Landscape Lighting Planning & LEDs: Creating a Plan

When it comes to landscape lighting and design, you need a well-thought-out master plan that incorporates lighting in different phases. Which phases should be done first, second, third? Where do you need the most light? What are you hoping to achieve? Landscape lighting addresses three main factors: safety for guests and home owners at night, theft deterrent and ambience. Having a master plan in place will help this process go much more smoothly.

LED to Save $$$

First off, LED lighting is the way to go if you want to save energy and money. If you currently have incandescent outdoor lighting, you should consider making the switch to LED (Light Emitting Diode). While LED lights cost more upfront, you will save money in the long run because they take up much less electricity, translating to lower energy bills for you. In fact, LED landscape lighting uses only 15 to 20 percent of the electricity used in halogen or incandescent bulbs. So, for example, if your electric bill is $100 a month now with traditional lighting, you could slash that bill to $20 a month with LED.

LED lighting has advanced over the years to allow for the ultimate in directional lighting, from spotlights to task lighting. They also last about 50,000 hours so you pretty much never have to change them, unlike traditional bulbs which you probably have to change at least once a year. LED lights also happen to be much cooler than incandescent bulbs, which give off 90 percent of their energy in the form of heat.

When considering an exterior landscape lighting system for beauty, curb appeal and safety, you will first have to explore what you want to light. Walk through your yard after sunset to get a better idea of your plan, bringing with you a pad and paper to sketch it out. From there, you can more readily decide on lighting techniques, power supplies, bulbs, fixtures and accessories.

There are many smart solutions out there on the market today, including apps and controllers you can use in conjunction with your smart phone to control your wireless outdoor landscape lighting. Using your smart phone or tablet, you can program your lights to go on and off according to your schedule to save money and energy all year long.

Lighting Your Focal Points

Every yard is different. Some have lots of trees, while others have more bushes around the house. Some have pathways and some don’t. A creative plan will account for all the features in your yard, not just the house itself.

For trees, you will want to use well, bullet, or flood lights, aiming the ground lights straight up into the foliage, while also bathing the trunk in light, suggests This Old House. If you want to illuminate foliage from above, place two 20-watt downlights high up, but be careful not to cross the beams.

To illuminate garden beds, place fixtures about 20 feet apart for pools of light rather than continuous illumination. Bullet and wash lights are best to illuminate the facade of the home, positioning them at the corners of the house or to highlight architectural details. Fill in the spaces with softer wash lights. If you have a focal point that you want to draw attention to, use flood, bullet or wash lights to highlight fountains, tree swings, arbors and trellises. Ideally, you’ll want to put two or more lights on these features to cut down on stark shadows.

We understand this process can be daunting for a first-timer. That’s why you should call in the professionals. We can come out to your home for a landscape lighting consultation and get you ready for the holidays!