Landscape Now: 5 Tips For Landscape Lighting

Homeowners spend a considerable amount of effort, time, and expense creating their landscape gardens, patios, walks, features, and plantings, yet many times there is little thought about landscape lighting to highlight and illuminate their landscape for viewing and use when the sun goes down.


Lighting your outdoor space seems straightforward enough, right? On the contrary, there are several factors to consider in creating the best atmosphere.

With a well-designed lighting plan, your landscape can become enjoyable during the evening hours…in spring, summer, fall and even during the winter months from inside your home. With appropriately placed light sources you can achieve moonlight effects, highlights for focal points, illumination of paths and patios for safety and balanced lighting to tie in the landscape plantings, structures and lighting creating a very aesthetically pleasing landscape design. Let’s look at 5 tips to consider when designing landscape lighting and mistakes to avoid!

The Design Comes First

As with any project involving your landscape, gardens, and construction projects, it is extremely important to create a plan and design for the placement of light sources in your landscape, identify the principles of light to be used, techniques to be implemented, bulbs, fixtures, transformers, and wire needed. Although homeowners can investigate lighting and learn the basic principles, it is advised to seek out a landscape lighting designer to consult with to plan and implement major projects. Their expertise and familiarity with the intricate nature of low voltage lighting, effect of light and the numerous ways to provide the appropriate amount and intensity of light.

Goals of Landscape Lighting

The major goals of lighting are to provide security, ensure safety in the landscape, appropriate lighting for various needs and the overall aesthetics of the lighting plan. Each goal can be achieved in numerous ways, with each technique and choices affecting the overall aesthetic result of the lighting design. Although fixtures are the vehicles that hold the bulb, it is the light source (bulb) that is the most critical decision to be made by the designer.

Landscape Lighting Design Principles

Five principles of lighting design are:

  • Cohesion: the lighting plan must make visual sense to the viewer, combining the architectural, landscape, and lighting techniques into a sensible relationship with each other.
  • Depth: illumination of close and distance features will add depth to the owner’s view of the landscape, adding elements of intrigue to explore and move around the landscape.
  • Focal points: distinctive features in a landscape deserve to be highlighted…statues, pools, specimen trees, and architectural structures like arbors, gazebos, and specialty fencing.
  • Balance: There needs to be a sense of balance and proportion to the plants, structures, and features that are illuminated to create a feeling of visual congruity…areas of lighting and shadows that seem even and not unbalanced.
  • Visual comfort: Nothing is more uncomfortable for the viewer than glaring light sources, extremely bright bulbs, or misplaced fixtures. Making sure the lighting sources are comfortable for the viewer will ensure there are no distractions that will impact the effectiveness of the illumination.

Light Up Your Night!

Although creating a landscape lighting design plan and project may seem involved the result of installing lighting on your property will provide numerous opportunities to enjoy your landscape year round, ensure safety for your family and visitors and add an element of security to your home!

In my next article I will discuss the allure of water gardens in your landscape and 7 key points to consider when planning to add one to your landscape!

“Light always follows the path of the beautiful.”

Read the entire article at GoLocalProv | Real Estate | Landscape Now: 5 Tips For Landscape Lighting.



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Outdoor Lighting for Curb Appeal and Safety


Think about it: Most of your guests (and if your home is on the market, many would-be buyers) see your home only in the evening, when its best features may be lost in the shadows. Well-executed outdoor lighting enhances architectural detail and plays up landscape features, casting your home in the best possible light and adding an abundance of curb appeal.

Outdoor lighting also adds value. Judith Patriski, an appraiser and owner of Quad Realty Co. near Cleveland, estimates that for upper-bracket homes, an investment in outdoor lighting can yield a 50% return. “When you pull into a driveway and see a gorgeous home, you’re going to pay more for it,” says Patriski.

And she emphasizes that it’s not only about aesthetics: “In all price ranges, lighting for security is important”—both to protect against intruders and falls. Here are the elements of successful outdoor lighting.

Mimicking moonlight

Much of the success of exterior lighting hinges on its design. Hang around lighting designers long enough and you’ll hear a lot of talk about “moonlight effect.” That’s a naturalistic look that features light no more intense than that of a full moon, but still strong enough to make beautiful shadows and intense highlights.

