You have a substantial investment in your landscape. It shouldn’t be abandoned every night when the sun disappears over the horizon. But that’s exactly what happens to many landscapes. You can change all that with garden lighting. The mission of garden, or landscape, lighting should be twofold – for safety and enjoyment.
Nothing beats a summer evening outdoors, unless lighting is inadequate or nonexistent. Garden lighting should be part of every design so you can enjoy grilling and dinner on the patio. It also allows you to garden even after the sun, and temperature, goes down. You’ll want a variety of lights on the patio to illuminate your various activities in that outdoor room. This may be a series of strategically placed floods attached to the house and hardwired to switches. Or they may be lower intensity lamps placed where needed. For example, you’ll need to light the grill or outdoor kitchen, the dining area and the sitting areas where you relax and read or even watch television.
It’s not a good idea to just start hanging lights and hope they do what they’re supposed to. It’ll save time and money to try various portable lights in different positions, to be sure they can be aimed correctly, than to go right to the permanent installation. Be sure all outlets are GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) units. These have built-in circuit breakers that will shut them off, rather than shocking you, if they get wet.
You may also want motion detector activated lights in key locations in your landscape. Spot or floodlights may be needed for security or to light the area when you want to work out there in the evening. Some lights may be located in trees and angled down to the area you want lit.
Poorly lit garden paths are dangerous. It’s so easy to misstep on a poorly lit path. If your garden paths are lined with solar powered stake lights, consider replacing them with low voltage stake lights. They’re brighter. They can be controlled, and they turn on even when the sun wasn’t out that day. Low voltage lights are connected by wires to a transformer box plugged into an outlet rated for outdoor use. You can buy boxes with on/off timers that will allow you to control what time they turn on and off, rather keeping them on from dusk to dawn.
If you have a water feature, consider lighting it, especially if it’s a pond. A pond should be lighted for safety, but it can also be lit for effect with LED lights that change color and reflect off the water. Fountains aren’t as hazardous as ponds so safety is less of a concern but picture the view of lights playing off the rising and cascading plumes of water.
Actually, I place lighting installation in the same category as tree work. For your health and safety, it’s best left to the pros. You can locate where you need lights and then hire a licensed electrician to install them. Or you can work with our landscape professionals to design and install all the outdoor lighting where in will be the most beneficial…and beautiful.
Do you remember Malibu Lighting? It was all the rage as late as the 1980s. Gads! I can not believe that some of us thought it was cool to put colored lenses on the gardening lighting. I really dislike garden lighting because it is so unnatural. No one should be in my garden at night anyway. However, my colleague down south is a landscape designer who designs gardens as usable spaces for entertaining and outdoor living, even at night.