Summary: Using colored landscape lighting in your garden can add loads of drama, but use the lighting sparingly, and only after experimenting.
Question: We have been thinking about using color lighting as a part of our garden lighting plan. We do not want to make things look weird or ugly with color.
We cannot find much in the way of advice on the best ways to use color landscape lighting, can you help? Evan, Lebanon, Pa
Answer: Evan, using colored in the landscape lighting design can be tricky. Colored light can be used advantageously to add drama to your garden lighting, but use it sparingly, and only after experimenting first with white light.
I’m not a fan of landscape lighting that changing colors. I never think you achieve a GOOD LOOK.
It can be easily achieved by means of a special color lens kit designed to snap over the face of any standard landscape lighting fixture. The lens itself is made of heat-resistant weatherproof glass, and I’ve seen it available in red, green, blue, or amber.
At least one manufacturer also makes a weatherproof reflector flood lamp with the color fused into the surface of the bulb.
These come in five colors: red, yellow, blue, green, and amber. They eliminate the need for separately colored filters, but are more expensive than standard reflector floods.
Colored Lighting Filters Lessen Light Brightness
Remember that colored filters of all kinds considerably lessen the brightness of the light, so you must increase either the number of lighting fixtures or the wattage of the bulbs to get the same amount of light on a given area.
Generally speaking, shrubs or flowers in colorful bloom look best in white light only.
Green or greenish-blue filters enhance the colors of grass and green foliage and add depth to the scene.
Yellow, on the other hand, deadens the color of grass and foliage, but is used satisfactorily on some types of shrubbery and on garden sculpture as a focal point.
Red is best used when the scene is to be viewed from a distance, and gives the appearance of firelight.
Blue gives a weird unnatural light, and is not particularly desirable in gardens unless mixed with green.
The video below shows different colored lighting on a plant to show you how they provide different looks.
An exception is the pale bluish-white light given off by some lamps. These give a truly beautiful effect when used for lighting large shrubs and trees.
Colored lights can also be mixed to give various intermediate shades, and to create interesting multicolored shadow effects.
But the resultant effects are often quite unexpected, so experiment first to assure the desired results.
Today’s lighting fixtures offer many possibilities, from solar lights, new fiber optic lighting, string lights, outdoor low voltage and LED lighting, you now have many options to make your lighting project unique.