BASIC TECHNIQUES OF LANDSCAPE LIGHTING

A great landscape lighting design help your clients wow their friends and neighbors. Using a variety of techniques brings the home into an all new light.

The Color of the Light Sets the Tone and Mood

Did you know that not all white light is created equal? Many of our integrated LED fixtures and LED drop-in lamps come in a variety of color temperatures – from warm white to pure white to cool white – that can enhance the colors in your home’s exterior and landscape. Known as Kelvin (K) temperature, consider these suggestions for placement:

  • Choose warm white (2700K) for: Surroundings with warmer colors, like brown or cedar  | Natural-colored walls or stonework  |  Foliage with red, orange or yellow tones (ex: highlighting oak trees)
  • Choose pure white (3000K) for:  Surroundings with dark materials, like deep slate, black or gray  |   Foliage with blue or purple tones (ex: highlighting blue spruce trees)
  • Choose cool white (4000K) for: Contemporary homes and structures  |  Commercial applications  |   For a 120V – 277V system, you’ll need a licensed installer
  • Choose bright white (5000K) for:  Illuminating evergreen trees and shrubs  |   Commercial applications   |   For a 120V – 277V system, you’ll need a licensed installer

Beam Spread

Beam spread is all about width. How wide are the trees, plants or other focal points you’d like to illuminate? A tall, thin tree requires a narrower beam spread. Don’t think about beam spread without considering LED lighting. It offers a sharper, more precise beam edge and keeps the light focused where you want it.

Based on the width and height of what you’re lighting, do this:

  • Use a 10 or 15 degree beam for tall, thin structures or foliage like grazing trees or porch columns
  • 25 – 45 degrees for medium height and width, such as a prized tree. This beam spread is also ideal for general accent lighting.
  • 55 – 60 degrees for short, wide items like broad trees or shorter, wider structures
  • 120 degrees is ideal for wall washing and grazing wide objects

Up Lighting

Is one of the most common styles of light seen today. Why? Because it’s simple to install and it is effective in showcasing your landscape.

  • Use 350 beam fixtures
  • Have the fixture 12”-18” away from the base of the object being lit.
  • There should as few hot spots, (bright areas), on the object as possible
  • The source of the light should not be visible. Fixtures have shrouds so you cannot see the source of the light unless you directly look at it.

Path Lighting

Path lighting is a technique that can be often overused. Wherever possible an alternative lighting method might be better. A path light will normally only illuminate a small area on the ground. Whereas an accent, which can cost less, can light a 40’ tree.

The natural indication is that a path light is needed to light a path. However, if another feature such as a tree, house, fence, or anything decorative can be lit there is often enough reflective light to not require the path light. Additionally, path lights require more service as they get damaged more easily.

  • There is not a correct amount of path light. There is no correct distance between path lights. Less is better than more.
  • Light source should not be visible.

Shadowing

Shadowing is where you add the drama. Where there is something of height behind the object or it can add height to a smaller object by having the shadow larger than the object. Both are amazing effects and you can be very creative.

  • Use 600 beam for this effect
  • Use a lower wattage fixture for softness
  • Use when the object has interesting shapes.

Silhouette

Silhouetting is when you start to show you are a pro! The silhouette lines are sharp and crisp shadow lines in contrast to the shadowing effect which has soft lines. It works well with sharp shapes like open fences, ornamental trees, privacy screens, lattices, and many others.

  • Use 350 or 600 beams
  • Fixture can be aimed at object to be silhouetted or on to something behind it.

Gazing

Now you are showing your talent! It creates dramatic effects on textures. It is often used on buildings and other rough surfaces. By having the light close to the surface and aimed across it, you will have a light spots and shadows creating the look of a rougher surface. This can transform the lit area into a completely different look surface.

  • Utilize this technique to add depth and dimension to stucco, brick, stonework or architectural features of a home or building.
  • Beam are 100 or 350
  • Fixtures used are hardscape, deck, accent, and down lights. All can be used to create the grazing effect

Spot Lighting

Spot Lighting is getting attention! Intentional focusing of ones’ attention to a specific feature. Often you will use a brighter light. It can be used to direct flow of vision and or attention. Using a spot light on an entry door is a great example as it showcases your clients entry and creates dramatic curb appeal.

  • 100 to 350 beam used

Decks

Deck is a growing trend in outdoor living. Placing fixtures around the deck can create a warm inviting space, however, fixtures should be place carefully.

Do not use fixtures which shine in your eyes. Fixtures should be place to cast a soft light on the deck area for maximum effect. The deck lighting should not take the focus away from the landscape lighting. Less fixtures are better in deck lighting.

Fixture should be mount so light source cannot be seen when sitting in chair

Stairs

This is a must in landscape lighting plan. Stairs are an area where adding lights can improve safety as well as increase beauty. Light from the sides versus putting light on the stair rise. Try not to have lights which will shine in your eyes.

Wall Wash

Wall wash fixtures direct the eyes to the texture, shapes, and or height difference or items in beads adding depth and ambiance. This technique delivers a subtle, low amount of light to a wide area, up close to the structure, with minimal hot-spots and density.

  • Should be close to objects being lit
  • Watch for wash out or lighting to many objects

In Ground

Inground fixtures delivers light to areas where an above ground fixture could be a hazard, such as lawns, walkways, and paths.

Underwater

Enhance and highlight flowing water in waterfalls, streams and fountains, creating a magical mirroring effect on still waters.