While the winter temperatures cling to life in some areas, spring is on its way in. Finally! Most homeowners take the time to plan their landscape during the last days of winter, when excitement for the coming warmth and sunshine is at its peak. But sometimes, we forget to plan lighting in and amongst all the greenery to come. It’s important to realize you have more options than you think you do for landscape lighting; here’s a few points to think about and some tips for planning an amazing level of curb appeal this spring season.
Go big and go home.
Many people’s first reaction to the suggestion of landscape lighting is something along these lines:
“I can put a few solar stake lights along my walkway or beside my driveway. That’ll be great!”
And while it is great, it’s not exactly what we mean when we say landscape lighting. Landscape lighting creates an atmosphere in your yard and lawn after dark. Landscape lighting’s entire purpose is to combine the practicality of outdoor lighting with the beauty of your chosen landscaping to create a magical nightscape in front of your home.
Plan the plan.
Examine the following elements of your yard and landscape to determine what areas you want to incorporate into your lighting plan:
- Water features
- Unique architectural elements or pieces
Decide whether you want to provide plenty of illumination over functional areas like paths and entrances to reduce falls and increase safety. If you are going for a more artful approach, focus on the trees that will look incredible once they are illuminated after the sun sets. Do you have a fountain or other water feature that would simply sparkle when lit up? Whatever your focus, you need to have the plan in place before you go hunting for lighting fixtures and equipment.
LED for long-lived lighting fixtures
LED landscape lights are often rated for nearly 100,000 hours of use, so you won’t have to worry about replacing bulbs in trees or high on the walls every weekend. LEDs are also designed to withstand shock, vibrations, and many types of inclement weather.
Variety of Lighting Designs
There are generally three different types of landscape lighting options: overall, task, and accent lighting. Overall lighting illuminates an entire area, often your whole landscape, while task lighting is used for a functional, specific purpose. Some examples of task lighting include pathway illumination or entryways. Accent lighting spotlights or highlights architectural uniqueness or objects like trees and fountains. Using a few options from all three categories will make your yard truly come together.
Install at night
You may position your lights during the day, but you will still want to check them again that night. You won’t be able to see the full effect of your lights until it is as dark as it will be when you want to use them normally. The best effects are made when you can place the lights, turned on, in position after the sun has set.
Make sure to get timers
Like most homeowners, you are a busy person. The last thing you want to do is constantly have to turn on your lighting every night, and turn it off every morning. By using timers or dimmers that automatically take care of this for you, you can have a beautiful home every day of the year without extra effort.
Down, Up, or Across?
There are three different methods of placing lights in your landscape: downlighting, uplighting, and crosslighting. Downlighting resembles the soft glow of a full moon shining on your lawn and home. This is a very gentle lighting choice, and often seems romantic.
Uplighting is a bolder choice, and uses lights pointed directly onto featured elements of your landscape. This is often the style of lighting used for accent lighting (discussed above).
Crosslighting is a type of uplighting that uses two or more lighting sources pointing toward an element from each side. This can eliminate unwanted shadows and add more depth to a particular piece or your landscape.