The best outdoor lights can add pizzazz to your Walled Lake landscape and home’s exterior. If you’ve spent a lot of time and money on your landscaping and property, why hide it at night? Illuminating your garden’s water features and plantings will “wow” your visitors. And lit hardscapes will encourage evening entertaining while offering safety.
J &S Landscaping in southeast Michigan has experts on staff to install the right kind of outdoor lighting that will benefit your landscape the most.
Warm or cool lights?
Landscape lighting is generally on the warm end of the light spectrum. That’s because softer, warmer lights create a relaxed, welcoming environment. Cool, crisp lights create feelings of alertness. These kinds of lights have their place, but in general, you’ll want lights in the 2700-3000k color temperatures.
Many homes have a water feature of some sort – a pool, serene pond or lively fountain. The best outdoor lighting can draw attention to them and make them sparkle. And in the case of a pool, good lighting will make them safer for nighttime use.
Before deciding on the kind of lighting you’d like for your water feature, think about the effect you want. Do you want to bring attention to moving water? Are you looking for soft, subtle and peaceful? How will you view your lit water feature – looking down at it from a patio? At eye level on a pool deck?
Safety should be the number one priority when it comes to swimming at night. But that doesn’t mean you need to have big floodlights shining down on your pool party. Consider moonlighting if you have the right structure or a mature tree nearby. This directs the light downward but through leaves or diffused in some other way.
There is also a technique called wall grazing. In this case, light is directed across a vertical surface to create a soft wash of light.
If you submerse your lighting in a pond that has little or no movement, it may end up illuminating something you’d rather it didn’t – like how dirty the pond is. Lighting still water means more work and possibly extra maintenance on the light fixture. Instead, consider something called moonlighting. That’s when the light source is above the water feature to mimic the moon or sun. This works well if there is a nearby structure or tree to use.
Submerged lights are not a problem in a fountain. Any time there is recirculated water, there’s less chance of algae buildup. Having lighting in the water itself creates a soft, shimmery effect while also drawing attention to the fountain’s shape.
If you have a brook or other moving water on your property, consider lighting the point where the water is moving. Just be careful not to create a glare from the lights bouncing off the water. Glare shields can control this.
Do you have a unique tree, a prize bush or strikingly beautiful flower? Go ahead and shine a light on it at night. You have a few options for the best outdoor lights. Moonlighting is a perfect solution to draw attention to a bush or flower. Filtering light through a tree nearby bathes your plantings in a soft, suffused glow.
That’s harder to do with a tree, unless it’s a small one surrounded by something taller. In that case, try uplighting. Uplighting can achieve a dramatic effect that signifies the importance of the feature after dark. Do this by using spotlights place below or at ground level.
Different kinds of spotlights will offer a different effect. For instance, a bullet spotlight (so names because of its shape) has a narrow beam of light; a flood light has a wider beam and is good for very large trees. Just be careful that you don’t direct the light into your neighbor’s windows.
Patios and other Hardscapes
Patio lighting is probably the easiest to set up because there are so many options. You could use candles or low lanterns set on tables or torches set up along a perimeter as a way to add soft lighting and ambiance. You could hang a chandelier from the rafters of a gazebo or trellis. Moonlighting through a trellis is a way to soften the lighting as well.
If you have a striking design on a retaining wall or interesting brickwork on your home’s facade, consider wall grazing, as mentioned above. This would be perfect way to draw attention to it.
Paths and Walkways
The best outdoor lights for your paths and walkways will not only illuminate the path for safety, but add beauty as well. It doesn’t matter if your path is made of gravel, paved, or lined with plantings or your home, there’s a way to illuminate it.
The traditional way to light a path is with post-and-cap lights. These come in a variety of designs and shapes and can be either solar-powered or hard-wired into your home’s power source. Solar-powered lights will outline your path, so if you want your path illuminated, choose low-voltage path lights.
But why be traditional? One fun option are orb lights. Placed along the path at the base of trees, they serve the same function as the post lights. Downlighting – placing lights in trees or along your home’s soffit so they point down onto the path can create a soft wash of light.
Steps and stairways pose the biggest hazard at night. One way to light these is with a recessed tread light. The fixture directs light onto the step without the light shining directly in your face. These also blend into the step during the day, so they’re unobtrusive.
The best outdoor lighting adds value, beauty and safety to your landscape and hardscape. The professionals at J & S Landscaping can help you choose the right kind of lighting you’ll need to draw attention where you want it. Call us at 248-366-7980 or contact us online to arrange for a consultation.