night than it is in the daylight. Rain, fog and snow are much more dramatic in the night when illuminated.
Dark and light contrasts and shadow patterns are much more interesting with night lighting. Lamp grids or shields can be used to make well defined light patterns not possible in the daylight.
Landscape lighting is most effective when used in limited, subtle ways. Use lighting sparingly and in specific spots, and a landscape will come alive in a whole new way.
Adapted from an article