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Ideas and Inspiration

Apr 19, 2013

Lighting Tips

Top 5 Ways to Brighten Up your Landscape for Memorial Day

Celebrate Memorial Day in Style and Bring on the Night with a Refined Outdoor Lighting  Design

Beautifying Outdoor Path Lighting from Kichler

Beautifying Outdoor Patio Lighting from Kichler

Now is the time to evaluate outdoor and landscape lighting needs in preparation for the summer season.  The conditions are perfect for outdoor lighting installations.  Early evening hours allow for viewing your property and designing a lighting plan to maximize your outdoor living space.

Improving your outdoor lighting design not only extends your living space, but also boosts your home’s perceived value by 20 percent according to a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors. *

Redefine your outdoor environment by turning a deck or patio into a splendid oasis to be enjoyed day or night throughout the year. Outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, fire pits, and space heaters are being added to many patio areas to extend outdoor living well beyond the spring and summer months.  To make these areas as comfortable, safe, and maintenance-free as possible, great lighting is key.

Design Questions to consider for perfecting your outdoor lighting system…

  • Is my light delivered to the desired areas?
  • Are light levels comfortable for safe navigation and outdoor entertaining?
  • Are unique landscape features accentuated by my lighting design?
  • Is light evenly distributed and glare-free?
  • Is my system energy-efficient, eco-friendly and low-maintenance?
Unfinished Copper Path LIght from Troy Lighting in energy-efficient low voltage halogen

Unfinished Copper Path Light from Troy Lighting in low voltage halogen

Professional Outdoor Lighting Experts Provide the Answers:  Top 5 Designing Ways to Brighten Your Landscape

  1. Target desired outdoor areas with controlled layers of light—Low-level general illumination should be just enough to allow you to see where you are going.  Task lighting should be focused enough for you to see your house number and key hole  at home entrances; bright enough to see what you are cooking at the grill/cooking station.  Accent lighting should be strategically placed to highlight fountains, outdoor sculpture, and unique landscape features.
  2. Natural Highlights—Accentuate small trees such as a Japanese maple or sculpted evergreen and highlight attractive flowerbeds and cozy alcoves with subtle low-lights and lighting fixtures that gently graze the area.
  3. Perfect your Path Lighting—Choose low-level path lights alternating and evenly spaced up the walkway.  Low-level path lights are designed to spread circular patterns of light to brighten walkways, while highlighting nearby flowerbeds and shrubs.  These close-to-ground lights are available in a myriad of styles using energy-saving low-voltage current.  They are simple to install and can easily be moved to reflect changes in your landscaping.  Low-level path lights may also be used to define the boundaries of long driveways. Bollards, which stand 30-36 inches off the ground, work nicely for path lighting, too. Be sure to leave plenty of space between each path lighting fixture, alternating on opposite sides of your path.  You do not want your outdoor lighting to look like an airport runway!

    Weathered Verdigris Frog under Solid Copper Umbrella offer a whimsical landscape path lighting accent.

    Weathered Verdigris Frog under Solid Copper Umbrella offer a whimsical landscape path lighting accent.

  4. A Step Up—LED strip lighting under steps, railings and benches provides security lighting with a custom-tailored appeal. LED lighting is becoming increasingly popular for residential use, especially to light outdoor areas, as they are long-lasting and extremely durable, radiate very little heat, and use up to 80 percent less electricity than standard bulbs. Include automated timers and motion sensors in your outdoor lighting plan to further increase energy-savings and provide additional maintenance-free security.
  5. Beware of Glare —Choose fixtures that are shielded to avoid emitting superfluous illumination; excessive outdoor lighting is uninviting, uncomfortable and invasive. When installing outdoor path lighting and patio lighting, think about the contrast between your home entry zones and your outdoor lighting fixtures.  Aim for a contrast ratio of less than 5 to 1 between your outdoor illumination and the home entry or foyer illumination.  Use dimmers on all foyer fixtures to limit the contrast for guests leaving or entering your home. **
Eco-friendly, energy-saving, beautifying outdoor lighting by Varaluz

Eco-friendly, energy-saving, beautifying outdoor lighting by Varaluz

**Extra light does not always mean we can see any better.  Excessively bright outdoor path lighting and patio lighting can actually make it harder to see at night and diminish safety and security. The human eye has the ability to adjust to extreme levels of light and dark; however, abrupt changes in light present problems as the eye can only adapt to one light level at a time.  Whereas moonlight is less than one foot-candle and a sunny beach can be over 20,000 foot-candles, abrupt changes in the degree of illumination should be avoided!

For more information about LED lighting, landscape lighting, outdoor path lighting and patio lighting or to find the best fixtures for lighting your landscape, contact a certified lighting consultant.