Landscape lighting provides function and safety to your outdoor spaces and when done right, it creates a relaxing atmosphere while highlighting the best features of your home. But installing an outdoor lighting system goes beyond hanging up a few lanterns in the yard, and there are some key things to consider before embarking on such a project. In this article we’ve put together the basics of landscape lighting, a few outdoor lighting tips, the most common issues, and the do’s and don’ts of landscape lighting to help create an outdoor space that truly wows—even after the sun has set.
Table of Contents:
- Landscape Lighting Basics
- Outdoor Landscape Lighting Issues and How to Fix Them
- Landscape Lighting Choices and Placement
- Outdoor Lighting Do’s and Don’t
- Bottom Line
Landscape Lighting Basics
The two main objectives of landscape lighting are safety and aesthetics. Safety is easy to keep in mind: an entryway should always be well lit, just like all the areas where you need high visibility for security cameras, as well as most walkways and steps. This doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on aesthetics though, a successful landscape lighting design should combine both aspects.
The key questions to ask yourself is: what do you want to highlight and what do you want to hide? You can highlight the unique architectural features of your home, your garden pond, and some trees. You can also play with shadow and light to add drama to the scene. Walk around your backyard and think about the function of your spaces. Where will you entertain guests? Which paths should always be lit? Make sure to look at your outdoor areas from different angles and check your indoor lighting too to see how it contributes to the ambiance.
If you take time to understand the function of your spaces early on in your landscape lighting project, it will also be easier to choose the right outdoor lighting fixtures, their placement, and color temperature as well.
Outdoor Landscape Lighting Issues and How to Fix Them
Landscape lighting should highlight the best features of your home while blending into its surroundings. This can only be achieved by making sure that unwanted light pollution doesn’t happen.
Badly positioned and poorly installed lighting may create glare that is unpleasant and blinding to the eyes. If you notice your outdoor lighting shining into your indoor rooms or washing out the views of the stars, some adjustments are necessary. Fortunately, the most common outdoor landscape lighting issues can be easily fixed with a just few steps:
- Aim and position lights carefully
- Use fixtures with shielding to concentrate the light where you want it
- Opt for low-wattage bulbs to avoid harsh light
- Control your light zones with timers, controls, and motion sensors
Landscape Lighting Choices and Placement
The wide choice of outdoor lighting fixtures available can be overwhelming, especially if you are new to landscape lighting. However, these fixtures are designed to perform a specific function. If you keep that in mind, it will be easier to make the right landscape lighting choices.
» Pathway Lighting:
When it comes to pathways, you do not want to stumble in the dark! You can increase visibility by post lights, step lights or outdoor sconces.
» Entry Lighting:
Entrances should provide a sense of security at night, but at the same time, they should be warm and inviting. A post light placed on either side of the door will do the trick. Make sure to light up the back and side entry doors as well.
» Garage Lighting:
While your driveway needs only a few dim lights, for garage lighting, opt for floodlights installed at the highest point of your garage.
» Deck Lighting:
Deck lighting is used in areas where missing a step would end in a fall, such as around the edges of steps, decks and fences. For increased safety, use integrated deck lights and add variety with deck post lights or wall lights.
» Hanging Lights:
Chandeliers, lanterns and pendants are best used for decorative purposes, in a seating area for instance. They can also add interest to boxy spaces like patios and porches.
» Moon Lights:
Moon lights tend to be brighter than other outdoor fixtures to help illuminate tall trees from above.
Outdoor Lighting Do’s and Don’t
Every outdoor space calls for different lighting designs but there are a few guiding principles that apply in most cases. To avoid common mistakes and to create an outdoor space that stands out, consider the following do’s and don’ts:
» Layer Your Lighting:
Lighting, in general, is divided into three main layers, and each of these calls for different fixtures. Overall lighting illuminates the whole space, task lighting is used for a specific purpose (such as path lighting), while accent lighting is meant to draw attention to an object or specific area (using spotlights or floodlights).
» Install Enough Fixtures:
While it can be tempting to install just a few bright lights, this would create strong shadows and possibly, glare. You are more likely to achieve a relaxed mood with many dimmed lights instead.
» Go for LED Lights:
LED lights are not only long-lasting but they consume significantly less energy than halogen lights. They come in a wide variety of colors, brightness levels and shapes to suit any need.
» Forget Variety:
Using only one type of lighting can look flat and one-dimensional. Instead, go for a variety of fixtures and add depth and texture by varying their brightness.
» Use Bright Lights:
While cooler, brighter lights have their place in lighting designs, warm lights tend to be a better choice for residential outdoor spaces. Color temperature is measured on the Kelvin scale—the higher the number, the cooler the light—aim for the 2500K-3000K range for outdoor lighting.
» Overdesign It:
Less is more—a cliché, yet very true when it comes to landscape lighting. Too many fixtures create clutter and drive away the attention from the best features of your home, instead of highlighting them.
A well-designed landscape lighting system provides safety for your home, and enhances your outdoor space by highlighting its best features. Need more landscape lighting ideas? Book a free consultation with Hevi Lite, your outdoor lighting experts at 818-341-8091 and start designing your dream outdoor space today.