No longer limited to the typical wall fixtures and light posts, outdoor lighting now has a myriad of possibilities with the use landscape lighting. Low voltage systems have added flexible design options for special effects, accents, and safety.
Landscape lighting can be used to effectively produce specific design results. It is very valuable for highlighting architectural features, trim details, and up lighting walls and columns. Light fixtures may also be strategically installed to provide safety for walks, level changes, and stairs. Lighting creates visual movement in the landscape through techniques such as down lighting a tree trunk, grazing the surface of shrubs, accentuating the texture of a stone or pebble surface, creating interesting shadows, or bringing statuary to life. Subtle moon lighting can create tranquil settings for evening retreats. Lights may also be installed in or near water features, extending the hours of their enjoyment. Our pond has built-in lighting, and our fish seem to recognize our nighttime presence and put on quite an entertaining show at feeding time.
Especially during long hours of darkness during the winter months, exterior lighting takes on a whole new meaning and is particularly appreciated. Strategically placed fixtures call attention the beauty of unusual features in the winter garden such as exfoliating bark, bright red berries, or the interesting structure of a bare tree.
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The design of an outdoor lighting installation can be simple or quite complex depending on the types of effects that are desired and the number of fixtures needed. A simple system could be a DIY project. Start by evaluating you existing lighting and address any specific concerns or needs such as lighting a path, driveway entrance, or accentuating specific features. Choose landscape plants or trees for highlighting. Sketching a plan of the system is helpful to determine the number of lights required and the layout for installation of the cabling.
The power supply or transformer for low voltage lighting reduces standard household power from 120 volts to 12 volts. Because of the reduced power, the cabling is safe to handle and does not have to be installed as deeply in the ground as would standard power lines. This simplifies installation, although it is important to bury the cable deep enough so that ordinary maintenance such as aerating the lawn will not damage the cable.
If DIY is not on your radar, hiring a professional does have it’s advantages. Many companies will do a night-time mock-up of the installation so that the effect can be visualized and adjustments made prior to the actual installation. Either way, the beauty and value of your home and landscape gets a real boost with the well-designed exterior lighting!