Landscape Lighting Design: 2D Plans and 3D Renders

A 3D render of an outdoor landscape lighting design for a home. It is set at night.

Landscape lighting can transform outdoor spaces with the right products and placements, but, even if you have an incredible vision for a project, it can be difficult to communicate these ideas to a client. Landscape lighting design 2D plans and 3D renders will help to visually demonstrate how lighting will look in a space, and how it will function. In this article, we explore the differences between 2D and 3D landscape lighting design, and how you can determine which style is best for your project plan.


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What is 2D Landscape Lighting Design?

A photo of a person using a stylus on a tablet screen showing a graphic of a 2D lighting plan.

A 2D graphic plan is a powerful tool used to create detailed, digital layouts of outdoor landscape plans. These plans provide a birds-eye view that helps landscapers and contractors plan out intricate outdoor lighting schemes.

Using 2D graphic drawings to plan outdoor landscape lighting gives professionals, and their clients, the opportunity to visualize the potential outcomes of their designs before they are installed in the real world. This helps to ensure that the finished product is aesthetically pleasing and adheres to all specifications.

How to Use 2D Plans for Outdoor Lighting

A photo of a tablet screen showing a graphic of a 2D lighting plan.

Similar to a blueprint, a 2D graphic planning will include architectural details such as the home or buildings, the front walkway, water features, hardscapes, and other landscaping features. Other elements of a 2D landscape lighting design will include a legend identifying which outdoor lighting fixtures are used and where, and a visual explanation of where wire runs and low voltage transformers are located.

A 2D plan of your landscape lighting design could be an ideal choice if you are in the early stages of planning your project and need to communicate your ideas to a client quickly.

What is 3D Landscape Lighting Design?

A 3D render of an outdoor landscape lighting design for a property with a pool, hot tub, and gardens. It is set at night.

3D graphic rendering offers professionals a vivid view of their designs in the real world, providing extremely realistic digital images of outdoor landscape plans. Using photographs of outdoor spaces and their unique features, 3D renders are created using specialized computer software to ensure that all ideas are accurately captured so they can be installed correctly.

Both professionals and their clients will have an easier time imagining a space with a 3D design, compared to a 2D design, as 3D models offer a more in-depth look at how the lighting will affect the entire atmosphere of an outdoor space.

How to Use 3D Renders for Outdoor Lighting

A photo of a person looking at a computer screen showing a graphic of a 3D lighting plan rendering created by in-lite.

Similar to what you would see in a virtual reality game, a 3D graphic rendering looks like an aerial or first-person view of a house, front yard, backyard, or garden. 3D graphics will display a general view of the landscape lighting techniques planned for a property and will draw attention to the exact placements of the planned light fixtures, their general shape, and their size. 3D graphics can also show the soft light beam direction and how wide of an area each fixture will illuminate. 

For example, a 3D rendering will showcase architectural elements including a house with a moonlit effect and dramatic shadows. It can also display a glowing garden lined with bollard lights or a pool deck with hardscape lighting.

Purchasing a 3D render for your landscape lighting design is an ideal choice if you want your plans to look as realistic as possible, or if you are looking for a final sign-off of a concept from a client.

Example of a 3D Design Featuring Outdoor Lights

At in-lite, our designers can create a one-of-a-kind visualization of your landscape lighting plans in three simple steps. 

  1. Select one of our lighting packages for a front or backyard.
  2. Send us photographs of the landscape design and your plans.
  3. We'll send you your outdoor lighting plan within three to five business days with our lighting design tips and recommendations.

Below is one of our favorite examples of an illuminated 3D render. This eye-catching design was created to show how lighting fixtures from in-lite could illuminate this front entryway at night.

A photo of a person holding a tablet showing a graphic of a 3D lighting plan rendering created by in-lite.

This plan featured recessed path lights installed on the ground in the driveway. The glow of the LED lights adds safety and beauty. The addition of outdoor lights to the front of the house highlights special design features that would otherwise be quite dark. 

A selection of landscape lights highlighting the shrubs and planting beds were added for extra brightness.

Key Elements of an Outdoor Lighting Plan

We recommend starting with a landscape lighting design plan before purchasing any low-voltage lighting fixtures to help you create the best plan for your clients. 

Here are four key elements to keep in mind while creating your plan:

  1. Use your original yard design, or draw your own as a reference.
  2. Start by determining your viewing angles.
  3. Include outdoor accent lighting to illuminate pathways, stairs, and perimeters of patios and decks.
  4. Combine different types of lighting for the best effect.


Now that you understand the difference between 2D plans and 3D landscape lighting renders, and the advantages of each, you can decide which type of render is best for your project. If you’re still unsure or have more questions, our team would be happy to chat and help you determine what's best for you. Contact our team today to discuss your options.

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