Professional Landscape Lighting Tips

As day turns to night, take a look around your neighborhood. Chances are you notice the glow — that glow is the landscape lighting that accentuates and decorates the front and backyards of your neighbors. The growth in popularity surrounding landscape lighting can be attributed to the fact that people want to maximize their outdoor living spaces. 

As the landscape lighting industry becomes more prominent, so do the success stories and portraits of illuminated homes that illustrate the capabilities of light in a landscape — a result of “show, don’t tell”. Before-and-after photos are a staple of landscape and green industry projects, but few visuals tell the story quite like a home that was transformed from dark and dreary to well-lit, just by adding landscape lighting.

Not only does landscape lighting improve the visual of a home, but it increases the safety of driveways, walkways, entrances, and more. 

Why Choose Landscape Lighting?

Backyards are increasingly becoming extensions of the home. Equipped with patio furniture, surround sound, an outdoor kitchen and games for the kids — this is what the ordinary backyard has evolved into. When you invest in professional landscape lighting, you aren’t just buying the fixtures. You’re upgrading your property. 

Many outdoor living areas succumb to the darkness, keeping you and your family from enjoying your backyard. Professionally designed and installed landscape lighting can create a warm & welcoming atmosphere all on its own, but it can also serve as the perfect “supplement” to an outdoor living area. The addition of a few path lights or lighting a few of your more prominent trees can do wonders to draw the beauty from your landscape. 

While some homeowners are still attempting to maintain their halogen systems, the vast majority have upgraded to LED lamps or fixtures. The initial cost increase of LEDs is typically the biggest hurdle in the sales process, but the energy use, longevity, and flexibility of the LED simply cannot be ignored. The payback on the LED investment typically occurs in year two or three. Furthermore, many areas no longer allow the use of incandescent lamps and the halogen bulb is on its way to becoming extinct.

LED lights shine brighter while using less energy — a better visual and return on your investment. Your lights will perform better for a longer period of time. The initial cost investment is something that can be intimidating, however, you can expect to use your LEDs for up to 25 years.

Types of Outdoor Landscape Lighting

There are many different types of landscape lighting fixtures. A common misunderstanding is that a landscape lighting system should be designed based on the fixtures. A skilled outdoor lighting professional will, instead, focus on creating lighting scenes. They will identify high-traffic areas, focal points, and decide which features of your yard would benefit from the addition of light and how various lumen outputs may affect the various scenes as a whole.

The most common landscape lighting fixtures are accent lights, path lights, inground lights, wash lights, deck and structure lights, and underwater lights for those incorporating aquatics to their yard.

Path Lights

Path lights are often used to illuminate walkways and driveways to increase the safety and aesthetic of a property. As safety is often a main concern for those owning larger pieces of property, it’s no surprise that path lights are a staple of nearly every landscape lighting system.

Path lights can act as a frame or outline for any outdoor living area, serving a visual and functional purpose. 

Accent Lights

Accent uplighting and downlighting are also popular, but differ from path lights in that accent lighting is extremely versatile.

Whereas you may only utilize path lights in one or two scenarios, accent lighting can be used in unique ways to light trees, statues, ponds, flower beds and even your home. A well-placed downlight can recreate moonlight and often replace several path lights.

Inground Lights

Inground lights, also known as well lights, are used to create a seamless look in both landscape and hardscape settings. The fixtures are non-obtrusive and often used in lawn areas where a knuckle-type fixture might be clipped by a mower. Since these fixtures are exposed to ground moisture and can easily fail, it is important that a lighting professional select fixtures appropriate for the application.

Wash Lights

Similar to flood lights, wash lights use a wide-beam to completely illuminate a large wall or portion of your landscape. The soft, diffused light is ideal for privacy walls or hedges. 

Deck and Structure Lights

If you’re looking to illuminate a patio or hardscape, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with deck and structure lights. Available in different shapes, sizes and finishes, these lighting fixtures are best used on applications such as deck railings, steps or wall lighting. 

Utilize a wall light or strip light to enhance safety and define the edges of your hardscape countertop. Add overhead bistro lighting for parties and entertaining. Often a lighting professional will create different combinations of lighting and light levels that can be controlled and adjusted by the homeowner based on how they are using the space that particular evening.

Underwater Lights

Ponds and other water features have become a popular addition to ordinary landscapes. A handful of underwater lights placed along the edge or within the water feature will create a soft, warm glow that attracts the eye.

Adding light to water produces a different effect than is typical of most landscape features. The serene heavenly glow of the gold hues is something of a fantasy. You’ll feel warm and fuzzy just thinking about it. 

Want to make the water feature a focal point? Stagger a few uplights or add a single wash light to the base of the design. 

Smart Landscape Lighting

Homeowners are interested in technology that automates the functions of their homes.  Just as they can control their heating and cooling system, sprinklers, security system, and garage door, a homeowner now has the capability to control their lighting system through their smartphone.

Smart landscape lighting systems are able to be controlled by apps via smartphones or tablets, offering users complete control of their fixtures, colors, outputs, etc. Many people assume high-tech lighting systems require complex coding or extensive programming, however, your lighting settings are controlled by digital sliders.

With the touch of a finger, you have the power to control every aspect of your landscape lighting system. It’s not overly technical or time-consuming — lighting vendors are creating their apps with customer experience as the number one focus. Smart lighting systems are intuitive, easy to use and an absolute necessity for anyone looking to get creative with their lighting. 

A transformer like FX Luminaire’s newly-launched Luxor 2.0 incorporates zoning, dimming, and color control capabilities into a single control system using a simple two-wire path installation.

Landscape lighting is a powerful tool when used properly. You can truly transform a house or property with a plan and some strategically placed fixtures.

To maximize your property and its potential, we recommend working with a lighting professional. You can discuss your ideas and the end product you’re hoping to achieve. Trained outdoor lighting professionals understand proper light levels and incorporate many visual design techniques that will take your lighting system to another level.

More importantly, they will ensure the electrical system is designed to be safe and reliable, following both National Electric Code standards and local codes required for low voltage lighting installations. They also offer ongoing maintenance to ensure your lighting system operates as it did the night it came alive. Contact your local Reinders store for a trained lighting professional in your area.

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