You work hard to keep your garden looking great, but the irony is that you spend little time admiring it because you are gone all day and return only as evening comes. One way to enjoy the fruits of your labor is to install lighting outdoors so that you can appreciate your majestic trees, artfully trimmed shrubs, stunning flowers and exquisite landscaping.
In essence, you can turn your yard into a sort of extension of your home, and depending on the climate where you live, it can be a place that you enjoy at night for many months a year. The right lighting scheme will draw you outdoors every night possible and show your guests what a fantastic garden that you have created.
Planning Your Garden Lighting
The placement of lights in your garden will vary according to what you want to highlight, but one primary objective should stand paramount – no lights should blind the onlooker, and if the lights are not seen at all, better yet. You might have a pond that you want to emphasize, or a bench. You might have an outdoor oven to show off, or a proud set of oak trees. Decide what you want to underscore before you begin to install lights.
Thus, around your home and shining up on most shrubs and trees should be lights that are either built into the ground or rest just on top of it with an angle that captures the spotlighted structure or plant. Lights near the home can project a powerful spotlight to show off your home’s sharp lines. Lights at the base of trees will have a lower wattage but still spotlight the imposing trunk and branches. Lights inside of bushes should be diffused to cover a wide area.
Some homeowners are drawing attention to their trees in a different way, installing lights at the top of the trunks just below the foliage. This creates a sensational effect, as if the trees are floating in mid-air.
Other items that need to be illuminated at night are footpaths and grassy areas. Many options exist for these two targets, from short bollards to showcase your healthy grass to lanterns on short posts to guide the way for walkers on your paths. You can decide how imposing or subtle you want the lights to be in both of these cases because abundant choices are available. Your lights should throw a wide light on your grass and a narrower beam on paths.
Popular Choices for Lights in the Garden
More and more, homeowners are using LED lights because of their cost effectiveness when outdoor lights are heavily used by family and friends who are outdoors on a consistent basis. LEDs that are rated for outdoor use in all temperature variations should be chosen, and their long life, minimal maintenance and low power requirements will make them almost worry-free. Most landscapers opt for white light in outdoor applications (yellow does not complement plants!), unless the homeowner wants the especially splashy effect that colored lights can give.
Another must for outdoor lights, regardless of bulb type, is that they be controlled from inside the house so that you can turn off the entire show just before retiring for the night in your bedroom. This also enables you to turn off the lights if you hear a suspicious noise and want to have a blackout effect on a potential intruder or animal.
As for cost, it varies greatly, especially the difference between 120-volt and 12-volt lights. The former category requires lines to be buried in your yard and professional installation. The latter necessitates neither and can be installed by you.
Use your imagination, get input from landscapers and mix your lighting strategies to make your garden a stunning masterpiece after the sun goes down. Trees, shrubs, flowers and even grass have a completely different look at night under light. You and your guests will enjoy the spectacle until inclement weather or freezing temperatures drive you indoors.