So, you’re ready to install some landscape lighting in your yard? Perhaps you’ve seen some beautifully lit yards in the neighborhood with elements you’d like to incorporate, or you’ve spent hours looking through photos online and pinning your favorite looks. Or maybe you’ve already installed some lights, but they don’t give off the wow factor you were hoping for. Don’t worry! Those looks you love all share the same basic elements—safety, security, ambiance, and balance—which are then customized for each space to maximize that wow factor. Planning a design that incorporates these four elements will help your yard go from drab to fabulous faster than you can say Touchstone Accent Lighting.
This is an important part of landscape lighting that should definitely be considered when planning an outdoor design. Think of it as phase one. Which areas of the yard get the most traffic? Is there enough light to navigate them safely? Are paths clearly marked? Could a guest take an accidental tumble into the pool in the dark, or twist an ankle on a raised paving stone that you avoid by habit? Is there enough light to get from the driveway to the house after the sun goes down? How about while carrying a sleeping child or armloads of groceries?
The most frequently traveled areas of your yard should have adequate illumination. If you’re unsure about how to proceed with this step, take a stroll around your property at night as if it’s the first time. Take note of areas that could use more light, and build your safety lighting plan around them. This is especially important if you have stairs in your yard, whether they are connected to a deck or patio or are part of a walkway. If you or a guest can get from point A to point B without spraining an ankle or crashing into foliage, you have mastered the safety element. It’s time to move on to the next phase of lighting design.
Your yard is now safe to navigate after the sun goes down, but there may still be pockets of darkness you’d like to brighten. Lighting up those shadowy corners of the yard will eliminate places where thieves can hide. Perhaps you’d like to install motion sensor lights on the side of the garage or by a back door. You need to decide what works best for your space, and more importantly, your needs. Do what you need to in order to feel safe; but keep in mind, there is such a thing as too much light. You are deterring thieves, not lighting an airport runway. Keep the light pollution to a minimum. Your neighbors will thank you.
This is the one you can really have fun with. You’ve already planned a design that incorporates safety and security; now you get to pick out light fixtures that go with the look you want to create. Do you prefer soft lighting at the ground level, or fixtures that cast light upward? Is there a particular color or style of fixture that will complement your garden area? Do you have any statuary or fountains you’d like to highlight? Maybe you’d like to try a colored bulb? You can choose a bold and dramatic look, or something soft and romantic. There are so many fixtures to choose from; you are only limited by your imagination.
Now that you’ve planned the design and installed the fixtures, it’s time to step back and observe what you’ve created. Is your eye being pulled to one side of the yard more than the other? Have you created an area with too much light symmetry? Do you find yourself squinting as you let your eyes wander around the yard? This phase is all about evaluating and making the necessary adjustments.
Fixtures that are too close together can be moved, or even removed altogether. Bright bulbs can be exchanged for those with a lower wattage. Some light fixtures even offer a dimming feature that can be controlled remotely. Think back to those outdoor spaces you loved; all of them had a well-balanced feel to them. Don’t get caught in the balance-means-equal trap. A well-balanced yard will not have the same number of fixtures on each side.
When you have created an outdoor space that is safe to navigate and is secure, with well-balanced fixtures you love, it’s time to congratulate yourself on a job well done. You mastered the four design elements, and it won’t be long before neighbors drive past your house and say, “Look! It’s gorgeous! I want to do that to our yard.”