Summary: Lighting the garden to create a beautiful nighttime landscape lighting picture by lighting plants and lighting landscaping features gives you the ability to use outdoor lighting in the garden as your canvas of artistic expression.
Question: Lighting our garden is the next home improvement project we plan to tackle at our home. Can you give us some guidelines for lighting flower beds, trees, walkways and our deck?
We like the DIY side of things and want to make our landscaping take on a whole new look at night with garden lighting, but without hiring a lighting professional. Any landscape lighting tips you can offer? Jenn, Atlanta, Georgia
Answer: Lighting the landscape and your garden for best affect and effect takes some planning.
Just as you originally planned your lawn, trees, shrubbery, and flower beds to create a beautiful daytime picture, so you can use controlled landscape lighting to create an even more beautiful nighttime picture.
Like any other expression of an artist, the exact outdoor lighting effect you want and how to create it is a matter of personal preference and individual inspiration. No hard and fast rules can be set up, since individual gardens will vary, and here you can safely allow your imagination free run.
However, here are a few garden lighting tips.
Locate Outdoor Garden Lighting Inconspicuously and Avoid Too Many Lights
The purpose of garden lighting is to help you and your family enjoy the beauty of your garden at night, so…. DO NOT turn the potential beauty of a night garden into day by placing floodlights and spotlights in the entire garden.
This will produce a flat washed-out look which most people consider monotonous and unattractive. You will achieve better results by using a number of smaller outdoor lighting fixtures, each strategically located and placed to illuminate only the most attractive garden features.
Locate the outdoor lighting so that balance is achieved between alternating areas of light and dark.
A flower bed, tree, or clump of bushes correctly illuminated can have a nighttime beauty all its own, and frankly is more fascinating when surrounded by an area of darkened shadows providing an interesting contrast. Plus, unattractive features, such as plants out of bloom or a distracting background can be concealed in darkness.
The ideal situation is when outdoor garden lighting is planned and installed, the homeowner, guest and visitor should be no more aware of the garden lighting sources at night than you are of the source of daylight.
You can come close to achieving this ideal by selecting and installing your landscaping lighting fixtures as inconspicuously as possible.
This may be more difficult with outdoor solar lighting fixtures as the solar batteries need to be recharged during the day. This means placing them where they get as much sun as possible – often in plain view. Low-voltage lights may be the solution if required.
Lighting Plants And Lighting Landscaping
When lighting plants and lighting landscaping, always locate and adjust the fixture so that the bulb itself is shielded from direct view.
Remember, you want to SEE the result of the lighting and not the actual source of light. The visible bulb not only causes unpleasant glare, but the eye is drawn to it rather than to the plants or other landscaping objects being illuminated.
Spotlights and floodlights are usually the offenders with this problem.
In a well-designed unit having a deep bullet-shaped shield, you can often correct the fault simply by tilting the lighting fixture a few degrees. In more extreme cases, you can easily make an extension tube or other shielding device.
These will greatly lessen the angle at which the now deeply hidden bulb will be visible, and will allow greater freedom of movement when swiveling the light.
Remember, however, that this also confines the beam more so that a smaller circle of light is thrown. Therefore, more units may be required to light up the same area.
Hopefully, this will give you some ideas as you plan the installation of your outdoor lighting project. You got us thinking and will be publishing more tips on garden lighting, so stay tuned!