Landscape lighting can be an important addition to indoor spaces. When beautiful statuary, fountains, and artistic landscaping can be seen through windows after dark, they enhance the use of the room from which they are seen. That is no accident. The yard is usually the largest room to light and requires careful planning to reach optimum potential.
As with indoor spaces, lighting outdoor space can serve several purposes: 1) security, allowing the homeowner to monitor the space for unwelcome intruders, 2) general illumination, allowing passage through the space without danger of tripping over a bicycle or garden tools, 3) ambiance, allowing esthetic appreciation of the space, its art, and its drama.
The choices of fixtures, light sources and placement all contribute to the overall success of a plan. As with interior selections, some fixtures are meant to deliver illumination without calling attention to themselves. Hidden in trees, small floodlights with blue filters can deliver an illusion of moonlit walks without being noticed. Lights sunk into reflecting pools and fountains can light up the water while staying out of sight. Discreet path lights can light the way without demanding attention. In each instance, fixture selection can make a big difference. Ornamental wall and post lanterns can contribute to the overall lighting balance while delivering the stylistic accent for which they were chosen. With any of the fixtures listed, quality is paramount. A high quality choice can last for decades. A poor choice will need to be replaced before you know it.
As with indoors, balance of lighting is important. That does not mean uniformity, but rather making sure that every area has some level of light. A wash of light on the wooden privacy fence stretching across the back of the yard extends awareness to the edge of the yard. Moonlight gently illuminating a patio sitting area allows relaxation in the entertainment area, but does not compete with the rest of the yard for attention. Brighter floodlights on key statues, artifacts, and feature trees and plantings draw the eye to different areas, directing the visual show. Well-placed path lighting leads the way from area to area, inviting exploration.
As with any lighting project, landscape lighting can be a daunting undertaking. The space can be vast and the choices a bit overwhelming. More than any space inside the house, yard lighting requires help from someone who has experience with the medium. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.