Once you have your landscaping done, you feel such pride at how beautiful your home and yard looks that you want to shine a spotlight on it and let everyone see, day or night, how gorgeous it looks. Easily done during the day but at night, you need to generate some light.
Now unless you need to significantly light up an area, say if you are having a party, low voltage landscape lighting will be sufficient. Otherwise you’d install floodlights and stronger sources to shine on specific areas like the garage, the driveway or the barbecue area. Low voltage landscape lighting is cheap to run and there are so many options that you may find it harder to decide on the lighting than you found designing the yard in the first place.
In general, low voltage landscape lighting is used to aesthetic effect, and it’s a good idea to incorporate the lighting plan into your landscape design while the digging, planting and building are in process. But you can buy items such as solar energy lights that simply stand up in garden beds or along paths and require no wiring, no cable and no switch. The solar energy is absorbed during the day, it in turn is stored in the onboard battery and used to emit light at night.
There are certain points in modern gardens that are commonly lit with low voltage landscape lighting. For a contemporary look, you can use different colors, position the lights so that they highlight your favorite garden elements, highlight a water feature, send a color wash up a beautiful tree, enhance the appearance of your driveway or anything else that fires your imagination.
Here are some bright ideas for using low voltage landscape lighting:
Use blue lights near a swimming pool or water feature to really bring out the effect of the water.
Install step lights on stairways, patio areas and paths for added security and safety.
Accent lights create interest at night and are perfect for drawing the eye to sculptures, statues or special trees. They are mounted on a hinge system so that the lighting direction can be altered as required.
Create your own Spielberg-like special effects with low voltage landscape lighting underwater. An ordinary fishpond presents a safety hazard in a dark yard, but it comes to life when beautifully lit from beneath the surface.
Use floating pond lights for a novel and pretty effect.
Low voltage landscape lighting can be used dramatically on decks and patios. There are endless designs and shapes from ultra-modern metals to natural woods. Install on poles and in the floor and roof.
While aesthetics play an important part in your selection of low voltage landscape lighting, you also need to consider the safety aspects. The use of low voltage is recommended for outdoors to avoid electrocution hazards from accidents with garden tools and exposure to water.
Fortunately, the very low running costs make it a dream addition to your garden and you can be tempted to go overboard and light up your yard like something out of a Chevy Chase Christmas movie! Avoid the urge and keep it simple, effective and easy to maintain.
Sometimes less truly is more and if you create a star attraction in the yard, make a focal point of it with lighting and then add lesser lighting elsewhere, you will show off the most important visual aspects, and still enjoy the overall picture.
As you try to determine where you would like to place the lighting that you are considering, a few factors need to be taken into account.
First, where is your power source? If you don’t have a power source nearby then you need to work some exterior electrical into your plan. As you sit in front of a diagram of your property, look to find out where the best place to run this power from would be. When you are ready to purchase the low voltage lighting then, you must also get the necessary supplies to run the power to them.
Second, you need to determine what you are trying to accomplish with the placement of low voltage lighting . Are you trying to light up a walkway, or are you just trying to accent a landscaping feature like a fountain or a garden? The answers to this question will help you determine how many and what style of low voltage lighting you need.
Once you have determined how many and what style you want, then you are ready to determine the placement of your low voltage lighting. If you are trying to light up a walkway, then make sure that the lights are places appropriately for safety.
Lights that are too far apart can leave portions of the walkway in shadow, which will be a stark contrast to the portions that are well lit. You don’t want to create a trip hazard on your property just because you didn’t place the lights close enough together.
If you are using the low voltage lighting as an accent, then make sure that the lights are placed in a way that illuminates the area evenly. If the lighting is uneven, then the eye is drawn only towards the light, and the aesthetic look that you may be trying to create will be uneven and awkward.
The incorrect placement of low voltage lighting is one of the most common landscaping mistakes. With a little research though, and little planning it is a mistake that can be avoided.
Take the time to imagine your space before you begin. It is worth the time that it takes to draw a plan. Don’t skip any details, as even the smallest bush can cast a huge shadow if the low voltage lighting in not placed correctly.
photo by Richard Riley -CreativeCommons