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How To Get Outdoor Lighting Right In Any Landscape

DIY or Do-It-Yourself is a concept whose origins go way back before HGTV or Etsy. Professional help was hard to come by, so we recruited skilled friends and neighbors, and often bartered our expertise in exchange. 

Nowadays, small home improvement projects, such as painting a bedroom or adding storage shelves to the garage, are ways for creative and handy homeowners to take greater pride in their homes.

Landscape lighting is traditionally considered an add-on service, but recent landscape lighting trends suggest it has evolved into something far more complex. Even the most basic landscape lighting systems require experience to simultaneously balance the power load, light quality, and desired coverage.

Getting just one of those factors wrong may require restarting the entire process. Sadly, this often occurs months later when the weather changes from summer to winter. Yes, weather conditions affect the performance of these systems too. And we all know Minnesota winters can be among the fiercest. 

Let’s avoid these costly DIY mistakes to maximize your landscape lighting’s potential.  

Read on to learn more about how professionals can adeptly plan, organize, and design outdoor lighting that works for challenging sites and even the most discerning property owners. 

You may still want to be hands on with your project, but you’ll also know when to seek out collaborative partners.  

The Planning Stage

Whether you are about to start a renovation project or have decided to add lighting in the middle of one, you will want a qualified opinion on the best path forward. And all paths should be paved with bricks of forethought.

It is vital to plan out your lighting ahead of time as you only get one chance for special effects, especially as they relate to your hardscape features. Hardscapes are either flat surfaces (i.e., patios, decks, walkways, or driveways) or raised surfaces (i.e., retaining walls or stairs) and each type comes with its spotlighting potential, dependent upon an assortment of lighting types and accessories. 

For instance, professionals know that downlighting, with low-voltage lights, placed near-flat paths, offers the best lighting for flat-surface hardscapes; it enhances safety and security during the nighttime hours. Similarly, the beautiful stonework on your retaining wall, the one that terraces a delicately sloping hillside, should be showcased with uplighting. The soft light emanating from below the wall will surely catch the eye of your guests. Qualified professionals know how to make the right lighting calls depending on your hardscape features.

Additionally, they know the proper planning methods for other areas, like wiring and ongoing maintenance. For instance, PVC sleeves are typically used for lighting wiring because they avoid disruptions of root systems and foundations. Since PVC is a durable material, impervious to corrosion or weathering, it is a typical go-to for outdoor lighting projects. That’s not to say that lights don’t eventually lean or fill with debris. All lighting systems require maintenance and professionals know how to plan out these systems in such a way that necessary maintenance down the road is easy to accomplish.

From flat surfaces to raised surfaces, wiring to maintenance, the planning stage of a lighting project is crucial and should be conducted by experts in the field.

The Organization Stage

Your custom-built deck is one of your favorite features on your property. But something is missing; it’s time to add some additional elements to your deck arena to spruce up that entertainment space.

For instance, how about an upgrade in your railing or colonial balusters or an addition of a raised or fixed flower bed near your deck? You could always consider accessorizing your deck with a fire table or custom outdoor furniture. 

Professionals know how to organize these objects and elements in such a way so that they enhance that space tenfold. For instance, low-voltage LED lighting, with dimming capabilities, is a great fit for subtly showcasing elements like fire tables or furniture. You may want to capitalize on your mature trees near your deck and moonlight your new railing or flower beds, the soft glow of which will subtly emphasize these new features. 

Additionally, experts know how to balance lighting from every perspective, regardless if you are stepping back or leaning in or viewing from the left or the right. The point is that lighting themes should complement each other, eliciting a “harmonious relationship” between regions on your property, like between your deck and your yard.

The organization of lighting around certain elements of your landscape is best left to the professionals as they have an in-depth understanding of the lighting types, lighting positions, and lighting balance needed to maximize the functionality and beauty of your landscape.

The Design Stage

The final phase where professionals can offer valuable insight is in the design phase. Because each property is different, stock landscaping packages often fail homeowners. Crafting a customized design plan, complete with a “footprint” of your house and any prominent landscape elements, is a better way to draft a potential lighting system. 

An important feature of this process is designing flexible systems that isolate portions that may not be desired or necessary. For instance, you can elect to use a system that enables you to manually program different light zones, so that they turn on and off at different times of the day. Hiring professionals to design such systems ensures that your programmable lighting scheme has sufficient and balanced power consistently.

This functionality allows homeowners to prioritize lighting outcomes for specific purposes or planned events. If the purpose of your lighting system is safety or curb appeal, you may choose a backlighting design aesthetic, the illumination of which would deter would-be prowlers and impress passersby. And it’s easy to achieve this effect when your lighting system is programmable. 

Similarly, if the purpose of your lighting system is to create an intimate entertainment space for family and friends, then you may want to design a different lighting system. From task lighting to area lighting, wayfinding to accent lighting, the lighting options are many when it comes to making sure your guests are enjoying an evening at your home. And with a push of a button, you can guarantee that they are. 

Because landscape lighting design options are as vast as they are varied, it’s important to enlist the help of an expert, a skilled teammate who shares your landscape lighting vision and has the aptitude to make it a reality.

Architectural Landscape Design: Your Personal Teammate

From planning to organization to design, the stages of landscape lighting require an experience level that most homeowners simply do not possess. Consider working with a partner who will see your landscape lighting goals to fruition. Let’s sit down and get your landscape lighting project right. We’re a free consultation away