Don’t Be Left In The Dark
Lighting Up The Great OutdoorsAmy R. Connolly, Writer
Whether it’s for an opulent evening affair in a formal garden or an impromptu backyard campout with the kids, outdoor lighting adds glamour, sophistication and increased functionality to open-air spaces, bringing sparkle and brilliance to otherwise dark locales.
Since most homeowners spend daylight hours at work or away from the house, livable outdoor spaces have become crucial to the work-life balance. Homeowners who seek new and different ways to use their yards often turn to outdoor lighting.
Outdoor lighting is one of the few exterior home accessories that spans the seasons, making it a necessity all year long. Available in a range of shapes and sizes, lighting can be customized to fit your specifications. The hardest part may be determining what type of lighting you need and where to put it. Factors to consider when planning an outdoor look include where you live and what your goals are.
Consider The Location
Homeowners in mild-weather states, such as Florida and California, can benefit from decorative and utilitarian landscape lighting that blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces. Such lighting is common in areas that include swimming pools, backyard waterfalls and outdoor kitchens. Those in chillier states often consider less elaborate outdoor operations but still count on mood lighting near outdoor fireplaces and patio heaters. Of course, all locations benefit from motion-detecting security lights and pathway lights. No matter where you live, experts suggest only using outdoor lighting made of steel, brass or copper because they hold up to extreme weather conditions.
Define The Goal
Before starting on any lighting project, have an objective in mind. Do you want a soft and romantic light? Or would a bright and dramatic setting be more suitable? Landscape architects suggest most lighting goals should ultimately focus on safety, navigation and security. The best way to determine the final plan is to walk the property in the dark (with a flashlight, of course) and figure out what needs to go where. Experts suggest using LED or solar lights for added energy savings.
Start With Curb Appeal
Using lighting to highlight walkways, entrances and decorative features gives any home additional architectural oomph. Make sure the basics are covered, including steps and driveways, while keeping an artistic eye on illuminating bushes, trees and plants. Pathway and post lights add a formal look to the driveway, while floodlights showcase structural designs. Entry lighting at the front door casts a warm, inviting glow while sconces near the garage make traversing the driveway at night easier.
Light Up The Back
For backyard outdoor lighting, many homeowners love to go all-out, creating a space that feels like an extension of the home’s interior. Design experts suggest placing strings of solar-powered lights in an X-shaped pattern over smaller spaces, while large spaces would benefit from lanterns and torches. Consider installing ambiance lighting near and in water features, including pool areas, ponds and fountains. Submersible lights can be used to illuminate waterfalls. Task lighting above outdoor kitchens and beneath outdoor counters creates safe dining and entertaining areas.
Staying Safe And Secure
Outdoor lighting has the added benefit of creating a safe space, free from possible intruders. Motion-activated lights should be placed in the front of the house and backyard, but away from windows so they are not triggered by indoor activity. Other good spots for motion lights include on and near the driveway and in dark corners of the yard. Lights on timers both inside and outside the house also create the appearance that someone is home.