When it comes to landscape lighting, less is more. You need lights in order to make your outdoor living space functional, but you don’t want it to be lit up like the Vegas strip. What it comes down to is less: less glare, less energy usage, and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, more: more usefulness, more function.
There are many things that are a part of a landscape lighting design. The most important of these is what you do in your backyard. Do you hold parties? Do you want mood lighting for those late evening get-togethers? Our lighting designers have a series of questions for you that are used to determine the best lighting for your needs. We also consider your entire house and yard, since the architectural details, available open spaces and landscaping highlights all factor into the decision and overall scheme.
On top of this, we understand that subtle lighting is best. You don’t need high-wattage lampposts in your backyard. Instead, multiple low-voltage lights can produce plenty of light when set up properly. They are also non-glaring and use less electricity, providing you with the light that you need while remaining eco-friendly at the same time.
The best landscape lighting blends in with your yard. It’s unobtrusive, yet works to illuminate your surroundings. You don’t want a lighting scheme that shouts “look at me!” You need one that whispers it. Your lighting should also enhance your landscaping. For example, you have a retaining wall made of natural stone. In the right lighting, you can see the many shades and colors that make that stone look beautiful. In the wrong lighting, all that you see is a muddled mess that looks like it has a flat surface.
There are a number of different types of bulbs (called “lamps” by those in the know) and each has different characteristics. These include the Color Rendering Index (CRI), the color temperatures, bulb life, and the lumens per watt (the brightness of the bulb).
Although there are many to choose from, the most common type of bulb used in landscaping lighting is the halogen. These lights work in all different types of conditions and climates, last a long time, are affordable to replace when they burn out, do not use a lot of power, and can accurately portray color. All of this makes them very useful and versatile, but there may be different types of bulbs that will work better in your yard. The key is customization.
Speaking of customization, there are a number of different types of lighting arrangements to choose from, including:
Directional lighting is a lighting scheme that involves the crucial placement of lights. The shadows, interaction, shape and texture of what is being illuminated all must be considered. This type of lighting must be carefully planned so as define specific features while on overshadowing others. Safety and maintenance are also important.
Up lighting is exactly as it sounds – the lights are placed on ground level and point upward, casting dramatic swathes of light. This type of lighting is designed to highlight architectural and landscape features, although light shields and specific types of fixtures must be used in order to keep the light carefully aimed and not overpowering.
Down lighting is a lighting scheme in which the lights are placed above what they are supposed to illuminate. While this type of lighting can be used for special effects, it is also very useful for safety and security as well. The main thing to consider when designing and installing down lighting is maintenance, as it can be tricky to replace bulbs and main fixtures if they are too hard to reach.
This type of lighting consists of a wash of soft, gentle light that makes more of an aesthetic statement than a practical one.
Area lighting is practical lighting that illuminates a large area. It isn’t intended to accent any specific features, objects or textures, and instead is meant for more useful purposes. If you play a lot of sports in your yard and want a space where you can toss around a football after dark, then you would use area lighting in that space. However, because area lighting can flatten your perception, it wouldn’t be used in an area where social gatherings occur, like a patio.
Spotlighting is a type of lighting that illuminates a sole feature, such as a tree, a fountain, a statue or a flag. The trick in arranging a spotlight properly lies in enhancing the featured subject, not throwing a bright glare at it.
Shadowing can happen with proper up lighting, down lighting and even spotlighting. It occurs when the light hits a particular item, like a tree or a fountain in such a way that a beautiful and shapely shadow appears on the wall behind it.
Silhouetting is very similar to shadowing, and involves showing off very bold details, not just general shapes. It works best with interesting patterns or unusual shapes occur.
Security lighting eliminates hiding spots and provides plenty of visibility without a lot of glare. This allows you to see who or what is outside clearly. This type of lighting needs to be strategically placed, and should be designed to be useful but not ugly.
If you truly want to turn your landscaping into something beautiful, then consider putting in pathway lighting. These lights are low to the ground and project light along both sides of a pathway or walkway. They should be both beautiful and practical, and help people see where they are walking after dark.
Moonlighting is an interesting feature that involves strategically placing a mercury lamp in a tree. It is very useful in an area that doesn’t receive a lot of natural moonlight for any reason.
If you have a small pond, a fountain or a water feature in your yard, then underwater lighting may become a part of your landscape lighting design. This type of lighting can be set up in order to highlight a waterfall or underwater objects. It also increases safety, since it is obvious where the water features are in your yard.
Step lighting can increase safety and prevent accidents as it illuminates the steps in your yard. You can choose to embed LED lights on the edges of the steps, place the lights on risers, put them under the steps or simply place a few along the sides of the steps. Any combination of these will work.
LED lighting is ideal for landscapes, as the bulbs last for a very long time. You can get around 40,000 to 50,000 hours of illumination with an LED bulb. When compared to the 4,000 to 5,000 hours that a traditional bulbs is good for, you can clearly see the difference. On top of this, LED lighting fixtures are far more durable, require less maintenance and use less electricity.
Low-voltage landscape lighting can enhance the beauty of your yard, deck or garden, and fits into a number of different locations. They can be used on the edges of your walkways and driveways, can illuminate your deck, patio or pool, making them ideal for parties, and can be placed around the perimeters of your yard in order to provide security and safety. On top of this, low voltage lighting is affordable and very effective.
All types of landscape lighting need to be maintenance on a regular basis in order to maintain their effectiveness. Outdoor Solutions has a number of different maintenance plans available that will fit your needs. Some things that are included in our maintenance plans are bulb replacement, wiring repairs and reburials, connection repairs, fixture straightening, transformer inspections, timer resetting and any adjustments to the positioning of your fixtures. All of this may be necessary to keep your landscape lighting working year-round.
LEDs are ideal for commercial landscape lighting since they are low maintenance and the bulbs last for many hours. Traditional fixtures aren’t really built for outdoor use, as the bulbs only last for around 4,000 to 5,000 hours. LED bulbs can last for between 40,000 and 50,000 hours and their fixtures are designed to withstand harsh outdoor elements.
On top of this, LED lighting does not consume a lot of electricity and requires fewer watts. This means that you can put more fixtures on one transformer, reducing the required amount of wiring as well. Although the fixtures themselves may cost more than traditional ones, you will save money on the set up and on the replacement and maintenance, making LED lighting a very cost-effective choice in the long run.
Designing and installing commercial outdoor landscape lighting requires a lot of planning. The transformers, wiring and fixtures all need to be chosen ahead of time in order for the professional installers to do their jobs quickly and easily.
There is no way to prevent light bulbs from burning out. Even LED bulbs have a finite lifetime. This is why Outdoor Solutions offers a maintenance, troubleshooting and repair plan to our commercial landscape lighting customers. Our plans include replacing bulbs, repairing wiring, resetting timers, reburying wires, straightening fixtures, repairing connections and all other necessary repairs.