A well-kept home and garden look great during the day, but when night falls, all your hard work on curb appeal can literally disappear in the dark. Enter outdoor lighting. A simple, well-designed outdoor lighting system can add a great deal of beauty and depth to your landscaping and home. Read on to find the best landscape lighting techniques for your lawn…
Landscape Lighting Techniques
Unfortunately, illuminating your home’s exterior is not as easy as turning on your porch light. The complexity of trees, bushes, pathways, columns, facades, and more are best accented with a well-designed system of small lights. Today’s low voltage systems accomplish this simply and economically. We’ll help you learn the basics of landscape lighting techniques and styles to make your yard a luminary on your block. Follow a few simple rules and it’s hard to go wrong with your outdoor landscape lighting.
Outdoor Lighting Tips:
- The idea is to add depth and interest. If you illuminate everything equally, there won’t be any emphasis on favorite features and no shape to the space. The interplay between light and shadow is what creates the most interesting lighting design.
- Overlighting is an easy mistake to make. Remember, the background here is the near-black of night. Even low wattage lamps can produce plenty of brightness in this environment. Choose lamps that are too bright and it’ll look more like a football field than a lawn.
- The same object can be lit in several ways, each creating a distinct look. Experiment with directionality. Lighting an object from the side, from the bottom, from the top, or from the side will produce different shadows and an overall different effect. Spot fixtures with halogen directional lamps are your best tools for this.
Let’s illustrate the most common outdoor lighting effects and how to achieve them:
Uplighting is extremely popular in outdoor lighting projects. Here, the light source is installed at ground level and the beam aimed upward against the object (a tree trunk, foliage, wall, shrubs, etc.). Change the resulting visual effect by varying the distance and lighting angle with respect to the object.
Create this look with Outdoor Well Lights.
If your landscaping includes a water feature, be sure to take advantage. The calm surface of water acts like a mirror, so you can achieve beautiful lighting effects simply by lighting an object right at water’s edge. Depending on the object, you might use Direct Accent Lighting, Uplighting, or another technique.
Create this look with Outdoor Spotlights.
Moonlighting is soft directional lighting from above. Install an accent lighting source high up in a tree and allow the light beam to trickle through the branches toward the ground. The branches and foliage are immersed in a luminous glow and their shadows make a mosaic of patterns on the ground.
Create this look with Outdoor Garden Lights.
The silhouette lighting technique captures the outline of an object by focusing light on the backside while the front remains in the dark. If your object is close to a wall, you can achieve this effect by uplighting the wall. If it’s not, light the backside only – the luminous effect is beautiful and a bit mystical, as light appears to emanate from the outer edges of the object.
Create this look with Outdoor Accent Lighting.
Shadowing a tree creates two distinct lighting effects. It brightens the object with a direct beam of light and intentionally allows the object to project a sharp shadow against a backdrop (usually a fence or a wall). It’s a good way to add visual interest to a large, plain wall, and the possibilities are endless – just change the position of the light source slightly and watch the shadow morph.
Create this look with Outdoor Flood Lights.
Outdoor spaces are rich with visually interesting textures, which are easy to bring out with proper lighting. The angle at which these textures are lighted has all to do with how they appear to the viewer. When the beam of a directional light source is aimed at a sharp angle against a deeply textured surface, contrasts are maximized and the richness of the texture is enhanced.
Create this look with Outdoor Spotlights.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of techniques to produce specific, beautiful effects in your outdoor landscaping. Experiment with these the way an artist might dabble on a palette. You’ll discover abundant and creative ways to aesthetically enhance your outdoor living space.
Outdoor Lighting Terms
As you plan your layout and shop for outdoor lights, you’ll want to know the lingo. Here are a few common home and garden lighting terms to help you along the way:
Shop a wide variety of Outdoor Accent Lighting products to light up your lawn.
- Direct Accent Lighting: Aim a beam of light directly toward your focal object. This technique is ideal for the main focus of your landscaping, like a statue or arbor. Plan on having one or two objects at most lit this way – too many focal points will be distracting. Lighting fixtures using PAR and MR halogen reflector lamps are the most common choice for direct accent lighting.
- Broad Lighting: To complement accent lighting, most landscaping arrangements also include lighting that blanket the ground or a vertical surface with soft, even illumination. Area lighting and flood lighting fixtures are perfectly suited for this, as they provide wide vertical or horizontal beam spreads.
- Area Lighting: Rock gardens, flowerbeds, and low-level shrubs require soft, widespread illumination directed downward. Good garden downlights feature painted white interior surfaces for maximum efficiency and concealed lamps to focus attention on the area and objects illuminated.
- Flood Lighting: Large vertical surfaces or groups of small objects will require floodlights designed to evenly spread lots of light. This way the entire illuminated space draws attention rather than a single isolated object. Floodlights are also very useful when we need to accent an object, say a bush, at close range.
With nature as your canvas, outdoor lighting can be an enjoyable and creative experience. We’re here to help with all the tips and products you need to make your home’s exterior a well-lit showpiece. While you’re at it, don’t forget garden pathways, decks, and your side yard. Shop our selection of deck lighting, pathway lights, and post & bollard lights to complete your home’s outdoor lighting design.