Exterior lighting is the most popular outdoor living feature among homeowners, and a great way to transform your yard into a dreamscape during beautiful weather! Strategically placed landscape lighting can be used to illuminate walkways, accentuate features like trees and architectural details, and provide a sense of depth to the yard at night. In this article we’ll be exploring the types of lights, their purpose, and the best locations in which to use them.
There are two basic types of lights you can use: low-voltage and standard-voltage. The beauty of low-voltage lights is that you can add them to the yard and adjust their placement over time- say, as a tree grows, or as you add to your landscaping. Low-voltage wiring needs to be 6″ below the surface, which makes installation quick and easy. The new LED bulbs throw out much more light than past units and cost significantly less to install and operate. On the other hand, standard-voltage wiring is required to be 18″ below grade. It’s associated with higher installation costs and less flexibility; however, standard-voltage lighting will illuminate a larger area.
Which areas you want to light vary upon your specific landscaping, but the most common locations we see are pathways, plants and trees, and the house itself. Walkways and paths are obviously key as the lighting will allow you to safely navigate your yard at night. For stairways, consider using low fixtures, directional fixtures, or tread lights.
Landscaping illumination can be accomplished with directional fixtures shining upwards on trees or downwards from the trees for a dramatic effect. The house can be similarly lit with down lights in soffits or directional lights from below accenting the walls and overall structure.
Exterior illumination is often used to accent the house while making it appear more inviting and secure. A dark house is perceived as uninviting, whereas the soft glow of a house lit from the outside will pull visitors in. Light reflected off water features creates a dancing, shimmering effect that is beautifully mesmerizing. Trees or shrubbery that is lit will create a rich look as well. Strive to mimic how a full moon would illuminate the landscape with its gentle glow.
All of the lighting systems discussed here can be installed on switches from the interior, or put on timers to automatically turn on and off without any manual effort. Lately, many systems have become available that enable you to use your smartphone to control the lighting as well for an added element of flexibility and control.