Oftentimes customers ask us whether a professionally lit property is really worth it. When considering all the factors involved and the scale of an overall project, does it really make sense to invest in something that seems as trivial as landscape lighting? What seems like such a small addition can really make a big difference and a huge impact in the overall appeal of your property. Whether it be from a personal perceptive or even in terms of re-sale value, we think the cost is worth it. In this week’s post we will explore the styles and applications of different fixtures, the voltage and installation requirements of the most common landscape lighting options and finally, the affects on the overall budget of the project.
Let’s get one thing straight before anything else, these aren’t your grandmother’s landscape lights. The majority of lighting companies these days are offering a huge variety of lighting options, with an application for any use. For example, there are currently lights of all applications on the market that come with optional colour filters, as well as the chance to switch between cool versus warm lighting. Kichler, our go-to brand for lighting, offers almost all of their lights in a warm and cool option and a variety of colours, though the most common are black and architectural bronze, a natural light brown shade. In this section we’ll take a look at the major applications in the lighting game; up or feature lights, path lights, step lights and down lights. Of course each of these options also come in a variety of colours and also have available accessories, which we’ll explore as well.
Though it may seem trivial, there is a lot of stock put into lighting under the correct circumstances. What I mean by this is every light has a specific purpose and a designed application. A great example of this is the up or feature light. The up light is specifically designed to create a dome affect, allowing the beam of light to be expanded and the feature or tree you want highlighted to stand out. When installing an up or feature light, landscapers will take into consideration the tree to feature that the fixture is underlining and adjust the scope or position of the light. Additional caps or shades can also be purchased for this type of light, allowing the beam to be adjusted according to what is being illuminated. One may want a larger beam for a focal tree like a Japanese Maple behind a natural stone waterfall. Alternatively, a landscaper could install a light or a shade on a fixture to focus the beam much more, if there was a decorative piece or sculpture that was being highlighted. The use of an uplight differs greatly from that of a path or down light. A path light is a pretty straightforward fixture, and is somewhat self-explanatory, given it’s name. However, there are differences between the varying path light options. For example, you can purchase a path light that is directed at the desired path but positioned in an outside source, like a garden bed. Alternatively, you can explore the option of a path light that is installed directly in to the patio. This option is a little bit more difficult to work with, in the sense that it can’t be phased into the project at all and needs to be planned into the beginning stages. The positive side to lighting like this is that it can give off a much more modern and streamlined look, if that is the overall theme you’re looking to achieve. These are just a few examples that illustrate how many different options there are out there.
So we’ve touched on the aesthetics of lighting, but what are the more technical requirements for a professionally lit property. The general standard for landscape lighting is low voltage, there are several reasons for this, but the most powerful argument is that many people don’t want to endure the process of having an electrician install high-voltage lighting. Unless you are looking to have your property lit using high voltage lighting for a specific, personal reason, the most cost effective and plausible option is low-voltage lighting that can be easily installed by an experienced landscape contractor. Most landscape suppliers carry a line of landscape lights and offer seminars on installation.
Low-voltage lighting can be installed at the time of your original project, or alternatively, can easily be phased in later. If this is something that you are looking at having installed into an already landscaped property there are some suggestions we would make to our customers if they were looking to explore this option, which we feel will ease the process in the long run. The most helpful tip we can provide is to consider where you want the lighting to be placed in your second phase. If you consider where you want the fixtures to be placed, you can have the lines roughed in to those areas for easy access when you do move forward with installing your system. If you don’t want the lines themselves to be placed around the property you can also opt to run conduits, allowing more flexibility later if you decided to change the layout of your lighting. Try asking your contractor to run this conduit for you. Usually, they can do so for a minimal charge and this allows you to explore your options.
We understand that every project comes with a budget. And in our experience, that budget usually gets pushed to it’s limits with the installation of hardscaping. But landscape lighting isn’t an area where you want to draw the line in the sand. It’s a common school of thought that there is rarely room in a budget for lighting and it can be viewed as a luxury. We hope that through this post and a little investigation we’re made the argument that lighting your property and really investing in these lights can pay off in the long run. Even a few hundred dollars on lighting can make a substantial difference. And as long as a large enough transformer is purchased, additional fixtures can be added with little effort. There are so many ways to add lighting to a project, how can you say no?
Though lighting may seem like a small aspect or somewhat of a trivial add-on in the grand scheme of a project, it can have a big impact on the overall ambience created in a property. We’ve explored the lighting options, front different styles and colours to the proper applications. We’re touched on the technical aspects of installing a lighting system and we’ve discussed the impact this will have on your project and your pocketbook. We hope this post has illuminated (pun intended) the mysteries of professional landscape lighting. so the last thing we’ll recommend is this; ask yourself one question; to light or not to light? And we say, go for it!