Landscape Lighting Finishes the Look
A beautifully landscaped yard is not an accident. Homeowners achieve this look through hours of back-breaking work and consistent attention to every stray weed and leggy annual or though hiring expensive landscape architects and lawn maintenance teams. Therefore, outdoor lights that showcase this carefully cultivated beauty, with its rich shadows and perfectly planned diversity, only makes sense. Clearly an investment in landscape lighting is the next logical step for homeowners who value the aesthetics that a planned landscape adds to a home and to a neighborhood.
Homeowners who think outside the box and light the back yard create an outdoor living space that can be enjoyed both night and day. Doubtless, this is a plus both for everyday living and for the home’s value when the time comes for selling it. Technically, landscape lights could be a do-it-yourself venture; however, anyone choosing this route should be familiar with electricity.
Landscape lighting is low-voltage lighting that is stepped down from a home’s electrical system through a transformer. From here the cable is run to a waterproof “hub” that is located some distance from the home. The hub allows several cables to run to different parts of the landscape at the same time. The hub is important because simply “daisy-chaining” the fixtures tends to leave the first fixture too bright and the last fixture too dim.
Controlling the landscape lighting can be managed in several ways. The system can be connected to timers that sync with daylight hours, hardwired switches, keypads, or wireless devices.
Each of the several different types of landscape lighting fixtures has a specific purpose, which, if used properly, draws attention to the home’s best architectural attributes as well as to its best landscaping features. In addition, the right outdoor lights can make a routine element, like a privacy fence, appear artistic.
The most artistically lit landscapes have outdoor lights placed so that pools of light guide the eye from feature to feature — this is so much more attractive than garish light illuminating the entire area. Each type of landscape light fixture works in a unique manner.
- Garden lights have canopies that direct the light down into flower beds and ground cover.
- Wash lights emit a diffused light that gently illuminates flat details, such as retaining walls and privacy fences.
- Bullet lights project a strong, focused beam onto stand-out architectural points of interest, such as columns.
- Well lights are sealed and sunken fixtures that can be placed under special plantings for emphasis.
- Down lights are placed in trees to bring the area underneath into focus. For example, a garden path or a seating area with a water feature could benefit from down lights.
- Flood lights cast a wide beam of bright light and should be used sparingly.
Halogen versus LED Bulbs
Landscape lights use two types of bulbs: light emitting diode (LED) bulbs and halogen bulbs. LED bulbs use significantly less energy than halogen bulbs, and they can last up to 20 years — much longer than halogen. However, most LEDs emit a cool, blue light that does not send the same warm, welcoming message as halogen bulbs. Although some LEDs have a warmer look, the technology is still developing.
Even though changing bulbs more frequently can be annoying and expensive, halogen bulbs will probably create the look that homeowners imagined when they first planned to add landscape lights.
While landscape lighting is an investment of time and money, it pays off. Homeowners as well as guests and neighbors all enjoy the beauty that a properly lit landscape brings to a home’s façade since carefully planned lighting highlights both stand-out planting and special architectural attributes. Well lit homes are inviting and aesthetically pleasing, adding to the homeowner’s personal pleasure, the neighborhood’s ambiance, and that all-important curb appeal.