Think about what you want to light up and why before you invest in any outdoor landscape lighting. If you want to make your patio more festive for evening entertaining, here are some ideas. Do you have any areas on your property that are dark and need to be illuminated for safety reasons? Or is there a pathway leading from your driveway to your door that is dangerous because it’s too dark? Your home’s curb appeal can be improved by adding lighting that highlights its features. This can make your home look more stylish and classy.
How Much Does Landscape Lighting Cost?
The cost of landscape lighting will vary depending on the type of lighting you choose and if you require professional installation. There are of course other factors that play a role in this decision such as the size of your yard and what kind of lighting you have already set up.
Can I Install My Own Landscape Lighting?
This is determined by the type of lighting you select and its location. If you’re replacing an existing electrical fixture, you can probably do it yourself. However, if you’re installing a new fixture where there never was one, you’ll probably need to hire a professional. There are a lot of low-voltage and solar options available that make it possible to do it yourself. If you aren’t sure you can do something, it is probably best to ask someone who is more experienced. You don’t want to mess up electrical work because it can be dangerous and expensive. If you are replacing or installing a new gas fixture, you will need to have a professional plumber or gas lighting specialist do the job.
Making an Outdoor Lighting Plan
A lighting designer can help your community follow lighting codes to prevent light pollution. Municipalities across the country have been enacting outdoor lighting ordinances in recent years, so you may not be aware that your municipality has these regulations. (For more light pollution initiatives, check out the Dark Sky Association .) A good lighting designer will know the electrical codes, what type of lighting meets those codes and be able to help you with the placement of the lighting.
Making a sketch of your yard can help you match the purpose of the lighting to a specific location. Make a sketch of the existing lights, buildings, benches, trees, and shrubs, as well as the vegetation and decorations in the garden. Each of these items will transmit, reflect, or absorb light. Please estimate the height of the objects, paying special attention to the height of the foliage.
Don’t forget to include dimmers in your lighting plan. Dimmers can also be installed with outdoor lighting, just like indoor lighting. Bright outdoor lights can be unpleasant and not always necessary. If you plan on having a lot of people over or if your kids are going to be playing basketball in the driveway, you might want to turn the lights up to full capacity. Dimmers will give you the option to do this for only a slight increase in cost.
120 volt lighting requires the most effort to install out of all types of landscape lighting. The wiring for these types of garden lights must be buried at a depth of 18 inches or encased in conduit in order to protect it from water damage. A licensed electrician must install the electrical components.
To install low-voltage landscape lighting, you will need an outdoor receptacle and a transformer. The transformer steps down the 120 volts from the household line to a safe 12 volts to operate the lights.
Solar lighting is the easiest landscape lighting to place in the backyard. This kind of lighting doesn’t have any wires that need to be hidden. In order to get the most out of solar lighting, the photovoltaic cell needs to be positioned in a way that allows it to receive enough sunlight during the day. This way, it will be able to shine throughout the night.
Landscape Lighting Trends
Find out what’s new and popular in the world of landscape lighting.
- Portable lighting We’re talking more than just lanterns, candles and tiki torches. LED wireless “lamps” come in a variety of sizes and shapes — cubes, globes or oval river rocks are the most common. These glowing orbs and cylinders can serve as art or furniture as well as lighting. Many of these lights run on smart technology so you can program timing, color and brightness. Plus, they are waterproof so go ahead and place them poolside or in a water feature. Other portable options to keep an eye out for are floor lamps, table lamps and hanging lightbulbs — these are portable lightbulbs that you can hang on a hook, perfect for camping.
- High-end fixtures that look like fancy indoor lighting: Whereas a lot of landscape lighting is hidden, front porch lanterns, sconces and overhead fixtures are out in the open for all to see. So, homeowners are splurging on more stylized lighting that makes a statement and heightens the home’s architecture.
- Color changing lights: Lighting up your landscape in various hues for holidays and special occasions is easier than ever. Options range from bulbs to fixtures. They are DIY friendly, often Bluetooth enabled and most operate off a remote or app. There are several low-voltage and solar path lighting kits, spotlights, outdoor lamps and even 100’ long LED strip lights that can be programmed to flash to the beat of your music. Smart LED color-changing lightbulbs start around $15 and can be installed into most existing fixtures.
- Moonlighting: This type of lighting came on the scene a few years ago and is still gaining in popularity. Moonlighting is downward-facing floodlights that are meant to mimic natural moonlight. It is most often placed high — about 20’ to 25’ — in a tree to cast dappled light through the tree’s canopy. This type of lighting is more about being attractive and setting a mood and less about safety or security.
