Working in the landscape lighting industry, we’ve seen how different outdoor lighting design trends have come and gone over the years. While some design fundamentals hold strong and true for years, even decades, other design elements are...
Don’t: Place Path Lights in Planter Beds
Path lights are often misused and abused. Path lights are meant to light pathways. But for some reason we’ve seen them installed in the oddest places. Flower beds are one place we’ve seen path lights installed that doesn’t always make sense.
Be it a mislead effort or a design mistake commonly made by people new to lighting design, path lights seem to always find their way into flower beds around the perimeter of the yard. The problem with this design approach is that it doesn’t make for effective lighting.
Lighting should be done purposefully, not randomly. Path lights lining a pathway will create functional task light that shows people how to get from point A to point B.
There are other more effective ways to capture the beauty throughout your property. Before a path light ends up in a flower bed, consult with a professional lighting designer. There could be another way to cast light over your flower beds that doesn’t call for an unnecessary number of path lights.
Do: Using Steel Bollards for Your Path Lighting
Steel bollards are finding their way from the shore lines all the way up to the mountain range. The term bollard is actually a nautical term. A bollard is the post ships and boats tie up to on docks. These light fixtures provide not only functional light to pathways, they also add a splash of magic in the way they look.
Steel bollards offer a signature beauty that blends into the landscape. This is another reason why steel bollards are becoming such a favorite for so many people. With steel cut in the shape of oak or aspen leafs, these fixtures cast a gorgeous shadow on the ground. Striking to look at no matter if it's day or night, you can’t go wrong with a beautifully crafted steel bollard.
Don’t: Use Motion Sensor Lights for Security Lighting (or at all)
Contrary to popular belief, motion sensing lights do not make for an effective security lighting solution. In fact, motion sensing lights tend to encourage trespass more than lights that are simply left on.
Why? More light equals less trespass. If a potential trespassers sees two homes, one that is well lit and one that isn’t, they will likely target the home that possess less risk to them being seen. Once their mind is made up, it’s already too late.
Even if the dark home has motion sensing lights, they will not turn on until after the trespasser has already made up their mind to enter the property. This is why motion sensing lights often fail to make effective security lights. They don’t turn on until after a trespasser has already entered what they assumed was a dark property. Even if the light turns on, the trespasser has already made the decision to proceed. The point of security lighting is to discourage a trespasser from entering before they’ve made a decision about entering the property.
Do: Use Security Lighting to Beautify your Property
Security lighting can add beauty to your home. Effective residential security lighting needs to do three things: Illuminate your property to protect it from trespassers, not create an eyesore for the neighbors, and accent the beautiful features of the property for everyone to see and enjoy.
The beautiful thing about low voltage landscape lighting is the way it allows us to do all three of these things. 12v systems with proper designs provide enough power to accent key features, but not so powerful that the neighbors will complain about bright lights shining in their windows.
In addition, by using the shrouds on the fixtures, light trespass can be eliminated. A lighting designer’s goal is for people to see the effect and not the source of the light.
By making adjustments to the fixture placement, lumen output, and beam spread, a good lighting designer can create security lighting that will also assure each feature in the landscape is captured beautifully.
Don’t: Use an Up Light for a Path Light
Sometimes, when I go to consult with someone about their old lighting system, I’ll see things that don’t make a lot of sense to me. One nonsensical thing is when up lights are used to light stairs or paths.
Yes, directional up lights can be adjusted and aimed at the path or steps. The only issue with lighting steps this way is that the light source will also be aimed up (no matter how good the shroud is). This means that people walking down the stairs will get an eyeful from the light shining at them. No one wants to trip down a flight of steps because they were blinded by a light whose purpose was to help them see. Path lights were invented so they could cast light downwards and be used for paths and steps.
Fixtures are different because they serve different purposes. Sometimes, when it comes to lighting design, it can be good to get back to the fundamentals.
Do: Update Your Lighting System with Smart Controls
Smart controls are becoming a common addition for many landscape lighting systems. Smart controls that allow you to adjust the brightness of your bistro style lights with the touch of a button or dial is incredible. The technology available to make your lighting system easier to control and use is definitely something worth asking your lighting designer about.
For those who just want their lights to automatically turn on and off, today’s timers have also entered into a new technological age. For example, the timers we have available today are truly a marvel when compared to what we had available even just a few years back. If you’ve had an analog timer go through a power outage, you know what a pain it can be to reset them.
But with astronomical timers, you don’t have to deal with resetting your lighting control when the power goes out. Today, you don’t even have to adjust them for daylight savings since they do it themselves. By entering in the time and coordinates for your home’s location in the world, your timers will know exactly when sunset and sunrise happen throughout the entire year. They will always turn on and off when they are supposed to. In addition, they have battery memory backups in case there is ever a power outage. The only drawback to these timers are that they need to have the backup batteries replaced once every five years or so.
Landscape Lighting Makes All the Difference
At Kinwood Landscape of Tennessee, the art of outdoor illumination is a real passion we work to perfect. Designing elegantly bespoke landscape lighting systems is simply all we do. For over 15 years, our award winning team of designers and craftsmen have striven to bring the best outdoor lighting experience possible to people’s homes and businesses across the Nashville front.
Located in Franklin, Kinwood Landscape installs, maintains, and repairs lighting systems throughout Tennessee's residential areas, including Nashville, Hendersonville, Murfreesboro and Spring Hill Areas.
If you have an upcoming project you’d like help with, call us at (615) 373-3809 for more information, schedule a free consultation here, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form on our website