Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting is an exciting and dramatic part of a home's nighttime appearance. Proper lighting provides safety and curb appeal, while extending the options for outdoor entertainment. It also provides a warmth that welcomes guests while accenting essential features of the landscape. An attractive lighting scheme requires creativity and careful planning. It should be dynamic without becoming overpowering; muted in some areas, and brightly focused in others. Accent and focal lights should work together; it is not always necessary to use an abundance of lights when a few well-placed ones are sufficient. Walkways, for instance, should utilize downlighting to avoid glare; tasks such as grilling require a combination of general and directional lights. The entryway will benefit from decorative lighting that complements the features of the home. Twinkling light strings can create magic when placed in trees while torches are festive around a pool. Moisture-proof colored lights in or around water features enhance the overall ambience. In general, the design of landscape lighting involves the same practices as indoor design: general, task, and accent applications. Personal needs will determine the balance.

Types of Landscape Lighting Available

Homeowners can choose from three basic lighting types: standard house voltage, low-voltage, or solar power. In addition, some homes utilize fiber optics for their artistic capabilities or gas lighting for charm and a sense of tradition. Each of these will have conveniences and features as well as drawbacks. Standard 120-volt lights are generally brighter, while low-voltage and solar units are economical and long lasting. Low-voltage and solar landscape lights do not require professional installation. Dedicated gas lighting is generally less economical than the basic three; fiber optic systems are somewhat more expensive to install. The vast array of lighting designs makes it easy for any homeowner to find the right fixture for any budget. Flat-mounted lights are ideal around pools, on steps, and on deck rails. Post or coach lights are perfect for entries, while more decorative or whimsical styles are suitable for play areas and pools. Landscape lights also bring out the textures and colors of vegetation; these are available as miniature above-ground spots, downlights, or can be buried to conceal the fixture. Bulb types include halogen, compact fluorescent, and incandescent for bright white �� and flattering �� hues, and low- or high-pressure sodium lights that spread a yellowish cast but have higher efficiency ratings.