Installing outdoor lighting in hardscapes such as this bar, allows the source of the light to be concealed.
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While many of us are working hard and putting in long hours on the job, we often don’t get a chance to see our homes until after dark. Soft lighting in a dark outdoor environment is nothing short of magic. It provides a warm, inviting ambiance that beckons us outdoors. It creates mood, romance, and drama. It adds interest and intrigue to any setting. A growing number of homeowners are capturing this magic in their gardens through “nightscaping,” one of the hottest trends in outdoor home improvement today.
Landscape lights also serve a number of needs, from letting you walk safely down a flagstone path at night, to giving you a place to spend time with your family after school and work. Outdoor lights even deter burglars and reduce crime. Yet for homeowners, choosing which areas to light can be a challenge. Here, landscape professionals share their expert tips for lighting different areas of the landscape. If you’re planning for lighting in your landscape, this section will give you a better understanding of what to expect when landscape lights are installed, where the best places are to put lights, how to create effects with lights, and much more.
Home-owners and developers alike are placing more emphasis on night lighting. Hardscape contractors and designers can benefit from this growing trend by learning some basics about low voltage lighting and adding it to their menu of services. Low voltage lighting is easy to install and can be a great profit center in a day and age where we could all use a little more contribution to overhead.
Here down lights were installed to make the bench a focal point.
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Lighting can be one of the most important aspects of landscape and hardscape design, yet it is often overlooked or underdone. Proper outdoor lighting design allows you to highlight focal points and hide eyesores. It can also be used to enhance safety and security, to accent special trees or plantings, and to create a festive atmosphere for outdoor entertaining.
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Scott Cohen, contributing writer for Landscaping Network and owner of The Green Scene
Use this free guide to easily scan the options for landscape lighting effects. See how 9 different techniques and fixtures create unique lighting results.
Genevieve Schmidt, contributing writer for Landscaping Network and owner of North Coast Gardening
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I prefer to conceal the source of light whenever practical. Integrating light fixtures into our hardscape designs is a great way to do that. Down lighting from wall windows, countertops and benches conceals the source fixture but provides ample light for a path or focal point while protecting fixtures from careless gardeners, wild children and rambunctious pets.
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Landscape lighting is more than just shining some direct light at a walkway or up a tree. Not only are there techniques and methods for creating ambiance with lights, but some contractors even prefer to accent the architecture of the home rather than the trees or walkways or patio areas. Home lighting gives you the chance to highlight architectural features like pillars or columns, or enjoy the shadow play of lights on the craggy surface of stone veneer. “When you have a beautiful home, sometimes it’s more effective to light the architecture than the trees,” says TJ Wilcoxson of Alexon Design Group in Gilbert, Ariz. You can also pull features off the architecture and bring them into the landscape so the home and landscape feel integrated. “We’ll sometimes create a pillar using the same stone veneer as the home, and match the fixture on the pillar to the ones on the home,” says Barton. It’s professional tips like this that will help you learn about landscape lighting and make informed decisions when you’re working on your own project.
As a garden designer, I almost always prepare a separate lighting plan and show clients my recommendations for fixture placement and creating lighting effects in their garden. Even with all the computer technology available, I still prefer to use a simple stamp kit to create a lighting plan in just minutes. Homeowners are often surprised at how little outdoor lighting costs and how energy efficient it can be when working with low-voltage fixtures. In an average landscape it will cost about $18-$25 per month to use an outdoor lighting system front and back for about four hours per night. That ongoing utility cost can be brought down further by investing a little more upfront for LED bulbs which are so frugal they only sip electricity.
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