Landscapes of almost any size and shape can be illuminated effectively with low-voltage landscape lighting. This article is meant to show you how easy it is to buy and install this custom, yet cost-effective, outdoor lighting solution. With a little creativity and some gardening tools, your yard could be looking good day AND night!
Benefits of Landscape Lighting
We all want to feel secure at home, and landscape lighting provides it in two very important ways.
- The darkness itself could make your home a target for an intruder, and well-lit front and back yards provide greater visual capabilities. An intruder would most likely skip it and move onto a dark home where they are not so visible.
- Lighting helps visitors reach your home safely. Many pathways have uneven pavers or troublesome transition spots from driveway to sidewalk, and provide many opportunities for tripping. Landscape lighting can illuminate problematic areas and protect against potential liability.
Increase the value of your home
Landscape lighting adds instant curb appeal and beautifies your landscape. You can create dramatic, professional-looking effects through shadows and silhouettes with low-lying bushes, or bounce the light off majestic trees.
Easily and safely installed
Low-voltage landscape lighting does not require an electrician or inspection, and, unlike some other electrical work, is safe to install. If you have passion, plants and a plan (and don’t forget a shovel), this is a rewarding and attainable do-it-yourself project.
The flexibility factor
It’s inevitable. Your yard will almost certainly change its look over the years due to décors and trends, as well as growing plants that block light or that BBQ station or hot tub you have your eye on. As your landscape changes, so can your landscape lighting. Whether you decide to expand your yard’s lighting or cut back for a minimalist look, landscape lighting can be easily adjusted to fit your needs.
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Themes and Lighting Techniques
Landscape lighting themes vary wildly, thanks to numerous manufacturers providing dozens of products. Modern re-interpretations of traditional lantern lights are extremely popular today, while rustic-themed lights lend a natural touch. Classic lighting paves the way with elegance and refinement.
Path Lights greet your guests with style, create just the right first impression and generate a sense of security and protection on pathways and around your home.
Deck and Rail Lights are perfect for a porch or patio.Other options for landscape lighting include Accent Lights and Flood Lights that can mount into the ground or on a wall surface or tree.
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Designing Your Layout
Now that you’ve decided to install landscape lighting, it’s time to design your layout. With careful planning, you can eliminate any problems that may arise during the installation process.
Step 1: What do you want to light?
Take a look at your yard at night to decide where more light is needed, then make a detailed sketch of the yard. In deciding what to illuminate, consider your existing Outdoor Lighting. A good place to start is your walkways and other functional and transitional areas.
Step 2: What other extras do you want from lighting?
For example, while you’re lighting the façade of a house, you very well may illuminate bushes or trees, as well.
Step 3: Consider other professional-looking techniques
There are many professional-looking and popular techniques that can create a dramatic and attractive design. Lighting the front of the house has a very dramatic effect and can make your house inviting at night, except to unwanted guests.
A front lawn is an ideal and easy subject for illumination.
Trees and plants can be back-lit to create a silhouetted effect or front-lit to showcase the plant itself. If you have a tall tree, place a light at the base and shine it up through the branches. You can also hide a tree mount fixture and have it shine down on a lawn or garden.
You may consider lighting other objects of interest like a birdbath or bench. It’s generally a good idea to spread your lighting out to create even illumination throughout the yard.
A word of caution: Be careful not to over-light your landscape, since too much light might prove unattractive. The secret is to be creative and light only what you want.
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Choosing Your Lights
There are many types of landscape lighting fixtures to put the light right where you need it. Lighting Direct carries a variety of different style of each light type, for every area or task you can think of.
For walkways and driveways:
Path lights, such as pole lights and hanging path lights
Silhouetting, spot lighting, grazing of textured surfaces:
Spot lights, Flood lights, tree or wall-mounted lights
Up-lighting through trees out of a well or pond:
Pond light, submersible underwater light
Lights for a covered patio or gazebo:
Hanging light, hanging planter light
Functional light for decks and patios:
Rail mount, column mount, step lights
Miscellaneous lights for specific functions:
Barbecue light, sculpture lights, birdbaths
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Choosing Your Transformer
Now that you’ve chosen your lights, it’s time to figure out where to put them and how to power them. That’s where a transformer, a bit of math and a touch of creativity come into play.
Step 1: Add the total wattage of all fixtures
The transformer must be equal to or higher than the total watts. If you think you may add fixtures to your system in the future, a higher wattage transformer is recommended. Transformers come in a wide variety of wattages from 60-1200 watts.
Step 2: Decide where you want to install the transformer
Be sure to install the transformer near a power source or outlet, and as close to your lights as possible to minimize cable runs.
Step 3: The transformer itself
Transformers vary in style and quality. It’s up to you to choose which one is right for your lighting plan and yard.
An optional photocell for dusk-till-dawn operation and timer are excellent choices, both as an energy-saving measure and as a security precaution if you should leave town.
Most transformers are installed on an outside wall and can be either hardwired or plugged into an outlet.
Numerous models can be buried in the ground for an out-of-sight application, like the very popular in-ground transformer from Kichler (K15IG300).
Congratulations, you’re well on your way to completing your landscape lighting project. Your landscape is your pride and joy. Give it the look it deserves with the proper landscape lighting.
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