tanning beds next to lit up trees

Outdoor lighting is not just for parks or public buildings, but also a great choice for highlighting the beauty of a home landscape. There are a few key principles to use when designing any kind of outdoor lighting solution so that it blends in with your landscaping efforts. Show off your mature trees, flowering shrubs, and much more with an arrangement of outdoor lights that work together for a comprehensive illumination effect.

Don’t Overdo the Lights

When it comes to garden lighting, less is more. Too much outdoor lighting will wash out the color of your plants and create a flat look that isn’t so flattering to your efforts. Your garden lighting design should create a “hierarchy of lighting” that includes bright highlights for limited areas and dimmer, more diffused lighting for the rest of the landscape. A hierarchy of light will ensure that the important parts of your garden are being highlighted, giving the eyes a specific place to land without a flat or overwhelming appearance. This method adds depth to your garden with shadows. Too much light, especially bright or white light, can create a cheap feel to the design. You don’t want to reach the point where your plants become overwhelmed by the light instead of being highlighted in their natural beauty. Pick just a few highlights to focus on and let the rest speak for itself.

Add Layers of Light

Layering the light you add to your landscape is the key to a balanced, beautiful appearance of your home.

Using Downlights

landscape lighting lights up a huge tree

Downlights on patios can help create ambiance while lighting up darker areas that are needed for safety. As the name suggests, these lights angle downward from a higher mounting point, such as on a wall or post. Patios are usually where most families spend their time outside after dark, so it is important to ensure that it is well-lit for both safety and enjoyment. Downlights can also be used to highlight plants that are on the edges of your garden or in rambling beds, drawing attention to their beauty and giving your guests a new appreciation for your home’s landscaping. They’re best for highlighting low-growing features or hardscapes like paths.

Uplights on Hedges and Trees

Uplights point upwards, helping highlight the beauty of a tree’s intricate bark or catching the beauty of the underside of your hedge’s foliage. These kinds of lights are dramatic and attractive, giving your home the look of a fabulous park or museum grounds. They also create beautiful shadows that help break up the darkness across your yard and add depth to the appearance of these plants. Too much uplighting can be distracting or disorientating, that’s why it should be a part of a larger design, layered in with proper downlighting.

Create Focal Points

The focal points of your lighting should be the most dramatic parts of your garden that capture your guests’ attention. Just a few well-lit focal points can help make a small yard look bigger. Potential focus points could be large mature trees, water features, or even sculptures. Using uplights on trees can capture them in a glowing light, drawing the eye of anyone visiting and showing the detail in the leaves, trunk, and branches. Spotlights on statues can help capture them while throwing a shadow behind them, to make them stand out and add depth and drama. Using floating or sunken water lights for fountains boosts the beauty of the running water or even shows off the intricate details of the material used to make the fountain.

Use Pathlights For Safety

All of your paths should be well-lit to ensure that guests can see where they are going. Without lighting, there’s nothing to reveal changes in elevation, show obstacles that may be on the path, or define flower bed edges. The main types of path lights include:

  • Step lights – Used on stairs or walls next to stairs to show changes in elevation and helps prevent trip and fall accidents.
  • Garden lights – Designed for showing off beautiful plants while also lighting up the pathways, great for marking areas where guests should not walk like flower beds
  • Bollard Lights – Illuminate in every direction and can be used on pathways near the beginning and the end to give everyone an idea of where they are supposed to go

Make Sure to Leave Some Dark Areas

pathway to front door of a home

As mentioned earlier, adding too much light can wash out the natural beauty of your plants and make them appear dull and two-dimensional. There’s more value in spotlights here and there rather than a set of floodlights that give everything a stark or faded appearance. Having dark spaces between the focal points of the design helps create depth, drama, and intrigue for your garden. It also helps cause less disruption for any wildlife that may live around the areas and helps reduce light pollution. As long as you have plenty of lighting around the exterior doors of the home, you don’t need extensive landscape lighting just to maintain home security.

Don’t Forget to Upgrade to LED

LED lights are safer around plants and other landscape features as they do not create heat. They also help decrease your energy bills and carbon footprint, making them better for the environment. LEDs last a lot longer than other types of outdoor lighting bulbs. On average, most LED bulbs will not have to be changed for 4-6 years, while other types of lights often need annual replacement. LED bulbs are particularly important in the fall and winter when dried leaves can pose a fire hazard around other types of outdoor lighting.

Need Help Creating the Perfect Garden Lighting Design?

We here at Enhanced Outdoor Lighting & Design can design a custom lighting solution that highlights natural beauty in all seasons while increasing security around your property. Contact us today to start the process of lighting up your garden.

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