Other techniques outdoor lighting designers use:

  • Highlight trees: Whether illumined from below or given presence by a light mounted in the tree itself, trees make stunning features.
  • Use uplights: Uplighting is dramatic because we expect light to shine downward. Used in moderation, it’s a great way to highlight architectural and landscaping features.
  • Have a focus: The entryway is often center stage, a way of saying, “Welcome, this way in.”
  • Combine beauty and function: For example, adding lighting to plantings along a pathway breaks up the “runway” look of too many lights strung alongside a walk.
  • Vary the fixtures: While the workhorses are spots and floods, designers turn to a wide range of fixtures, area lights, step lights, and bollards or post lights.
  • Stick to warm light: A rainbow of colors are possible, but most designers avoid anything but warm white light, preferring to showcase the house and its landscape rather than create a light show.
  • Orchestrate: A timer, with confirmation from a photocell, brings the display to life as the sun sets. At midnight it shuts shut down everything but security lighting. Some homeowners even set the timer to light things up an hour or so before dawn.

Adding safety and security

Falls are the foremost cause of home injury, according to the Home Safety Council. Outdoors, stair and pathway lighting help eliminate such hazards.

Often safety and security can be combined. For example, motion-detecting security lighting mounted near the garage provides illumination when you get out of your car at night; the same function deters intruders. Motion detecting switches can also be applied to landscape lighting to illumine shadowy areas should anyone walk nearby.

Even the moonlight effect has a security function: Soft, overall landscape lighting eliminates dark areas that might hide an intruder, exposing any movement on your property. Overly bright lights actually have a negative effect, creating undesirable pockets of deep shadow.

Switching to LEDs

Once disparaged for their high cost and cold bluish glow, LEDs are now the light source of choice for lighting designers. “They’ve come down in price and now have that warm light people love in incandescent bulbs,” says Paul Gosselin, owner of Night Scenes Landscape Lighting Professionals in Kingsland, Texas. “We haven’t installed anything but LEDs for the last year.”

Although LED fixtures remain twice as expensive as incandescents, installation is simpler because they use low-voltage wiring. “All in all, LEDs cost only about 25% more to install,” Gosselin says. “And they’ll save about 75% on your electricity bill.”

Another advantage is long life. LEDs last at least 40,000 hours, or about 18 years of nighttime service. With that kind of longevity, “why should a fixture have only a two-year warranty?” asks Gosselin. He advises buying only fixtures with a 15-year warranty, proof that the fixture’s housing is designed to live as long as the LED bulbs inside.

Read the entire article at the following link:



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Six Things To Consider For A Landscape Lighting Plan

Six Things To Consider For A Landscape Lighting Plan

Landscape lighting is as much of an art as it is a science.

Before designing a landscape lighting plan, there are six things a landscape architect should consider.

  • Client goals and objectives
  • Ambient light levels
  • What materials and objects going to be illuminated
  • What types of plants will be illuminated
  • What should not be lit
  • Applicable laws, regulations, and codes

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Let’s look at each item in more detail.

What Are The Client Goals & Objectives?

Landscape architects must first consider the client’s goals and objectives for the site at night. The client may have several competing goals in mind. For some clients, safety and security are the primary goals. Other clients may want to emphasize the architectural qualities of the site’s buildings and landscape features. The intended nighttime site use determines how the site will be illuminated.

Questions to ask the client early in the design phase include:

  • Who is the nighttime audience or target user?
  • Where will the space be viewed at night?
  • Will site visitors only view the space or navigate through the site?
  • How will the space be used at night?
  • What is the most important feature or critical focus?
  • What is the Site’s Ambient Light Level?

The site’s ambient light levels influences the amount of additional light that the designer will use to achieve the desired lighting effect. Existing site lighting, street lighting and lighting from adjacent properties all may affect the ambient light level.

What Materials & Objects Will Be Illuminated?

Before a landscape architect can start to design a landscape lighting plan, he or she needs to identify which objects or spaces need to be illuminated. Determine the design’s focal points are circulation system before beginning the lighting design.

Consider the color and materials of the objects you are going to illuminate. Rough-textured objects can be accentuated with some illumination techniques. Dark surfaces will require more light than lighter objects. A savvy designer will find gather useful information early on in the design process.

What Types of Plants Will Be Illuminated?

Plants can have a dramatic affect on the final lighting design. Trees can be up-lit, down-lit, cast shadows, or silhouetted. Landscape lighting effects can take advantage of interesting forms or textures of plants in the landscape.

What Should Not Be Lit?

Not every item in the landscape needs to be illuminated. Determine which objects do not require illumination for safety or as an accent in the landscape. Light trespass and light pollution are other things to avoid. Keep the light on your site and off of adjoining properties. Use cutoff fixtures to direct away from the sky and towards the ground to prevent light pollution.

What Are The Site’s Applicable Laws, Regulations, & Codes?

