Outside Lighting Design Considerations

An important part of creating a beautiful landscape design is incorporating the right types of lighting. Not only will proper lighting allow you to enjoy your landscaping into the night hours, it can also help transform a great design into something truly breathtaking.

The first step to landscape lighting is to create a solid plan. Use a drawing of your outside areas to help you determine where you will place different lights. By drawing it out, and marking the spots where you want lights to be used, you can ensure that the final product is the same as what you imagine.

Part of your planning should be knowing how you want to use your lighting. There are two main kinds of lighting: practical (or functional) and ambient. Practical lighting will be used on places like paths, driveways, and any other place where you want to be sure that people see what is ahead of them. Path lights, up lights, and floodlights are good choices for practical lighting. Just make sure that you don’t overuse one specific type of lighting or fall into the trap of making it perfectly symmetrical. Perfectly spaced path lights along your front walk will make it look more like an airport runway than an elegant entrance to your home. A variety of lighting types and spacing will go a long way in creating visual interest in your landscape.

Ambient lighting is where you can have a lot of fun. Ambient lighting can help accent a certain feature of your yard or create a romantic hideaway amongst your plants. Things you’ll want to consider with ambient lighting are placement, brightness, and color. Ambient lighting should be subtle, helping to draw the eye to specific areas in a gentle manner.

One thing you should consider as you plan your light plot is light pollution. Some of the best ways to avoid light pollution are mixing up lighting with down lighting, putting your lights in subtle locations, or placing glare guards or other shades (such as lanterns) over your lights. This will help diffuse the light so it’s not glaring. It’s also important to make sure that your outdoor lights aren’t shining into the windows of your home or the homes of your neighbors.

Once you have carefully plotted out your lighting design, the last thing to consider is the voltage requirements. You want to make sure that you have the proper electrical power each light requires. Always install your lights according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Once your lighting is installed, all that remains is to periodically check the bulbs to make sure that nothing has been burned out and to trim back any plants that may grow to block your light. Other than that, all you need to do is go outside in the evening and enjoy the experience.