Landscape Literacy

Maybe It’s Time for New Outdoor Lighting

As you consider building or improving on your outdoor living spaces, remember that outdoor lighting is an essential part of the landscape. Outdoor lighting creates a “Wow!” factor when done correctly. Creating focal points and “layering” lighting can drastically change the impact of one’s property once the sun sets.

The primary goal in designing a lighting plan is to illuminate key elements of the property. Key architectural elements that should be considered include: entrance ways, peaks, columns, and stonework. Landscape elements that should be considered are: fire places, fire pits, pergolas, outdoor kitchens, retaining walls, water features, and focal points. Safety also needs to be considered when is comes to lighting. Steps, paths, and elevation changes should also be illuminated. Lighting plans can also increase ambiance in key areas, such as pool or outdoor dining lighting.

Plant material also creates a great impact when illuminated. Specimen plants should be illuminated, and the key is to highlight exfoliating bark, an interesting branching pattern, or colorful foliage. It is also important to use more than one light fixture on trees. Trees will look one-dimensional if only one fixture is used.

Light fixtures should vary in brightness, which creates a layering element. By creating a hierarchy of landscape elements, you’ll know which features should be more illuminated than others.

Have existing lighting? Consider upgrading your bulbs to high efficiency LED bulbs. It’s well known that halogen lights burn out quickly, compared to their LED counterparts, but what you might not know is that they also decrease the longevity of your fixtures. Not only do halogen bulbs burn hot, but the heat can often calcify condensation inside the fixture, causing corrosion of contacts and wire splices, while also leaving a white haze on the inside of the fixture lens.

While LED bulbs are priced higher than halogen bulbs, they pay for themselves within the first 25 replacements of your halogen bulbs. This cleaner, greener option allows for much better illumination of the intricate details of your landscaping. Your lighting hardware will thank you, as well. LED lighting uses much less energy, allowing you to install more lights on a single loop without the fear of overloading your transformer, fixtures, and wires.

Outdoor lighting is a great asset to your landscape. It increases your property’s value and really sets it apart!