Outdoor Lighting Tips
The holidays are over and spring will be here before we know it! That means it’s time to ask yourself how to maximize your outdoor lighting. Landscape lighting can incorporate a number of strategies in order to achieve the most dramatic and exciting effects. A professionally designed landscape lighting system – or even just one that incorporates the following “pro” tips – can help you show off your landscaping!
First, when it comes to outdoor lighting, don’t overdo it. This is not only for the sake of your neighbors and electric bill, but because the different ways in which the human eye processes light in the darkness means that less light is more effective. Second, it is important to understand the aesthetics of light: it has features such as intensity and color as well. Look at a light bulb’s package to determine its color, which ranges rom 1800 Kelvins (a very deep red) to 7500 Kelvins, a soft bluish white.
Next, it is important to consider the purpose of the lighting. Is it to provide overall, general illumination for a specific area? Is it to help with tasks, such as lighting patios or walkways? Is it to accent objects or areas, such as statues, gardens and trees? Different lights and bulbs can be used for each of these. Further, different lighting techniques can be employed for specific types of accent lighting.
Highlighting is the most common, and it is achieved by simply placing a spotlight at the bottom of an outdoor feature. Silhouetting is achieved by putting a spotlight behind a feature and aiming the light towards a wall adjacent to the object. This strategy is best for dense plants.
Shadowing is similar, but results in a softer shadow effect, making this choice better for objects like trees with open or less dense foliage. Meanwhile, wall-washing uses sideways angles to wash vertical walls in light when used with a wide angle flood light and low wattage. Up-lighting is a similar effect to wall-washing, but achieves greater contrast and boldness by putting spotlight fixtures up close to a building.
Moonlighting is a technique wherein one puts a large light fixture with full glare guards high up, such as in trees, eaves, or gates, and angles the light downwards. The effect is natural-seeming and muted and allows a shadowscape to emerge. Down-lighting is similar, but involves less subtlety and more wattage. Don’t be afraid to experiment and play around for the best lighting look for your landscape!
All of these major types of lighting can be fun to experiment with, but for the highest quality for lighting safety, wiring, and aesthetics, it is best to consult a professional.
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