However, you need to be careful about not overdoing it. If the lights are too bright and overbearing, then instead of beautifying the outdoor spaces it will overpower them and defeat the entire purpose of setting up a landscape lighting system.
There are three basic types of landscape lighting — accent, ambient and task. Depending on the space, either two of these or all three need to be combined for the best results.
You don’t have to draw up an elaborate plan, but it’s advisable to create a rough plan on a piece of paper. Just mark the pockets of spaces around the house and types of landscape lighting you envision for each. You experience this space day-in-day-out. You know it’s vibe and rhythm. So, let your imagination guide you regarding how you want each space to look like. In case you need lighting tips for specific areas, like the patio or the garden, there’s something for you later in this article.
Now that you have a rough plan ready, it’s time to pick up the light fixtures that will make the plan come to life. It goes without saying that you will be using low voltage landscape lighting, which has essentially become the norm. This has enabled light fixtures manufacturers to experiment and come up with a wider variety of fixtures. So, you can choose the intensity of light you want from the fixtures, the build quality of the fixtures to ensure they are weatherproof, the color of the light, etc.
All light fixtures these days are available in LED, so there’s really no excuse to not buy them. Yes, they will cost you a little more than what incandescent lights will cost, but they last much longer. LED light fixtures will consume less energy as well, so you will end up saving on your electricity bill.
Unlike in indoor lighting, you don’t need to worry about reflection in outdoor lighting. Reflection can be nuisance indoor and really prick the eye. However, glare creates a similar issue in outdoor lighting. In order to ensure that none of the lights fall directly into people’s eye and have an blinding effect, you have to be position the lights carefully and shield them where required. This is where the planning and judicious choice of light fixtures help.
For example, if you plan to use the patio to entertain guests or hang out in evenings with your family, then the aim should be create a soft glow. It will illuminate the entire space without being too bright and intrusive. So, spotlights aren’t ideal for the patio, but well lights placed strategically on the floor, aided with hanging lights or wall lanterns looking overlooking the patio make more sense.
One of the primary reasons why landscape lighting is important is security. Along with installing light fixtures in flower beds and ponds and highlighting the architecture of the house, make sure that all the entrances to the house are well lit as well. Lighting the pathways is important, as otherwise someone might trip and fall. If there are steps, make sure those are brightly lit too. Also, make sure that there are no external lights directed towards the rooms that provide a direct view towards the entrances.
Typically, the term landscape lighting is interchangeably used to denote garden lighting. Since, patios, backyards and to a lesser extent decks can all be considered to be part of the outdoor space connected to the house, so landscape lighting can refer to lighting systems designed for these spaces as well.
Gardens greatly differ from house to house. Some have elaborate gardens with fountains, intricate lawn design, multiples pathways, hedges and more, while others are simple with a few flowering plants, a single pathway leading to the front steps and maybe some vegetables growing on one side. So, the lighting design will also vary depending on the garden. The most common elements in a garden are trees, flowering beds/plant beds, hedges bordering the garden and possibly a small pond.
Pathways are an important element in the landscape design of a house. They connect the garden to the backyard or patio, the front entrance to the driveway, etc. Depending on the gradient of the landscape, the pathways may include steps as well. Lighting up these pathways and steps at night is firstly a necessity, because then you can see clearly and walk without the risk of hurting yourself. In addition, it makes the property look more appealing and inviting to yourself and guests who come visiting.
Lighting up pathways is quite straightforward. The only decision you need to make is whether the light should focus solely on the pathway or do you want to highlight some of the features around the pathway. In case the pathway is passing through the garden, you might want to throw some light on the hedges or plants as well. If you want the light focus only on the pathway, then the lights should be knee high or at most waist high. While, if you want to illuminate the surrounding features as well, then the lights need to be waist high or at most chest high. If the lights are too high, there’s a chance of glare. So, either adjust the height to prevent glare or buy path lights with adequate shield.
You can buy path lights in packs of 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and more. Also, path lights are available in more intricate designs and shapes than other types of landscape light fixtures, because these can be seen prominently.
In regards to steps, the only decision is between whether to light the risers or the treads.
Summer is the time of the year to spend as much time outside as possible. Work commitments, children's’ school, etc. prevent us from going out every day. But if you have a patio or a backyard, you can transform it into the perfect space to invite your friends and family for an outdoorsy evening together.
There you have it; a cheat sheet to help you set up your landscape lighting and make your evenings lit!
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