Basics of Outdoor Landscape Lighting: The First Steps

If you spent good money on some killer landscaping for your yard, but the streetlight situation in your neighborhood leaves something to be desired, don’t fret. Outdoor landscape lighting is a wonderful way to brighten up your yard and enhance your property’s visual appeal long after the sun goes down.

However, before you dive in blindly and buy lighting fixtures, learn the ropes of outdoor lighting for your landscaping. The two basic types of landscape lighting are fixtures that rely on electricity and those that depend on the sun.

Low-Voltage Landscape Lighting

When you opt for outdoor landscape lighting that relies on electricity for its power, choose a low-voltage option. Low-voltage landscape lighting is safer than its powerful high-voltage counterparts, and is much simpler to install. You will also enjoy a much lower power bill.

Low-voltage landscape lighting is a fantastic way to light up a hidden garden path or showcase trees and shrubs in your front yard at dusk. The dim lighting is a hauntingly beautiful way to display the best your lawn has to offer, and it provides enough light to create great ambiance for an outdoor party or cookout. You can also use the fixtures to light a sidewalk to “up” the safe navigation factor during the nighttime hours.

A system of low-voltage lighting requires a few inexpensive items for installation: a transformer to supply power for your lights, cords, and the light fixtures themselves. The transformer will protect against electric shock if something severs a wire. Typically, landscapers run the cords below ground for greater aesthetic appeal, and they hide the wires by covering them with rocks or other landscaping elements.

Solar Landscape Lighting Options

If you don’t feel comfortable with electricity in your yard, you still have some options. Solar landscape lighting is an alternative way to give your yard a bit more character at night. In the past, landscapers dismissed solar fixtures as weak landscaping lighting systems that failed to stand the test of time.

But, things have changed. Many solar landscape lighting models have batteries with a much longer life span, and they have the ability to hold more energy from the sun than previous versions. Solar lights work by collecting energy from sunlight through solar panels. At night, that energy charges a special battery that produces bright, powerful light-emitting diodes (LED).

LED is a newer technology that allows solar landscape lighting to burn much brighter at night than other battery-powered models, and many can hold a charge for up to ten hours each night. LED lights are great for use around your driveway and along walking paths. They not only lights up your home beautifully, but they also add vital illumination that will help you park your car safely at night. When placed strategically, LED lights can guide you to your porch without tripping, and enable you to unlock your front door without fumbling for your keys in the dark.

Once you choose your preferred lighting method, stand in front of your home and take careful inventory of your yard’s landscape. Decide where you would like to place your lights and install the fixtures. Once the sun sets, you’ll have a revamped abode that will light up the night.

Proper Planning of Your Landscape Lighting Design

Without a plan, landscape lighting designers are dead in the water. Even skilled landscapers understand the value of a detailed, well-thought out blueprint. Without a plan, mistakes are nearly guaranteed, and whenever time and money is wasted, another set of problems surface.

If you just moved in or you are getting ready to tackle your lighting project, you will be anxious and excited to install those lights and get your yard one step closer to your vision. Unfortunately, haste results in failure and it is not uncommon for homeowners to rush the process because they are too excited to wait and plan it out properly. Just remember that your excitement will turn to dread when a failure to plan turns into an emotional headache.

First Steps

The purpose of a plan is to avoid future mistakes. When you start the process, you will notice how everything fits and any potential inconsistencies will surface during this phase. For example, your vision may include a particular fixture next to a tree, but when you plot the dimensions on paper, you realize they are too close and do not blend well as it relates to the overall yard.

Draw your plan to scale with 1/8”=1” being appropriate for most properties. Use graph paper and add every feature of your yard with tracing paper. If you are technical, try one of the many computer software programs available. The programs make it easier to envision how changes would look in real time. Make sure to include every surface and feature such as walkways, driveways, porches and patios, borders and all gardens.

Measurements

Start by measuring your property line and recording the data into your program or on paper. To make the process easier, measure the distance from your property line to one corner of the house and use this as a reference to measure the remaining sides of the house.

Will you entertain in your yard? Live outdoors a lot? Think about how you will use your outdoor space. Contemplate the idea of terraces and patios, their location and proximity to the sun. Also consider the areas that will need more light at night for safety and entertaining purposes. Some areas will need basic functional lighting to provide illumination for guests and deter thieves from entering your property. Additional light will serve an aesthetic purpose and should be placed where you want the most emphasis.

Lighting

Decide which lights you will use for your design. There are many from which to choose including energy-efficient options as well. Pay attention to the installation of each type and choose based on your willingness and expertise. Think about maintenance and overall costs to run the lights on an ongoing basis. And remember—when designing lighting, less is more. Be aware of the natural tendency to go overboard.

If you stick with a plan, you will avoid most mistakes. A little time before the process will save you months of heartache and regret, and give you the exact design you envision for your landscape.

 

How to Create a Modern Oasis with your Landscape Lighting

Looking for a way to modernize your landscape design?

Amidst the traditional backdrops and outdated scenery, you can “rev” up your space with sleekness and sophistication and inject a contemporary feel without much effort. A modern design will not only make you feel like you finally stepped into the 21st century, but it will also add so much character and life to your  home. Regardless of the size of your home or the space with which you have to work, modern updates will help to create a more contemporary style to match the times.

Where to Begin

The first step is to decide the purpose for your landscape. Do you want more practicality? Are you interested in keeping up with the Joneses? Do you have some modern features already built in that need to be featured? Once you devise a purpose for your space, you can come up with a plan that will help you meet your goal. What do you want the end result to look like? Without a clear purpose as to what your end goal is, your process will be muffled and you may not get the results you desire.

Contemporary Designs

Your lighting should look modern and sleek. If you prefer the modern touches, avoid lighting in old-fashioned styles like lanterns. These finishes are beautiful, but not in a modern landscape design. You will find sleeker designs if you look for lighting with stainless steel or chrome finishes or even cast aluminum with a smooth finish like our LED Tulip Landscape Light.

If you want to modernize your space even more, consider arranging the lighting in a modern way. Typically, the less ornamentation and clutter, the more modern the space will be. Space out your lighting fixtures so they are not too close together and keep everything clean and minimal. Install lighting around your patio or garden area to make your landscape the envy of many, yet completely functional as well.

Modern spaces contain horizontal and vertical lines. Swirls, circles and ornate details will edge you away from the contemporary look and bring your design into more traditional. Keep it simple and you will be much happier.

Lighting Type

The design of your lighting, though important, is not the only element of a modern landscape design. Pay close attention to the type of lighting as well. For a contemporary touch, LED lights are a great choice. Consider LED string lighting or even adding a color. Be careful, though, not to add too much color all at once. It can create a more chaotic look and pull from your sleek, modern design. White lights are the cleanest looking choice with one or two colors to add extra emphasis in featured areas.

Whatever you do, be careful not to overdo it. Modern design is all about simple and subtle looks with sleek finishes. The simplest additions can sometimes be the most effective and adding too much at one time can create more clutter than sophistication.

How have you created a modern landscape design with your lighting? Please share!