If your home is your castle, then your yard is an extension of that domain. Homeowners take pride in their gardens and lawn, but the hard work that goes into creating your slice of Eden gets lost when the sun sets. If the yard does not have well-chosen lighting to accentuate the landscape, then design efforts slip away into the dark.
Don’t let that happen. Here are some steps to take for enhancing your investment with outdoor lighting.
Consider The Outdoor Lighting Fundamentals
The first step in any design process is to think about your objectives and plan accordingly. Outdoor lighting is no different. Begin with the basics and review your needs for these essential elements.
- Entries, sidewalks and paths
- Stairs and steps
- Patios and decks
- Shrubs, trees and developed gardens
- Architectural features, fountains and pools
Think About the Use of Space
Make a list of how you use the space you want to light and what your goals are for that space. Does the family spend a lot of time cooking out and eating on the deck? Do you entertain on the patio? Are pathways dark and hazardous? Is there a beautiful water feature you want to highlight?
Once you have outlined how the space is used, go back and add your goals to that specific area. For example:
Entertaining on the patio – create a welcoming, romantic atmosphere
Cooking and dining on the deck – have sufficient lighting over the grill and indirect lighting near the table
Pathways – provide warm light to the footpath for safety but make it shine downward so it doesn’t destroy the peaceful mood of the yard
Don’t Forget the Front Yard
While most of your activities will take place in your backyard, don’t forget about outdoor lighting for the front. This is where you can create drama and striking curb appeal. Those beautiful maple trees in the front yard will be greatly enhanced by appropriately placed small spot lights. The amber glow of a yard light will say “Welcome”. A bright light directed to the house number directs guests to the correct home.
Your Yard is Not an Airport Runway
You see them in every neighborhood. Someone has figured out that outdoor lighting is important but hasn’t put a lot of thought into it. So they head to the big box store and buy a bunch of those solar powered lights you stick in the ground. You know, the ones that make the yard look like a runway.
You’ve invested serious time and money in your home and yard, why cheapen it with this dreadful approach? There are so many better options for creating mood and atmosphere. And also better options for fundamental safety lighting. Take the opportunity to strike a mood and deliver personality.
Do Some of the Work at Night
Once you have outlined objectives, walk around the yard at night and envision your plan. Get a true feel for the space in darkness. When you’ve determined your direction, set the fixtures in place and test them at night before permanent installation.
Check out these elements:
- Is the light providing the appropriate intensity and atmosphere?
- Examine how the lighting is casting shadows.
- Will light be shining in someone’s eyes?
- Is the light so bright that it washes out the evening sky?
- Make sure placement is not a lawn care or tripping hazard.
- Always take care not to shine lights directly into a neighbor’s window.
Determine Lighting Type
If you’re over 30, halogen has always been the light source of choice. Today, though, LED lights are adding versatility and durability to the mix. The advantages of LED include very long life meaning you won’t have to crawl into shrubs as often to change the bulb. They also stand up well to wind and inclement weather.
LED offers the ability to deliver reduced light or to be brightened as needed. This can enhance the landscape by creating a more robust or intricate lighting effect.
It’s All in the Timing
If you want one less thing to remember, set your outdoor lighting to a timer or choose a dawn-to-dusk feature. These settings can always be over ridden for special occasions, but an automatic process is one less task for you.
Whether you are creating a mood or providing safe pathways, outdoor lighting adds to the personality and charm of your home. It’s an opportunity to extend your usable space and enhance your lifestyle. Consider the options. Make a plan. And light up a whole new world.