Key tips to light up your landscape.
- Choose the right size transformer for the your project. If you plan on doing your project in phases then you will want to make sure that you have room to add fixtures onto your transformer as you improve on your system.
- Pick your controls for your transformer. You can keep it basic and just use a photocell (dusk/dawn) control, mechanical timer and photocell for scheduled on/off times and ability to automatically detect daylight savings, astrological digital timers know where you are located by region and allow you to do multiple programs for more control as well as knowing dusk/dawn based off of calendar and daylight savings. If you want more technical controls for either your smart home or smart phone you can add a z-wave dimmer module or smart socket and program your on/off times through those devices.
- With any good design you don't want to see the source you want to see the effect. It is best to frame out your property and then pick all of your focus points (House, ornamental trees, art, fire pits, and water features) and then fill in with accent and area lights.
- Choose with the right fixture rating. Wet, which means they can withstand exposure to moisture (subterranean well lights & underwater lights). Subterranean well lights are great for hardscape areas where you can't install a spot light on a stake. Other areas for well lights would be for tight beds next to a wall or column.
- Light walkways and paths. Hooded (area lights), downward directed (Path Lights) prevent glare in the eyes. Area and Path Lights are best when placed 10-12' apart in a zig zag position to eliminate a runway effect. Nestle the fixtures a foot in off of the path/driveway to prevent the fixtures from getting hit or damaged by cars or equipment. A nice touch is to install Area lights in the landscape beds between your highlighted trees. It creates a transitional flow and brings out other textures and colors that you wouldn't otherwise see leaving dark spaces between subjects.
- Install dimmer switches for lights outside your main entry doors, around garage, and back door to blend in with landscape fixtures.
- Add step lights, hardscape lights, for a few lumens to help movement during nighttime hours. For step lights you want to start from the top riser and work your way down placing them on every step and or every other step. Hardscape Lights are best used when spaced out every 4-5'.
- Place doorway sconces at about eye height for effective and pleasing illumination. For a covered entry or porch, an outdoor-rated chandelier is a good option.
- Position accent lights on focal-points landscape items, including trees, fountains, art and more. Place 2-3 fixtures to cross light your subject for 3 dimensional viewing. For deciduous trees place the fixtures 1 foot in from the drip line and point towards the center, conifers will require you to pull the fixture back to illuminate the entire tree. For Columns, 80-100' conifers, flag poles place the fixture a foot off of the subject and point the fixture straight up to graze the line (Use tighter beam spreads to concentrate the light on the object).
- Position down lights high enough in your trees to go through branches to create a moonlight effect. Highlight the tree that you are downlighting from to reduce your eye finding any glare or hotspots. For pathways that are harder to place step lights and or path lights place down lights from the tree to light the tread of the step.