The Art of Landscape Lighting
There are many purposes for landscape lighting. Landscape lighting can add...
Beauty = Landscape lighting can highlight landscape and architectural features that will bring dramatic beauty to your night time landscape.
Security = Landscape lighting to your property you can deter vandalism, thievery, and peeping toms. People that are up to no good avoid well lit properties.
Utility = Landscape lighting can be applied to patios, steps, pools, and anywhere else that light may be needed.
There are many different techniques for landscape lighting, such as...
Up lights = are used to light plants trees, and any kind of structure. They are the most common form of landscape lighting.
Down lights = are usually used to light driveways statues benches and pathways. They are also used for under soffits to light any building. They are different then moon lights because there are no shadows cast by them.
Path lights = are used to light paths beds rock features, water features and borders of pools, patios and decks. They should not be used to line driveways. They can’t stand up to the abuse of the snow plow. It is far better to use down lights or in ground lights to light drives.
Water lights = are used in water feature lighting, pond lighting, waterfall lighting, fountain lighting and pool lighting. Water lighting is a good place to think about using fiber optic landscape lighting which has more color choices and an enchanting effect.
Moon lighting = is when we install lights in the trees shining down through branches creating a moon light through the trees effect. It is great for lighting driveways, paths, and open area where you want to have more light.
Deck lights = are used for fence lighting, gazebo lighting, and pergola lighting. Grill lighting, playhouse lighting, tree house lighting. And Seat wall lighting. They can be mounted to the sides of surfaces or clipped under ledges.
Ground lights = are lights that are mounted at a very low profile to ground level. This makes them great for deck floor lighting, patio floor lighting, sidewalk floor lighting, or driveway lighting. The big advantage of these lights is that you can drive a car over them without any damage being done to the fixture.
Fiber optic = landscape lighting gives you your choice of colored light. Fiber optic low voltage lighting is mostly used for borders of pool and ponds because there is no need for wires near the water. Fiber optic outdoor lighting can also be used to create a border of light around any structure. Now there are fiber optic water lights for under ledges of waterfalls. When you want to have vibrant color in any part of your landscape fiber optic lighting is the best answer.
After you have installed your lights you need to choose your bulb intensity. A good rule of thumb is the taller the object to be lit the higher wattage the bulb should be to light it. By using the right bulb strength you can balance a landscape lighting design.
Here are some basic guide lines...
20 feet tall = 20 watt halogen bulb or a 3.0 watt l e d bulb
35 feet tall = 35 watt halogen bulb or a 4.5 watt l e d bulb
50 feet tall = 50 watt halogen bulb or a 6.5 watt l e d bulb
75 feet tall = 75 watt halogen bulb or a 9watt l e d bulb
100 feet tall = 100 watt halogen bulb or a 12 watt l e d bulb
Here are some of the basics of lighting design. Design a balanced symmetrical lighting job.
When lighting trees point up into the canopy the larger the canopy the more up lights it will require to get a great effect 1 light on a big tree will only light part of the canopy. On very large trees it may take up to 4 lights to get the effect you want.
When lighting architecture place fixtures 1 foot off the face of the building pointed towards the soffit. And space equally across the face of the building do not white wash the building from a distance unless it is a factory. Do not shine light into the windows position on either side.
When using path lights space them 4 to 5 paces apart. Never use cheap fixtures they cost more in the long run.
The average landscape lighting installation uses 12-2 cable. Never put more than 100 watts on up to a 100 ft of 12-2 cable run. Longer runs should have less watts or larger diameter cable.
Always make wire connections by stripping cable and fastening with a silicone filled wire cap. Absolutely no alligator clip electrical connections. If you are installing low quality fixtures that come with the alligator clips on them, cut them off and make a good electrical connection.
If you can afford it always use led fixtures they will save you a lot of money and headaches in the long run.
Now that you have some understanding of your lighting options, it’s time to design your landscape lighting. A good landscape lighting design is balanced and tries to achieve symmetry through the use of the different lighting techniques. This can be as few as 3 lights or as many as you can imagine. It really depends on your budget, taste, and objective.