Kichler Logo
Close up of an in-ground light, uplighting against an outside brick wall at night

Landscape Lighting Guide

In-Ground Lighting

As a model landscape lighting contractor, you want to have a lighting solution for every customer and situation. Yet what happens when you need an accent light, but you cannot have a fixture sticking up from the surface? Or, what if your customer wants to spread light along the ground in several directions?

That’s when you need to know about in-ground lighting.

In-ground lighting is popular with commercial accounts because a below-ground fixture is less likely to get damaged from activity around the light, including lawn care, as well as foot and auto traffic. In addition, it prevents theft. But the style can be right for residential customers, too.

When an In-Ground Fixture Makes Sense

Let’s look at a few specific scenarios when in-ground lighting makes sense. In all of these instances, you may not want an accent light sticking up above ground.

  • The location is in turf, where an accent fixture above ground would be a tripping hazard or vulnerable to damage from lawn mowers and weed trimmers.

  • The location is along a driveway or other concrete structure and accent lights would be too visible or in the way.

  • The location is around a well-traveled path, where foot traffic might damage an accent light or cause someone to trip.

  • The customer prefers the look of in-ground lighting. They simply do not want to see an accent light sticking up.

When You Need to Spread Light Along the Ground

Product image of a VLO 12V LED in-ground accent light in bronze

VLO 12V LED In-Ground Accent (16023CBR27)

Our 2700K and 3000K fixtures are equipped with the Lumen Effects System, which allows you to easily switch between three-lumen outputs: 350,550, or 850, with the use of the Magnetic Key. Available in 15, 35 and 60-degree angles and is IP67 drive-over rated to tackle static loads uo to 4600lbs - making it perfect for illuminating driveways and walkways.

Shop Now >
Product image of a 12V LED All-Purpose Recessed Light in bronze

12V LED All-Purpose Recessed Light (16140CBR27)

If you want to cast light along the surface of the ground, in-ground lighting is the best choice. Accent fixtures cannot direct light in multiple directions along the surface. One especially versatile in-ground fixture is the 12V LED All-Purpose Recessed Light.

Shop Now >
Product image of a 12V Brass Beacon In-Ground light

12V Brass Beacon In-Ground (15498CBR)

In-ground lights can produce impressive effects on driveways by casting beams of light across the surface. This look is becoming more popular, and there are some fixture designs that direct light to the sides, such as the Brass Beacon In-Ground and the 12V Brass Side Throw In-Ground.

Shop Now >

Some Limitations of In-Ground Lighting

In-ground lighting has advantages, but also some distinct limitations. Be aware of these, so you can help your customers make the right decisions.

  • Integrated LED in-ground fixtures come in all the same color temperatures, lumen levels and beam spreads as accent fixtures, but they do not afford the same flexibility when installing or directing light. Pick the location carefully. Unlike accent lights, in-ground fixtures are not easy to move. You can create a 15° tilt from 90° – and you can do this in two directions, forward and backward – but it’s not the same as an accent light that allows you to choose any angle in any direction.

  • If there is a heavy root base, it might not be the right location because digging may be difficult.

  • In-ground fixtures require some maintenance in all seasons. You have to clear off the surface: grass clippings, leaves, snow, etc. You also need to trim around them if they are in turf.

Installation Recommendations

  • In-ground lighting in soft dirt – The most popular surface for in-ground lighting is soft dirt. To install a fixture in this surface, you want to dig a hole 3-4 inches wider and 12 inches deeper than your fixture. Backfill the hole with pea gravel until the fixture is level with the ground. Connect your fixture to your trunk line. As with any fixture, leave a coil of extra wire below the ground, in case you need to move the fixture later. Fill in around the fixture with soil to secure the fixture in the ground.

  • Accent light below ground – With the aid of a special component, it is possible to install an accent light below ground, in lieu of an in-ground light. Kichler Lighting makes a Well Light Universal Sleeve Kit (16190) that you can place in the ground just as you would an in-ground light. Then, you can insert most Kichler accent lights into the gimbal and adjust the angle of the light. There are also several accessory tops available, allowing you to further customize the design.

  • In-ground lighting in concrete – To install in-ground lighting in concrete, use the pour kit available from Kichler Lighting: PAR38 Well Light Concrete Pour Kit (15608AZ). This hollow, bucket-like piece is placed in the bed before the concrete is poured. Run your conduit up to and under the kit and pull the wire into the pour kit, leaving yourself some extra wire. After the concrete is poured and dry, the in-ground fixture will fit easily into the space preserved by the pour kit.

Product image of a well light universal sleeve kit in black finish

Well Light Universal Sleeve Kit (16190)

The Well Light Universal Sleeve Kit enables you to place an accent light below ground and adjust its angle.

Shop Now >
Product image of a well light concrete pour kit in bronze

Well Light Concrete Pour Kit (15608AZ)

The Well Light Concrete Pour Kit is placed in the bed before the concrete is poured. When the concrete is dry, the in-ground fixture will fit easily in the space preserved by the pour kit.

Shop Now >

Know When to Go with the In-Ground Option

While concrete, soft dirt and turf are the most common applications for in-ground lights, they are not the only ones. Wooden decks, as well as brick and stone patios and pathways, are also possibilities. In-ground fixtures are more work to install, but they may be your only option when the situation calls for a fixture that is out of the way of foot or auto traffic, or not visible above the surface. Know your way around in-ground fixtures, and be the contractor who is prepared with an option for every customer need.

Product or Installation Questions?

If you run into any challenges with in-ground lighting, Kichler Lighting is here to help. For installation or layout questions, contact the Advanced Product Solutions & Layout Team (APS).