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!

Use Lighting to Enhance Your Fall Landscaping

If you’re like many homeowners, chances are you shoot for a little splash of color around your home during every season. Spring brings us colorful dainty buds and blossoms. During the summer months, we’re greeted with flowers that are as bold as they are beautiful.

Once the days grow shorter and cooler and the summer draws to a close, flowers begin dying off and fall slowly creeps in. Your yard will change, and the lighting choices you make for your space should shift in tandem.

Adjusting Landscaping Lighting for Fall

Planting fall blooming flowers is an excellent way to add a splash of fall color to your property. However, they’re typically not as bright and eye-catching as some spring and summer flowers even though they add a shade of sophistication to your outdoor space. The best way to accentuate these blooms is to swap the regular blubs in your existing ground-mounted spotlight lamps for a slightly higher wattage. Not too high, though – you don’t want to irritate your neighbors.

Trees are a fantastic fall spectacle for your yard as well, which means highlighting the breathtaking changes in the colors of the falling leaves should be high on your list of to-dos for fall. Take the same action you did with your fall flowers: replace the bulbs in your spotlights for a set with a slightly higher wattage to show off those beautiful autumn colors falling from the branches of your trees.

Outdoor Party Lighting for Fall

Autumn parties are a staple of any family’s fall agenda, so outdoor lighting for fall fiestas is another great way to dress up your space for the season. For example, you can use lanterns to line outdoor walkways along with seating areas. This will give your landscaping a rustic appeal that will add an injection of charm into your fall get-togethers.

Another outdoor party lighting option for the fall is glow jars. You can find these unique lighting instruments at craft stores, but it’s fun and easy to make your own for parties. An added bonus is that you’ll save money when you DIY. Simply snag some mason jars and give each one a coat of sheer white glossy paint. When lit, the jars will emit a soft white glow that will rival high-dollar party accessories from even the most ritzy of home décor catalogs.

You can also highlight the fall colors of your yard by installing string lights around the perimeter of your landscaping prior to your big “shindig.” Opt for soft yellow or white bulbs, and make sure the lighting is not too harsh. A good rule of thumb: the smaller the bulb, the softer the light. String up a few lengths of lights and wait until nightfall to get a feel for whether you need more or fewer lights to achieve the atmosphere you desire.

Fall lighting for your landscape requires nothing more than a few minor tweaks to your existing outdoor lighting system. For fall parties, a little imagination and innovation goes a long way – and helps your wallet out in the process.