Landscape Lighting Tips

by Rachel Laurendeau on June 7, 2012

You’ve planned out your garden beds, installed your irrigation system, chosen your trees and shrubs, and hired a deck builder. There’s just one thing you haven’t thought about: lighting up that beautiful landscape that you’re creating. Outdoor lighting is often overlooked but is an integral element of your landscape design as it not only enhances your yard but also offers an element safety and security.

Front and back entrances should be well lit to welcome family members and guest to the home. Your front entrance creates your home’s first impression so choose your lighting wisely. The light at your entryways will also add an element of security by enabling you to easily identify visitors before opening the door to them. Consult with a professional electrician before moving fixtures or making changes to your wiring.

Steps, paths and driveways should be illuminated to ensure ease of motion and safety after dark. These areas can be illuminated with post lanterns, wall lanterns along the house or low-level path lights. You can also use low-level path lights along flowerbeds to cast a circular pattern of light and bring your garden to life after dusk.

Outdoor seating areas, decks, porches and patios can be lit for use through the evening and to make them more inviting and romantic. Low-voltage mini-lights can be mounted under railings, benches and steps. Wall lanterns can be hung on walls and outdoor ceiling fixtures can be used under a porch or other overhang.

Grilling, cooking and serving areas are best lit by bright task lighting. You can mount lights on the railing or wall behind the grill, install a recessed spotlight on the roof overhand or use a portable outdoor fixture.

Pools, hot tubs and fountains can be illuminated with underwater lighting to provide an ambient glow to the area and add an element of safety for evening swimming or entertaining. A number of underwater options are available such as low-voltage, LED and fiber-optics or you can find floating solar-powered lights at many home improvement stores.

Focal points benefit from uplighting with soft spotlights. You can choose to light a special tree, waterfall or piece of art that you’ve chosen for the garden such as a sculpture, gazing ball or birdbath. This is a great way to draw attention to a meaningful object and works well either in the back or front yard.

Green Tip: according to the American Lighting Association, you can save energy by installing sensors or timers so that your lights are switched on for a certain number of hours in the evening or when motion is detected. To lessen light pollution when using uplighting or spotlights, aim the fixtures so that the light is captured by your eaves or dense tree foliage.

A number of cities have special building code rules related to outdoor lighting regulations and restrictions. Talk to your electrician or check with your local building inspector before you install outdoor or landscape lighting.

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