Planning Your Landscape Lighting
Landscape lighting is fast becoming an integral part of the landscaping industry, as more and more people realize the benefits to their homes and businesses. In addition to added curb appeal, lighting can add warmth and security to any garden, walkway, or entrance. Whether you're looking to enhance an existing system or start from scratch, planning your landscape lighting will help you achieve a look and feel that are both visually appealing and within your budget.
Outdoor Lighting Basics
Despite the differences between how light is interpreted during the day versus evening, the principles of lighting remain the same. The color, intensity, and type of bulbs you choose will impact energy costs, lifespan, mood and safety. Color is rated by number, with values listed by Kelvins(k) such as 2700k, 3000k, or 4100k. Warm light has a value in the 2700 to 3000 range, neutral has a value of 3500, and cool, white light, 4100 and up. Bulb types include:
- Incandescent - Easy on the eyes, but has the shortest lifespan, while using the most electricity.
- Halogen - A more efficient, longer lasting, dimmable version of the incandescent bulb.
- Compact Fluorescent (CFL) - Long lasting, energy efficient producers of white light.
- LED - Costly at the outset, but you'll recoup your investment easily in low energy costs, and tens of thousands of hours of use.
Great landscape lighting consists of a variety of layers, encompassing accent, ambient and task lighting. Ambient light determines the overall level of light for the space, providing the bulk of the illumination, while task and accent lighting are complimentary to it. Task lighting is designed to fill a need, such as a light over an outdoor cook space, or brightening a pathway; accent lighting is more decorative, drawing the eye towards a specific feature, or area.
When planning your landscape lighting, consider how you'll control the level of illumination and turn components on and off. Dimmer switches allow greater flexibility over the amount of light used depending on your needs, while a timer gives you the freedom to set your fixtures to turn on and off automatically,. Motion sensors can be effective in areas where security is an issue, or for extra safety, and can be programmed to turn off after a desired amount of time.
Location, Location, Location
When it comes to the placement of outdoor lighting, you're only limited by your imagination, though there are a number of areas where it is highly recommended, including:
- Entryway - Light up all entrances, with lights on either side of the doorway, or from above.
- Driveway/Garage - Lights in and around garages enhance security. At your home, consider adding low-voltage lighting alongside the driveway for longer distances. For businesses that have parking garages, lighting is essential for helping customers and clients locate their parked vehicles.
- Deck/Patio - Extend your living space, or highlight task areas with strategic lighting.
- Steps - Avoid accidents by illuminating the treads, risers, or alongside steps.
- Pathways - Lead the way with low-level down lights, or lit paving stones.
Landscape Lighting Tips
Light pollution is a concern, where poor placement or excess light can waste energy, annoy neighbors, light interior rooms, and create a blinding glare. Use low-wattage bulbs, and aim lights carefully, testing at night from a variety of angles. Other tips include:
- Use a variety of light sources and techniques for visual interest.
- Less is more: your eyes require much less light outdoors than in.
Before you begin planning your landscape lighting, call the experts at The Grounds Guys®. Our experienced, knowledgeable, trustworthy team is equipped to handle all your outdoor lighting needs, and our free consultation and price quote can help you make the best choice for your home or business.