Landscape Lighting Tips

When night falls, the details you’ve worked so hard to include in your residential or commercial landscape should truly come into focus. That is if they have the benefit of exterior lighting to illuminate them. Landscape lighting provides a unique and aesthetically pleasing dynamic to any yard, garden, patio, walking path, or common area. There are a variety of lighting techniques that in combination create a beautiful and secure environment for anyone. For each technique there are fixtures that work better than others.

Silhouetting

Displays a dark image of the subject by lighting a vertical surface directly behind the subject. Effective to show shape but does not show the color or texture of subject. Choose a subject that is close to a wall and place the fixture out of sight behind the subject. Flood beam spreads work best.

Shadowing

Creates a shadow on a vertical surface by placing the fixture directly in front of the subject. The closer the light fixture to the subject, the larger the shadow. General-purpose lamps create a better effect.

Tree up lighting

Up lighting from base of tree. If flowers are on the outside of the canopy or foliage is dense, fixtures must be placed outside of the drip line. If flowers are all over branches or foliage is light, fixtures can be placed under the tree close to the trunk. The addition of a pale blue or mercury vapor lens adds a subtle moonlight color to the trees.

Tree down lighting

Downlighting from within the tree. Use with smaller ornamental trees to cast light around the base or through the tree with the fixture. Add a pale blue or mercury vapor lens to create a moonlight effect

Step and deck

Lights high traffic areas. Consider placing fixtures under built-in benches for a clean, inconspicuous look. All changes in elevation in the landscape such as steps or terraces should be illuminated for safety.

Path lighting

Creates symmetrical patterns of light for illuminating walkways and steps. Use in open area where plant growth will not interfere with light distribution. Avoid the runway look by staggering spacing.

Grazing

Enhances texture of a vertical surface by placing a fixture directly against the surface and aiming the beam directly up or down. Try grazing on brick or stone walls. It is not effective on siding, due to the shadows caused by the siding not being a flat surface. Wide floods work best. Fixtures should be placed 6-8″ from wall, aimed straight up.