Garden Lighting Design Basics

The garden, whether large or small, has become a prominent staple of landscaping design. And lighting is often a standard addition because it adds special effects and an ambiance that is impossible without it.

Garden lighting will add beauty and elegance to your plants, flowers and greenery. And if the design is executed correctly, you will add brilliance, color and creativity to your outside landscape.

If you hire a professional to install and design your garden lighting, make sure to have an idea of what you want before you start the work. The garden lighting designer will have many colors, sizes and shapes of lights from which to choose so it’s important to do some preliminary research.

An expert planner will always try to fit the geographical area as well as your personality before deciding what to include in the design. With hundreds of different companies that manufacture and offer beautiful, contemporary as well as traditional styled lighting, it is imperative that discussion and choices are made before any lighting fixture is ordered.

There are 10 top categories of lighting techniques that are used by most garden lighting designers:

  1. Accent Lighting – This is used to cast small spots of warm lighting which in turn creates a very soothing experience.
  2. Flood lighting – The polar opposite of accent lighting, these are broad, bright light beams that instill drama to a garden.
  3. Spot lighting – Though not as widely used, spot lights can highlight specific elements of the garden you want to emphasize.
  4. Cross Lighting – Similar to spotlighting in its effect, this dramatic lighting is also used to emphasize special shrubbery or trees.
  5. Silhouetting – Used to highlight various types of doorways, arches, even outline trees; it can be more subtle than other forms of lighting.
  6. Shadowing – This type of lighting is used when there are dramatic plants to showcase along a back wall where shadows are desirable.
  7. Spread Lighting – If you want large areas lit, this type of lighting is used in a design to bring a bright effect to shrubbery and even lawns.
  8. Up Lighting – One of the most popular techniques and used in all kinds of areas and both large and small gardens, it is used to cast an “up” type of lighting in front of trees, sculptures, decorative walls, parts of fencing or any other element you want to emphasize.
  9. Moonlighting – The opposite of up lighting, moonlighting is used to create a mood that will make it appear as if your plants are in the reflection of a full moon.
  10. Underwater Lighting – This lighting can be used in anything that is water based such as pools, pond lighting, etc.

Obviously, when on a budget, it is very important that the garden lighting designer make the most out of each light that is chosen and installed. Lastly, the fixtures should be hidden out of view so that the emphasis of sight is on the lighting itself and not on where the light is coming from. The lighting planner should always assure the homeowner that none of the lights will be positioned where they will come in direct eye contact with people. Safety is a top priority in any lighting design.

Whether you use a professional or tackle the project yourself, garden lighting is a landscape design essential and one that will be enjoyed by you and your guests for many years to come.


Are you Taking Advantage of Low Voltage Landscape Lighting?

Every homeowner takes pride in their home and its appearance on the inside and out.  And curb appeal does not have to be limited to just the daytime hours. In fact, more and more people are becoming aware that as the sun sets, their home can actually radiate curb appeal and look even better than in the light.

As landscape and garden lighting is becoming very popular, homeowners realize that the trees that were purchased, the pond that was dug and even the walls and fence surrounding their home can be highlighted and emphasized to create many different effects. And even though this is a worthwhile investment that will increase the value and curb appeal of their home, all of that electricity can prove to be very hazardous.

Electricity which runs from the outside lighting into your home can hold 120 volts, an amount of electricity that can pose a rather grave risk to you, your family, your visitors and your pets. The various inclement weather conditions, regardless of where you live in the world, also greatly increases the danger your outside lighting poses. Although many don’t give it a second thought, if you are considering landscape or garden lighting, consider reducing the amount of voltage to a very safe 12 volts.

Low voltage landscape lighting offers more than just safety benefits. Lamps that are low voltage are more efficient, giving off more light per watt of electricity that is used. Also, the 12-volt lamp units last longer and there is less maintenance needed with this system. Lastly, installation is much easier because of the flexibility of wiring.

Some other benefits of low voltage lighting include:

  • Low cost operating expense compared to 120-volt lamps
  • Many more choices available
  • Safe and reliable
  • 12-volt lamps are more compact and keep the focus on what you are lighting rather than on the lighting fixture itself.
  • Better quality of light with natural effects
  • More options available in 12-volt lighting like quartz halogen
  • Capable of more specialized lighting effects with exact beam control

Low voltage lighting holds many benefits but with one small downside: The lighting fixtures are somewhat dimmer as you get further away from the transformer. But even with this problem there are easy solutions. Using a heavier-gauge cable as well as a higher-rated transformer can take care of the problem nicely and with minimal expense. And if there is a much larger area to consider, multiple transformers can be used or you can allow the dimming effect to be incorporated in your overall design.

Remember, it is also very important that you light essential areas for greater safety at night. Paths, gate areas, ponds, pools and statues should be lit in a way to avoid accidents for your visitors, small children and pets. Overall, landscape lighting can be fun and creative as well as safe and efficient.

If safety, less electricity usage and more lighting options sounds like good news to you, it may be time to consider low voltage landscape lighting. Incorporating low voltage within your design and budget will give you many years of safe enjoyment.

How to Choose a Landscape Design that Matches your Personal Style

Creating a landscape lighting design can become quite overwhelming with so many styles, sizes, categories and finishes of lights from which to choose. At the end of the day, your landscape design should not only provide important safety features, but also make you feel welcomed and proud.

When designing your landscape, consider your home style and the design elements within it. Are you drawn to modern, sleek finishes? Rustic, outdoor features? Traditional, elegant design? By assessing your preferred indoor style, you can easily translate that to your outdoor landscape and match your home’s inner beauty with your outer design.

Below are a few of the most popular design styles to help you make your choice:

Victorian / Old World – This style is characterized by detailed scrolling and fancy features. You will notice a Victorian home by its ornamental decorations and columns along with wide porches evident of a Civil War era.

Rustic Charm – Rustic lighting will be more textured and rough in appearance characterizing its natural, organic style. Rustic homes are reminiscent of the lodge style with a hand crafted look to them. If you enjoy nature and a more organic look to your garden as if it were an extension of an outdoor log cabin, rustic charm is the style for you.

Traditional – Traditional style lighting is similar to Victorian but not as decorative. This style is more elegant than ornate. A traditional landscape design will not overtly jump out at you, but it will feel calming and inviting much like a cold iced tea on a hot summer day.

Modern – Modern lighting is sleek, smooth and sophisticated. The modern style is a perfect choice for homeowners who love the industrial feel of polished silver and the harsh lines of square shapes and designs. Finishes similar to these smooth step deck lights will round out your modern landscape design while providing a safe entrance for visitors. Modern landscapes always appear uncluttered and clean in appearance as well.

Asian – Asian-inspired style is reminiscent of oriental and Japanese design. If you prefer a zen-like landscape fitted with bonsai trees and Asian architectural elements like a flat roof and rectangular windows, you may be interested in an Asian-inspired landscape design.

The Tropics – If you dream of whisking away to a desert island in the tropics on a daily basis, a tropical landscape design may be just what the doctor ordered. The tropical style is more synonymous with a climate rather than a design style. If you live in a warm climate, you can bring in the ambience of your environment by using your lighting to highlight the palm trees and foliage synonymous with your area. Consider more whimsical lighting design and on outdoor furniture, add accessories of fruit bowls with pineapples, guava and papaya to highlight the style even more.

Regardless of the style you choose, your landscape design should make you feel like you are at home. Bring your inside environment into your outdoor landscape and enjoy the seamless transition from the comforts of your home to the wonders of the outdoor world.