Landscaping Lighting Design

Published On: February 16th, 2024|

Designing your landscape lighting always starts by considering how you intend to use the space. Do you like to entertain and need good lighting on pathways, patios, and decks? Do the kids want to play soccer on the lawn after dusk? Or do you simply want to enjoy a beautiful view as you drive up to your home each evening? Daystar Landscapes, Inc. shares some pro tips for designing with lights.

Layout Considerations

In addition to thinking about how you plan to use the space, there are design considerations as well. Lights can help you safely travel down a pathway, but they can also provide a gorgeous view and allow you to enjoy your landscaping even after dark. The design elements of your layout are every bit as important as the function of your layout.

  • Views from indoors – We want to capture a beautiful scene from every window. Look out of every window in the house to make sure the design is integrating the lighting with the landscape.
  • Focal points – Choose one or two elements in each area to draw attention to. Think about what will have the best shadow effect.
  • Sense of depth – Use some lights along pathways, some on the house, and some within landscaped beds to provide a feeling of depth.
  • Ambient vs. spotlighting – Ambient lighting creates atmosphere by gently lighting an entire area, while spotlighting draws strong attention to a particular feature. We use both broad and focused beams within the landscape.

Lighting strategies

There are three main ways you can aim lights to get a particular result in the landscape.

  • Downlighting creates diffused, gentle light by aiming lights downward, usually from a tree. Moonlight is romantic and great for conversation.
  • Uplighting is all about the drama of bold shadows and strong effects. By aiming the lights upward into a tree or onto an architectural feature, you emphasize the contrast of dark shadows with bright light.
  • Cross-lighting is when you eliminate shadows by lighting a focal point from both sides. Saguaros, agaves, and boulders look incredible when cross-lit; you can even light up the entire canopy of a tree this way.

What areas should you light?

There are many benefits of landscape lighting, it helps improve the safety and security of your home and adds functionality and beauty. Here are the most common areas to light:

  • Pathways are important both for safety and for beauty, but you don’t always need to use path lights right along the side. We suggest mixing directional path lights with ambient lighting within the landscaped bed for a more natural look.
  • Patios are where we spend time with family and have conversations, so diffuse downlighting from above gets that moonlit effect without blinding people.
  • Trees are an ideal candidate for uplighting or cross-lighting. When there’s a unique branch structure or colored bark, it makes an ideal focal point. You can also create downlighting effects by placing lights within tree branches and aiming them downwards at a patio or garden bed.
  • Water features can be lit as well. While we don’t think of electricity and water as natural partners, but many landscape lights are meant for underwater use. We nestle lights in between rocks so you see the effect of the light without seeing the fixtures.
  • Architectural elements in the home can also be lit to great effect. We light up pillars, stacked stone, and other architectural features. Driveways don’t need a lot of lights, as most people using a driveway will have their headlights on, but you can beautify the journey to the home by lighting the landscape nearby

Special effects with lighting

There are a lot of ways of playing with light and shadow to create special effects in the landscape. We can use filtering light downwards through the canopy of an oak, pine, or maple tree to get a lacy shadow effect on the patio. You can amplify the effect of a focal point by using it to cast a dramatic shadow on the home. Shadows from palm trees or fireplaces could be aimed onto the rippling surface of a water feature. The effects we can create will depend entirely on your own landscape and architecture. These Professional tips for designing your landscape lighting will increase your home’s security and help you get more enjoyment out of your property all year long.

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