As the holiday season comes to a close, many homeowners are getting ready to take down their lights. But that doesn’t mean your home has to go dark. While it may be bad form to leave your holiday lights up until Easter, high-quality exterior lighting for your home is perfect year-round. Well-designed exterior and landscape lighting benefits your home in many ways, both practical and aesthetic. Just contact your local TrustDALE certified outdoor lighting experts to get your home lighting project started.
The Beauty of Outdoor Lighting
Everyone loves holiday lights for their sparkling beauty. But even without holiday lights, you can beautify your home’s exterior with the right lighting. Good outdoor lighting highlights two key areas of your home: the structure and the landscaping.
Lighting your home’s structure allows you to extend the beauty of your home’s facade in the dark of night when it would otherwise be obscured. In addition to revealing what you see by day, strategically-placed lighting can bring out new features you don’t notice in the daylight. For instance, broad wash lighting that illuminates the walls of your home can accentuate the texture of your home’s facade. If you have brick, stone, stucco, or even cladding, adding the right lights can create a unique play of light and shadow. Besides your walls, more targeted lights can bring out architectural details of your home that get passed over during the day. For instance, you can illuminate the capitals on the tops of pillars or small decorative touches around a dormer or arch.
In addition to lighting up your house, lighting your landscaping can add a new level of beauty to your home at night. Typically, landscape lighting is used to illuminate standout features, such as trees, sculptures, or water features, as well as around gardens and pathways. One unique type of landscape lighting is artificial moonlight, which rates the effect of sitting outside under a full moon.
To light trees, most designers recommend at least two lights to avoid harsh shadows in any one direction. Bullet lights, which create a narrow beam of light, can point up from the ground along the tree trunk or into the tree canopy. For tall trees, you may need more than two lights. Trees with broad canopies can also be used to create downlighting. Fixtures are installed in the tree canopy and aimed downward to create a soft wash of light on the area below.
To light gardens, many outdoor lighting specialists recommend low post lights or well lights sunk into the ground. Well lights can illuminate even low bushes and flower beds from below, while post light can spread an inviting pool of light over ornamental plants.
Although most homeowners think of outdoor lighting for its beauty, it is also extremely functional. Path lighting, step lighting, and entryway lighting are all part of a complete outdoor lighting design. A well-planned outdoor lighting scheme should include all the light necessary to move safely around your property at night.
Pathway lighting is one of the first types of lighting many homeowners install. Many don’t even consider it as part of an overall outdoor lighting project. But looking at pathway lighting as purely functional misses an opportunity to draw together elements of your outdoor lighting plan into an aesthetically harmonious design.
One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make with pathway lights is to install cheap solar lights. While the price may be enticing, these lights are usually poorly constructed and don’t provide much light even after a full day of charging. They often last just a season or two, so the need for regular replacement erases any benefit from their low prices. Instead, consider adding elegant path lighting to your overall outdoor lighting plan, using low-voltage LED lights connected to a power source. The quality of the fixtures and the diversity of styles make low-voltage wired lighting the best option for most homes.
Another mistake that beginners often make with pathway lighting is to line up parallel rows of evenly spaced lights along the edge of a walkway. It’s the obvious choice, but it can end up creating the landing strip effect, making your pathway look like an airport instead of an organic part of your landscape. Pathway lighting should draw you from light to light like stepping stones. Place the lights only as needed to create a safe path forward.
Step and Entryway Lighting
Your entryway is the most critical part of your home to illuminate. Almost every house is already fitted with some type of entryway light, whether it’s a simple porch light or recessed can lighting build into a soffit. But entryway lighting is one of the most visible types of light in your home since you pass it every time you enter or exit your home. So make it count. Don’t stick with a future just because it came with the house. Instead, incorporate your entryway lighting into your overall outdoor lighting design. Consider the architectural style of your home and look for a fixture that matches and compliments your home.
Step lighting is also a critical part of making your home safe at night. Steps are one of the most common locations for injuries from slips and falls, especially at night. Lighting stairs helps people see where they are going and prevents accidents. There are two broad categories of step lights: lights in the step and lights above the step.
Rope lighting along a railing is a popular option to illuminate a longer stairway. If a stairway is along a wall, small sconces or fixtures in the wall can provide light for safe passage. For low steps that don’t have a wall or railing, such as patio or entryway steps, a popular option is to install lights into the steps themselves. Lights are usually installed in the risers, and they can make it much easier to see where to place your feet as you climb the stairs.
One of the most critical roles outdoor lighting can play is enhancing your home security. On the most basic level, criminals are less likely to approach a well-lit home where they can easily be seen. Criminals and vandals who visit your home at night benefit from dark hiding places around your home. The more you can eliminate those dark corners, the more secure your home will be. In addition to lighting up your home, security lights attached to motion sensors can light up when a person or animal crosses onto your property. The sudden flood of light is enough to scare away criminals and wild or stray animals. For instance, if you have a problem with deer eating your vegetation at night, a sudden flash of light may scare them away.
For security, don’t forget to illuminate all approaches to your home, including the rear and sides of your house. A motion-activated floodlight in your backyard makes an excellent deterrent.
Finding an Outdoor Lighting Expert
Outdoor lighting is a specialized field that requires unique skills and years of experience. While many landscapers or electricians claim to be able to install outdoor lights, they most likely cannot help you create the effect you’re looking for. Outdoor lighting experts are familiar with the wide variety of lighting styles and fixtures as well as techniques to make your home look its best. If you’re ready to consider your outdoor lighting project, be sure to contact a TrustDALE certified outdoor lighting expert you know you can trust.