Tips On Landscape Lighting Levels in The Night Garden

There is more to installing lights in the landscape then flipping a switch… How bright should be the landscape garden lights? Are there any guidelines you should consider? Many factors come into play to influence thoughts and feelings (along with your neighbors) on garden lighting.

Read the article below for more on landscape lighting levels, from defining dim to bright lighting levels…

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Question: How bright should the landscape lights be in our garden? Are there any guidelines? Kayla, Branson, Missouri

Answer: Kayla, people have many opinions on what they would consider to be “low or dim” lighting as well as “bright” lighting, especially in the garden landscape.

Many factors come into play to influence your own thoughts and feeling (along with your neighbors) on garden lights. For example:

  • Time of day
  • Weather conditions
  • Where and how the lighting is being viewed
  • Purpose of the lighting – for example: playing games, lighting a walkway or lighting the patio for eating
  • The general lighting of the surrounding area – light or dark
  • Type of lighting you prefer

All of these factors make it difficult to make a broad statement that you must have X-amount of foot candles (how light levels are measured) to be considered “low or dim” lighting, bright or “medium” lighting.

I’ve always found “foot candles” to be a difficult method of description to use with homeowners in helping them determine the “landscape lighting level” they want or should install for their garden lighting design.

However, foot candles are the “measurement standard” and it does help provide some guidance is how much light a foot candle is, how much light you will want in your garden and what types of lighting fixtures produce the desired lighting levels.

Let’s try to give you some general real world “lighting” definitions/examples to help you translate those lighting levels into ones best suited to your garden.

Dim or Low Lighting

For the landscape this would be about 1-3 foot candles, the kind of outdoor lighting you would experience during an evening of full moon or the lighting under a street light on a sidewalk.

Medium Lighting

This lighting is that middle ground lighting, roughly in the 5-8 foot candle range. Less brightness than you would find sitting inside your house but brighter than the full moon or streetlight.

Most of the lighting fixtures used for garden lighting are in the 4-6 foot candle range.

Bright Lighting

This lighting design would be footcandles of 8 or higher. These lighting levels are found mostly indoors. For example, office lighting is usually between 65 to 150 foot candles, while a small reading lamp puts out around 30 foot candles.

Rarely, will you need to bring the “bright lights” to illuminate the landscape. Bright lighting brings with it some special problems and issues.

Washing out objects with over lighting, glare and bothering the neighbors. Staying in the “mid-range” of brightness in your landscape (about 5 foot candles) is about right for most landscape garden lighting applications.

I hope that helps give you some perspective on landscape lighting brightness!

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