- Dark-sky-friendly lighting: Light pollution makes it impossible or nearly impossible to see the night sky in populated areas. Plus, too much artificial light can affect human health, wildlife and is a waste of energy. Many communities are implementing dark sky initiatives and codes to regulate light pollution. Dark-sky-friendly lighting is shielded (points downward) and contains minimal blue light. Blue lights brighten the sky more than any other color. The International Dark Sky Association (DSA) suggests using lighting that is warm or a lower color temperature — no more than 3,000 Kelvins (the higher the Kelvin, the bluer it is). When shopping for new lighting, look for the Dark Sky Approved seal. The DSA provides a list of manufacturers that sell dark-sky-approved products.
- Hardscape lighting : Over the last few years homeowners are increasingly investing in their outdoor living spaces. They’re building more permanent hardscaping like retaining walls, staircases, fireplaces and outdoor kitchens. So, it only makes sense that they’re going to integrate lighting into these structures. Hardwiring the hardscaping as it is being built is the ideal situation, but if that’s not an option, it is likely that low-voltage and solar lighting can be retro-fitted.
Upon completion of the work, (if requested beforehand) the Contractor shall prepare an as-built drawing of the system indicating:
- Junction Box Locations
- Fixture Locations
- Wire Run Locations
- Transformer Locations
- Controller Location
The as-built drawing must be proportionally and diagrammatically correct.
Excavation and Backfill
Pull Boxes and Junction Boxes
Use approved type pull and/or junction boxes for conduit systems installed outdoors. The boxes mentioned above shall be accessible at all times. The size of the required pull boxes shall be based on Rule 12-3042 of the C.E.C.
Tree Wiring: Procedures
In-Ground Routing and Depth of Conduits and Wire
- Run all conduits parallel to existing main roots anywhere inside “Drip Line” of tree.
- Burial depth as per code where possible.
- Extreme caution to be taken when excavating within 1.3M of tree trunk, so as not to injure tree “buttress flair” root structure.
- All grade mounted fixtures and mounting stakes located so as to allow for normal plant growth with special attention paid to protecting roots and “buttress flair” root structure from poTree Work/Plant SelectionTrees to be selected for lighting installation are to be in healthy, vigorous, growing condition, free of structural deficiencies and free of disease and decay.Location and RoutingAll wire, hardware and fixtures are to be located so as to allow for “normal” plant growth twith special attention paid to:
- Do not mount hardware or fixtures and do not route wire through any “branch or trunk unions.”
- Do not encircle any branch or trunk with wire or any other hardware.
- Keep a minimum of 12” between all new and existing installations of tree hardware.
Above Grade Wire Protection
- All wire to be protected by P.V.C. conduit or water resistant flexible conduit (liquid tite) to a minimum of 8’ above grade.
- Low voltage lines carrying over 100 VA (sample) to be installed as above.
- All connections to be made in approved junction boxes.
- Low Voltage – 12 Gauge, 2 Wire, UV Rated Coating.
- Line Voltage – 12 Gauge, N.M.W.U. or S.J.T.W.
- All fastening hardware to be corrosion resistant or made of non-corrodible materials.
- Conduits are to be secured to tree with normal clips and hardware.
- Wire to be fastened with galvanized wire staples which have stand off nubs.
- Do not drive staples into tree past the stand-off nubs so as to squeeze wire but instead leave wire loose so as to allow for tree sway, tree growth, and wire expansion and contraction.
- Leave a 12” slack or service loop at each junction or fixture to allow for wire “play” and for servicing or relocation.
Mounting Fixtures, Junction Boxes and Ballasts
- All to be mounted with a “stand off’type galvanized lag bolt, minimum diameter 3/8”, leaving a minimum of 1” between limb and fixture.
- Pre-drill all holes for bolt installation to bolt shank diameter.
- Limbs for fixture installation to be of sufficient size (minimum 2” diameter) and strength to support fixture and hardware installation.
Tree Wiring: Maintenance
- A yearly inspection and maintenance of all tree installations is an absolute must and all customers should be made aware of this fact at the time of purchasing system.
- As determined at time of inspection such procedures as follows will be necessary from time to time:
- “Back-Off’ any screw type fastening hardware so as to accommodate tree growth.
- Cut off existing wire-mounting staples and install new staples as required to accommodate tree growth.
- Relocate or re-secure grade mounted fixtures so as to accommodate for plant (including root) growth and climatic effects.
- All electrical installations in trees should conform with the Occupational Health and Safety Act which requires a minimum clearance of 10’from any existing electrical utility or energized conductor.
- Installation personnel, when climbing over 3metres above ground level, must use climbing equipment and techniques which conform with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and which are C.S.A. approved.
- It is strongly recommended that personnel who are involved in the design and installation of tree mounted lighting systems be well versed in arboriculture as it applies to tree identification, growth habits and care.
Outdoor wall sconces, which are often cylinder-shaped, can direct a beam of light to a specific area. Some flashlights come with two lights- one that faces upward and another that faces downward. These lights are ideal for an entryway or on either side of a garage because they provide both focused light on an exterior wall and enough light to see by in the dark.