Outdoor Lighting Ideas – 9 Useful Tips to Get You Started on the Right Foot
Stuck on coming up with just the right outdoor lighting ideas that will transform your yard into a warm, relaxing and captivating environment?
With just a bit of creativity, imagination and some well-placed outdoor lights, you can easily transform an otherwise drab and dark lawn, patio, deck or garden into a warmly lit gathering place for quiet evenings alone as well as nights of entertaining friends and family.
While safety and security is still the number one reason most homeowners install a landscape lighting system, increasingly more homeowners are demanding a system that is also visually appealing and practical for all sorts of outdoor activities.
Planning a Good Outdoor Lighting System
When brainstorming for ideas on which type of lighting fixtures to choose and how best to implement them, it’s important to seriously consider your particular lifestyle and how you plan to use your yard, deck, patio, pool area and/or garden.
Nowadays, Low-voltage technology is used in the majority of residential exterior lighting systems. Transformers are used to reduce the home’s voltage from a standard of 120 volts down to 12 volts – which is a much safer, no-shock level.
These transformers are typically plugged into an outlet on the outside of the home and a plastic-coated copper wire is imbedded into the ground. At any point, individual light fixtures can be clipped, which enables many flexible design options.
For safety, fiber optic technology is used, which means that no electricity is directly passed to individual fixtures. This type of technology is particularly useful for pools, ponds and water gardens. In these instances, a projector box and bulbs are utilized, while thin plastic fiber-optic cables connect each of the individual light fixtures.
With the use of the above-mentioned technologies (as well as the myriad of outside lighting products available) it is now very easy to create any number of creative lighting zones.
Control banks enable different areas of the yard to be lit independently of each other. For example, you may want to cast a brighter light on a particular architectural object or tree than the the light that shines on rest of the yard or garden. Or you may want a light to shine brighter over the grill on the deck or outdoor kitchen, while maintaining softer outdoor patio lighting for other gathering areas.
Transformers and a wide selection of bulbs are what now make possible different lighting zones – or variations in outdoor illumination.
To achieve any effect you are looking for, there really are only 4 main types of outdoor lighting to employ. These include:
(a) Moonlighting – This type of lighting employs a mix of both uplighting and downlighting. By mounting fixtures at various heights in trees, a natural light is evoked – reminiscent of natural moonlight.
(b) Zone Lighting – This outdoor lighting idea is one in which individual objects, plants or trees or highlighted.
(c) Uplighting – The aim of this landscape lighting idea is to create a sense of drama by aiming light fixtures upward, which accentuates the object being lit.
(d) Downlighting – This type of outside lighting is used mainly as a security measure to illuminate pathways and general area lighting.
With that said, here are seven useful outdoor lighting tips that should help you decide which outside lighting ideas will best serve your purposes:
(1) Have a firm idea in mind of what you actually want. The Internet is great place to begin your research. With so many illumination ranges and light fixture styles available today, it’s best to narrow these choices down before you do any shopping or consult with a professional.
(2) Aim for light fixtures that are unobtrusive and have a natural appearance. In other words, shoot for fixtures that display a refined styling (e.g. soft bronzes).
(3) Do your best to conceal light fixtures during the day. Plants and rocks are particularly useful in this regard.
(4) To make lighting flexible and adjustable, wrap coils of wire around individual light fixtures.
(5) As a general rule of thumb, space outdoor path lights five to eight feet apart.
(6) Locate a focal point (statue, tree, or path) to highlight.
(7) Protect animals from chewing on wires by burying the wires into the ground.
(8) Make sure the lighting is balanced throughout the yard. You want to make certain both the left and right sides of the house and yard are lit to achieve optimum lighting balance.
(9) If you wish to place a lighting fixture where no planting bed exists, create one specifically designed with the light fixtures in mind.
If all of the suggestions still overwhelm you, you may want to consider bringing in a professional to bring your outdoor lighting ideas to life. It certainly is a much better idea than going it alone if you really don’t have an eye for this kind of thing or the mechanical inclination. And it certainly beats being lazy by simply attaching a few outdoor flood lights to the corners of your home!
By bringing in a professional, you will know the job is done safely and properly. A small price to pay for years of enjoyment down the road!