Determine the regulatory framework for the site before you begin the design. In California, Title 24 of the Energy Code restricts the amount of power that exterior lighting can consume. Additionally, the site’s “Light Zone” affects the amount of light than can be used based on the land use and density. Other codes include the California Electric code and codes that apply to swimming pools if water features are to be illuminated. Additionally, local codes can add layers of restrictions and complexity to the process.

Before starting a lighting plan, it is critical to determine the site’s and client’s goals and objectives. Determine what features will be illuminated and what not to light. And finally, determine energy restrictions that affect the lighting design.

via Six Things To Consider For A Landscape Lighting Plan | CSE for Landscape Architects.


Filed under Educational, Lighting Design

Which Outdoor Lighting Is Right for You, LED or Low-Voltage Halogen?

County Living Magazine

A Resource Guide for Home, Health, Work & Leisure

Which Outdoor Lighting Is Right for You, LED or Low-Voltage Halogen?  February 11, 2013

Outdoor lighting can be a highly efficient way to add curb appeal, safety and security to your home each and every evening – even when you’re not at home.But what kind of outdoor lights should you buy, LED or low-voltage halogen?

One is halogen. One is LED. Can you tell which is which?

In short, either can work and make your home look beautiful and lived-in with the right outdoor lighting design. Both have distinct advantages, and both have the ability to highlight all the best parts of your property. The chart below is a quick summary of key differences between LED and low-voltage halogen outdoor lighting.

What the image above shows is that when planned and installed correctly, and with the right fixtures and bulbs, LED and halogen lights can create the same desired effect. You’ll notice the color of both bulbs is very similar, and that’s because of the quality of bulbs used. High quality in both low voltage and LED lighting will provide a color rendering index CRI of over 80, which is what’s needed for outdoor lighting applications. Make sure you check your fixtures’ CRI, as older LED technologies may produce a substandard light.

Energy efficiency is important when choosing an outdoor lighting fixture. For residential lighting, LED takes the cake on being more energy-efficient and longer lasting than halogen, cutting down on maintenance costs as well. And even on properties where primarily halogen lights are used, it is recommended that LED outdoor fixtures be selected for hard to reach areas like up in trees or on the peaks of the home. The reason? To cut down on maintenance and bulb replacement and the cost for repair if needed. Where halogen fixtures come out on top is the initial price. Halogen’s initial price is lower, where the initial investment in LED’s can be rather expensive, depending on your needs.

The bottom line is that both LED and Halogen are good options. It’s important not to overlook the proper design and installation of the lighting, regardless of the technology. Careful planning of the location of the lighting and the effect that it creates are often overlooked.Some homeowners work late or travel a great deal. Many of them really enjoy the flexibility that a Lighting Control Automation system provides. Lighting Control Automation allows your home to look lived in even when you are away, with preset controls to manage your lights – both inside and outside. You can change the settings anytime remotely using a computer or smart phone with Internet access.

Comparisons: Halogen vs. LED Outdoor Lighting

Bulb Life 5,000 hours 40,000 hours
Energy Usage Low Lower – 80%
Maintenance Low Low
Installation Easy Easier
System price Low up front cost Higher up front cost


via Which Outdoor Lighting Is Right for You,LED or Low-Voltage Halogen?.


Filed under Educational, General, Lighting Design

Landscape Architect & Specifier News Feature

P.M. Lighting’s PM7XLC path light was recently featured in Landscape Architect & Specifier News magazine as a world premier item. This solid copper 11 inch path light is excellent for large scale projects when a standard path light will not provide the impact or illumination required. This fixture can handle up to a 50 watt halogen bi-pin lamp and it comes in an LED option as well. Check out the full issue of Landscape Architect & Specifier News at

Featured in LASN Magazine


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Enjoy the benefits of copper in a contemporary black finish!

On occasion clients tell me, although they love the benefits and characteristics of solid copper, they feel the shiny look of copper does not fit in with their style home or personal decorating tastes. Most often, these clients are looking for a finish that will blend in with a historic or rustic home but many are looking for a lighting design that works well with a contemporary decor.

Most of our dealers know that we offer an antique (bronze type) finish for clients who want the copper to look like it has already started the patina process for an “aged” look. However, I have talked to several dealers who were surprised to learn that we have a unique acid wash process to actually make the fixture a beautiful black satin or gunmetal finish for customers looking for that contemporary look. Imagine, a fixture that will last and perform like copper but doesn’t look like copper. The reason we use copper is for its durability to support our lifetime warranty on our fixtures. Until now, if one wanted a black finish on his or her landscape lighting fixtures, the main options were fixtures made from plastic or coated aluminum.

The next time your client says they don’t think copper will work for them, offer the black finish as an option and give them the best of both worlds ….. the finish they want AND the benefits of copper.



Filed under Customer Communication, Educational, Lighting Design

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