You bought the house you’ve always wanted and remodeled the interior to match your notions of comfort and style. But when you look out the window into the yard at night all you see are a few slivers of light seeping in from the neighbor’s property. And when you approach the house at night it seems like it’s on an island, alone in a sea of darkness. When concepting their dream house too many people simply abandon the yard to the night. This is a shame because these two aspects of the property are not mutually exclusive. They’re indivisible components of a whole. In this article we’re going to look at the right way to activate your landscape with light and complete the landscaping design of your house.
The Importance of Light to Landscaping Design
Landscaping design does not exist in a vacuum. Your home is part of the landscape and the landscape is an intrinsic component of your home. But when darkness falls too many otherwise beautiful homes abandon their surroundings and become stand-alone features that look oddly incomplete. The following tips will help you reconcile the house and the yard to create a complete home.
Direct vs Indirect Lighting
- Direct lighting is used to illuminate specific features of the property either for aesthetic or practical purposes. You might want to call attention to a particularly beautiful bush or tree. Or you may want to install uplights on a pergola for dramatic effect. If you have an outdoor kitchen you’ll need enough direct light so that all activities there can be conducted safely.
- Indirect lighting serves more of a strictly aesthetic purpose. It also tends to be softer in nature and covers wider areas than direct lighting. Because this type of lighting is not intended to illuminate a particular task it doesn’t need to be particularly bright or concentrated. Its job is to tastefully fill in the areas between specific landscaping design features and provide a sense of space. It rarely calls attention to itself.
When it comes to landscaping construction pathways serve myriad functions. They carry material cues from the house to the yard and back again. They provide physical and visual connections between elements of the landscaping design. They allow for safe passage and they help control the visitor experience. All this is lost, however, if the pathways disappear at night.
When it comes to lighting pathways you don’t want anything overbearing. Soft lights along the border of the pathway are the smart play. Placing a series of LED lights close to the ground, perhaps projecting light across the surface of the pathway, creates a compelling visual that guides the eye toward the focal point. Be that the front door, deck, pool or whatever. A beautifully lit path is also an inviting path and one that your family, friends, and guests will feel comfortable and safe navigating at night. Landscaping construction and design companies can advise you on the best type of light for your pathways.
Security lighting is essential but it doesn’t have to be so bright that it makes your property look like a prison yard. A proper landscape lighting scheme should integrate the security lights in a way that makes them seem a natural part of the overall landscaping design. Direct lighting that illuminates a particular feature of the house or landscape can pull double duty as security lighting.
Landscaping construction companies often recommend motion-activated security lighting as well. This way the yard isn’t flooded with light all night long and more subtle aspects of the lighting design don’t get overwhelmed by the power of the security lights. This type of security light is often the most effective because would-be intruders are usually taken completely by surprise when they approach the house and the lights come on exposing them.
The Bottom Line
Proper landscape lighting covers all the bases – aesthetics, practicality, security and safety. And with today’s LED lights setting new standards of versatility and efficiency landscape lighting won’t send your monthly electricity bill through the roof either. When considering home improvement projects for this year, consider adding the missing touch to your landscaping design: light.