Top landscape lighting effects for your garden

Lighting plays a key role in landscape design. However, lighting should be used strategically to preserve the natural beauty. Rather than lighting the whole garden, which can look artificial, create pools of light around key features plants, trees or a water feature while balancing dark, unlit areas.

To achieve stunning results, you can take advantage of some popular lighting techniques. Below are some methods for achieving the lighting effects commonly seen in professionally designed gardens. You can apply these techniques to your landscape, as they work with any style. Just choose the effects that works best with your space and features.

The technique of uplighting involves placing a directional fixture close to the trunk of a tree and directing the light upward. This effect emits a soft moon-like glow to the tree.

 

Not surprisingly, downlighting is the opposite of uplighting. The fixture is placed elevated above the object rather than below it. Smaller trees benefit from this technique, as it casts light through the tree below.

 

Silhouetting lights a vertical surface behind an object resulting in a dark outline of the object. This technique is effective for bringing the focus to an object, like a tree or plant located close to a wall.

 

If you place a directional lighting fixture in front of an object, it will cast a shadow on the surface behind it. This technique is known as shadowing. Play around with the size of the shadow by adjusting the distance of the light fixture in relation to the object. The further the light source, the smaller the shadow.

 

Lighting adds a special effect when fixtures are placed under the water. Well lighting contributes to a warmer ambience and a reflective water surface. Add colored lenses for a creative and dramatic look. The same effects can be applied to ponds, fountains or any other water feature.

 

Pathway lighting is helpful when lighting paths and walkways for security purposes. The paths should be completely visible but not too bright to cause glare or pollution. Low-level lighting will deter intruders and illuminate dark areas while preventing a severe glare.

 

In addition to creating dazzling views, appropriate garden lighting also creates a safer environment around your home, particularly when it comes to deck lighting. Add a beautiful design fixture while illuminating steps, deck edges and changes in elevation for safety.


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Tips for your first garden lighting project

Lighting your garden is more of an art than a science. Whether you are hosting a party or simply enjoying some alone time, the mood of your space is important to create the effect you desire. If you are creating a landscape design for the first time, check out some of these tried-and-true tips from experienced landscape designers:

Define the project
The first step to creating a mood with your landscape lighting is to define what kind of mood you would like to create. This is easy if you start by thinking about what activities you will be performing in your garden. Will you be entertaining in this area or simply enjoying the view? Do you want to illuminate a few of your favorite features or the whole garden evenly? Once you have clarified how you will most likely be using your outdoor space, it will be easier to choose the best lighting solution to fit your needs.

Draw a plan
Next, you will need to put your plan to paper. Make a diagram of your garden area and decide where you want lights and what effect you are going for in each area. Below are two examples of mood and the appropriate lighting techniques for each:

  • Subtle ambiance: Path lighting is the easiest and most effective way to create a warm glow for a night stroll or intimate gathering.
  • Highlighting features: Directional lighting is perfect for creating a more energetic and lively mood. Whether it is a fountain or a creative arrangement of seasonal flowers, your lighting can set the focus on those areas to give your landscape a “wow” effect.

Try it out
Once you have a sketch of your garden, try testing the design. Put the lights where you would like them to be and see how they look. Move them around until you are happy with the results. At this point just make sure you don’t overlap the lighting from different fixtures, or cast light off a hard surface that will cause a glare. Harsh, intrusive lighting can be disturbing.

Trust your instincts
Finally, remember to trust your instincts because they always know best. At the end of the day, your landscape should speak to your unique personality and make you feel good about your home.