Tips on Where to Begin with Landscape Lighting

Congratulations on deciding to beautify your landscape with lighting! Lighting is one of the simpler methods to changing the entire look of a landscape without much effort. The effects can make a huge difference and upgrade the look and feel of your outdoor oasis.

If you are new around here and you are just toying with the idea of adding some elegant lighting to your landscape, you are in the right place. Some people want to jump in and do their entire garden, walkway, patio and surrounding area all at once, while others like to take it one step at a time. In this article, we will cover the three basic areas that are often lit to provide not only a safe environment, but also a dash of elegance and sophistication to any landscape.

Gather Ideas

Before you dive in, gather some ideas and concepts you like. Look through magazines or online websites to discover your personal style and the overall look and feel you want to achieve with your landscape lighting design. Take notes and cut out any pictures you like and collect them to show to a contractor or for your own personal reference when selecting lighting fixtures.

Garden

Your prize azaleas and award-winning rose bushes should be highlighted in all of their glory. Lighting can enhance and illuminate the areas on which you want to focus. Our LED Directional Bullet Light is perfect for up-lighting any flower garden, bush or smaller area. The 360 degree rotating shroud offers superior movement so you can change the direction at any time. Solar lights will also work well to accent any garden element.

Walkway

Walkway lighting is one of the safer methods to achieving a complete landscape lighting design. In addition, walkway lights can add a warm glow to your design and create an elegant path for walking. Too many or too few lights can either be too unsafe or appear too cluttered. Keep the lights at a close enough distance to ensure adequate light for safety reasons without cluttering the walkway with too many fixtures. You can either keep them parallel or stagger them on either side to create a more random look. Use colors to enhance the walkway, such as amber or soft yellows. Be careful not to use too many colors, though, as your design can appear chaotic. One color per walkway will suffice.

Patio or Porch

The patio area allows for extreme creativity since a diverse variation of lighting is available. You can add stair or post lights for safety and a more updated look. Or use decorative lighting on walls or spotlights to accent plants and flowers. The sky’s the limit with what you can add to your porch area. If you take a look at what elements you want to highlight you will have a starting point from which to work. Include safety features as well, for this is one of the most important elements of a landscape.

Landscape Lighting for Smaller Spaces

We often dream of expansive backyards filled with lavish greenery, ornate fountains, koi ponds and babbling brooks. But, some of us barely have enough yard space to hold a garage-store BBQ and a hand-me-down patio set. Should you abandon your dreams of a beautifully lit landscape if your space and your wallet won’t allow it? Never!

Your backyard may not look like it was designed by Rockefeller, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a few elements to make you feel like a king—even if your castle is far from reality. Outdoor lighting at any scale gives an outdoor area much-needed attention and can make you feel cozy and comfortable as well.

Small Houses and Small Yards

If you own a small house, add some lighting to your outdoor area to make it feel like an additional room of the house. Do you entertain in the space? Guests will appreciate the space and consider it an extension of your home if it is properly lit. Solar-powered lights are inexpensive and work well to light pathways or steps leading to a patch of grass where guests congregate. Additionally, if you have any special features, even if it is a cute bird feeder, consider lighting it to add interest.

Patios

If your patio is your only oasis, you are not out of luck. Low voltage or solar lighting provides an adequate amount of illumination without overpowering the area or hedging into your neighbor’s property. Avoid strong spotlights or harsh beams. Install lighting on railing posts or on post caps lining your patio stairs.

Globe patio lights are a beautiful design element for any patio. If your patio is on the large side, consider a single globe light that stands on its own or can be floated in a pool for an extra effect. If space is a concern, use smaller globe lights strung together and extend them in different directions above the patio to create a beautiful ambiance at night.

Porch Light

For all the homeowners or renters out there with miniscule backyard space, there is still hope. Most people have porch lights which help to illuminate the outdoors whether they own a balcony or a one-acre yard. Consider a light that provides maximum illumination for guests and for safety, but also unites the outdoors with the indoor decor to further exemplify your design style. Install the light high enough to illuminate the area but not low enough to glare in people’s faces. Look for lights that cater to your design style like modern, contemporary, mission-style, or Southwestern. Even something as insignificant as a porch light can uplift your outdoor space regardless of how small it is.

You may not own a 10,000 acre estate, ripe with well-landscaped grass and prize rose beds, but you can still make your small space your own with a little effort. Get creative and think outside of the box when it comes to your landscape lighting. Sometimes good things really do come in small packages.

How to Choose a Professional Landscape Designer

All professional landscape designers are the same, right? Well, not necessarily. All will vie for your business, but not every designer will be the best fit. And some may even be scam artists in disguise.

Proper preparation is essential to prevent potential mishaps and legal issues. If you do your research in the beginning, you will enjoy a seamless experience in the end.

Licensing

Every homeowner wants to hire a landscape company that is licensed, but do you know what to look for? There are several different licenses and each hold a different meaning. Check your state requirements. Every company should have general liability insurance and carry additional certificates as defined by the state in which they do business. Insist the company shows you their certificates of liability and make sure they carry adequate insurance.

Complaints and Reviews

Companies may add testimonies to their websites but they may be fabricated. Ask for references. Contact previous customers and ask them if they are happy with their end result and whether they would recommend the company. Take a look at their landscaping and see if it meets your level of quality. Ask the references if the company communicated with them throughout the process and their opinion on the level of reliability. Inquire about any hidden costs or overages and how they adhered to the time limit of the project. Check with your local Better Business Bureau for any complaints as well.

Fixed vs. Estimated Costs

An estimate is not the same as a fixed price contract. Some companies will offer an estimate to get you to agree to its services and pull the old “bait and switch” at the last minute. Request a final proposal that specifies final pricing.

Remember that you get what you pay for. Don’t be dazzled by excessively low prices. It costs money for a landscape company to pay for labor, materials and equipment. If a company quotes you a low price, the difference may not be coming out of its profits, but in the level of quality and materials.

Get everything in writing before you sign. A contract should specify materials, time limits and final costs and anything else you deem necessary.

When you compare estimates, remember the phrase, “All things being equal.” Each estimate should contain the exact same materials, time limits and scope of work. If one condition is different, you are not comparing apples to apples and you risk dealing with less-than-qualified contractors.

Guarantees

Does the company offer any guarantees? Does it stand behind the value of its work? Not all companies offer guarantees and some offer only partial guarantees. When you compare, read the fine print. Look for a promise of 100% satisfaction with no stipulations.

If you perform the research prior to choosing a landscape designer, the process is sure to be seamless and enjoyable. There are many reputable companies that will create a beautiful design within your price range and parameters. You just have to roll up your sleeves and do a little legwork to find them. Good luck!