A Case For Outdoor Lighting
Few home enhancements can deliver the same impact for your home improvement dollar as the addition of professionally designed and installed landscape lighting.
Homeowners today are spending more time outside the confining walls of their homes. A great deal of time and money is being invested to create beautiful and relaxing outdoor living spaces, only to see them fade into the darkness, making the space unusable when the sun goes down. Bringing these areas of the home back into the light and extending your hours of enjoyment in these spaces is one of the primary functions of professional landscape lighting. With properly designed and installed professional landscape lighting, the homeowner can enjoy the exterior of their abode at night all year long.
The use of light fixtures to add a degree of safety to your property – as in walkways and steps — can be attractively planned to avoid the “runway syndrome” which many do-it-yourselfers fall prey to when purchasing ineffective solar lights from the local home improvement store. Professional designers can create art in illumination, utilizing an understanding of light and space, as well as the knowledge of wiring and low voltage electricity. A proper design would use a taller fixture with a cover that blocks the actual source of the light (light bulb), preventing glare. Well-designed light fixtures will cast the light down onto the walk area or steps, not into the eyes. It is also prudent to remember that these fixtures should be placed in non-turf areas so that mowers and weed-eaters are not forced to navigate around them causing damage or noticeable “tilting” of the fixtures. An alternate plan to safely light walkways and step areas could be the use of grow light. This effect is achieved by placing fixtures as high as 25 feet or more into the canopy of a tall tree allowing the beams to filter through the branches casting lovely diffused light below.
Path and spread lighting are only half of an excellent lighting plan. Accent lighting calls attention to key areas of the landscape, architecture and surrounding property attributes such as a special tree, a statue, or water feature. Even the texture of walls or tree bark can be highlighted. Common forms of accent lighting include down lighting, spot lighting, shadowing, grazing, cross lighting, silhouetting, and up lighting.
Down lighting, often called “moon lighting”, produces a soft, diffused effect by placing several fixtures high into the canopy of a tall tree to let the light gently filter through limbs and branches simulating the effect of moonlight, creating striking patterns on the grounds below. Using a spotlighting technique will bring attention to a particular object or architectural aspect, like a statue or archway. By selecting the proper fixture, lamp and beam spread, the lighting designer can make these features stand out in the landscape. By placing a light directly in front of and below an object, the designer can create dramatic shadowing on the vertical surface behind it. Changes in beam spread and the color of the light will generate a wide variety of effects which can be intense and extraordinary. An impressive affect can be achieved when the designer places the correct fixture close to a textured surface such as a brick or rock wall, or even a tree trunk, and shines the light across the surface. This grazing effect highlights the high points of the object forming shadows in the low points. To achieve a more three-dimensional look to an object, the landscape lighting designer may employ a cross lighting technique. Here, two or more fixtures are used to illuminate a statue, or a large plant or tree. Striking results can be attained by a creative and skillful designer using lighting to silhouette an object. Probably the most dramatic affect can be achieved with up lighting. Since all natural light comes from the top down, seeing the opposite light effect can be very powerful. A talented designer knows how to use this effect sparingly so as not to be too busy. By placing the right fixtures at the base of the tree, the lighting professional can reveal the inner structure of the tree with spectacular results.
When designing a landscape lighting system, the professional designer uses just the right combination of all these techniques to create a special look and atmosphere unique for each client. By selecting the proper fixture, lamp, and beam spread along with the understanding of light and space, professional lighting designs can bring the exterior of your home to life at night, and make that outdoor living space an area that is beautiful, comforting, and a joy to be in anytime of the day – or night.