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.

Tips for Maintaining Your Flower Garden

Is your flower garden ready to spread its wings for the summer? The sun is out and the birds are chirping and flowers are in full bloom. For the proud homeowner, their flower gardens are their pride and joy and maintaining them is a relaxing and enjoyable pleasure.

You would be hard pressed to find a flower gardener who doesn’t have a passion for the activity. From rose bushes to lilies and everything in between, the gift of flowers never disappoints. Gardeners spend their weekends taking in the rays and throwing on their gloves excited and ready to leave the workweek behind to be alone with their precious gardens.

For passionate gardeners, every tip can be a lifesaver. So, if you live and breathe your garden, let these tips help you hone your craft so you can continue to enjoy your hobby.

Compost

If you have a rainy season where you live or you just want compost on demand, consider making and saving compost. You will be “going green” and also supplying your soil with the nutrients it needs. Seasonal rain can leave the soil empty, and compost will be essential for those times when nutrients are needed most. Compost can be created from your garden leftovers and not only saves you on garbage disposal, but also helps the environment.

Sunlight

 

Most gardeners know where to plant flowers that need a lot of sun, but they forget about shade from neighboring plants. Avoid simply planting flowers wherever you like. You may want a certain type for a specific spot, but if the flower dies due to a lack of sunlight, it won’t be worth the gamble. If a flower needs sunlight, not only must it be planted in a certain area, it also must be planted away from towering plants that will block its sun. Before you plant, plot out the area on paper so you can visualize their placement to ensure they will have the appropriate amount of sunlight.
Don’t Cut Corners!

 

The corners are often a neglected area of the garden. If left untamed, weeds and greenery will expand into the area and make your garden appear smaller. To ensure your corners stay colorful and free of unwanted weeds, plant bright, colorful flowers that draw attention so the garden looks as big as it is beautiful.

Additional tips:

Do you have a nice lawn? There is nothing more beautiful than to ground a flower garden with plush, green grass. Another tip is to use natural elements to care for the soil instead of artificial substances. Flowers thrive in their natural environment and will do best with care that mimics what nature would provide. Additionally, don’t be afraid to add decorative features to your garden. Enhance the colors of the flowers and pull the entire landscape together with some decorative elements such as rocks, pavers, fountains and statues. As long as they don’t interfere with the growth of the flowers, they will enhance the look of your garden.

Enjoy!

 

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.