Uplighting trees is dramatic and can create a focal point for the entire landscape lighting design. By comparison, downlighting is subtle and can create an inviting outdoor living space. Uplighting and downlighting can be used together on the same tree for maximum effect, or they can be used separately on different trees.
Uplighting trees is an art form that the landscape lighting contractor learns with time. Further, no two trees are the same, and how the tree is situated within the landscape design will affect how you illuminate it. Still, there are some basic rules that are helpful to refer to when you are lighting any tree in a landscape.
How to Create Uplighting
- Single accent 35°: Most small, deciduous trees only need one accent light, but it’s important to take viewing angle into account. If viewed from two angles, the tree may benefit from two accent lights.
- Canopy-aimed: The fixture should graze the trunk and point up into the canopy for maximum effect.
- Recommended fixture: Small VLO accent 35°
- Cross-lighting: While it is possible to use one 60° accent, it is better in most cases to use two 35° lights because they will direct more concentrated light into the canopy.
- Position the accent lights so they graze the trunk but are focused on the canopy.
- Recommended fixtures: One small VLO 60° or two small VLO 35°
- Different angles: A large tree (60-100 feet) will require a combination of accent lights with different angles.
- Place one 15° accent light at the base of the tree, highlighting the trunk up to the point where the branches begin.
- Place 2-3 accent lights (35° or 60°) away from the trunk pointing into the canopy.
- Place 1-2 accent lights in the canopy, pointing up.
- Tree-mount junction box required: For each light in the canopy, use a tree-mount junction box (15609AZT) with stand-off screws so the tree has room to grow. Each junction box will provide a mounting location for one accent light. Connections and wire nuts go inside the box. Run wire up the non-visible or least-visible side of the trunk and fasten it to the trunk with cable clamps, making sure that the wire can still move with the tree. Leave some extra wire at the base of the tree to allow for tree growth.
- Recommended fixtures: Large VLO 15° for the trunk, large VLO 35° or 60° for the canopy
- Total capture: Two accent lights with 60° beam spread light up the tree on two sides, creating 360° of visual interest.
- Greater distance: With firs, the fixtures should be placed farther away from the base and should shine directly onto the tree (rather than aiming up into the canopy).
- Recommended fixtures: Small or large VLO accent 35° or 60°
- Don’t be afraid to make contact: Most smaller trees will look best when the beam grazes the trunk on its way up to the canopy.
- Bring out the contrast: Narrow beam widths throw more concentrated light on the trunk, creating contrasts and drawing out shadows, variations, bark texture, knots and other features. By contrast, wide beam spreads soften details.
- Think about distance: When choosing beam angle, keep in mind that the angle will open up with distance. A beam angle that starts at 15° may open up to 20° or 30° as it reaches the canopy of a tall tree. On the other hand, a narrow beam width that hits a thick branch close to the ground may get blocked and go no further.
- Plan your viewing angles: Think about who will be viewing the lighting effects and at what angles. How will the tree appear from the street and from inside the home? More viewing angles may require more accent lights.
- Less is more: Don’t overpower your landscape features. Instead, aim to create contrast between light and shadows. An overlit tree can distract from an otherwise balanced landscape lighting design.
Downlighting makes a space inviting and delightful for social gatherings. It creates a special experience without the lighting itself being obvious. Downlighting can be installed on structures, such as pergolas or gazebos.
With a tall tree, downlighting can simulate the impression of moonlight and, with a gentle breeze, you will be able to see the shadows of branches and leaves at play on the ground. If you want to wow your customers, try enhancing one of their outdoor living spaces with downlighting.
How to Create Downlighting
Identify a large deciduous tree on the property that is a focal point of the landscape or near an outdoor living space. A large, tall tree is best, with branches that start high up, although you can use a smaller tree too.
Place one Small VLO 60° accent light at least four feet above the lowest tier of branches. About 20-25 feet from the ground is ideal. Point the accent light downward, experimenting with the right direction for creating shadows with the branches below.
You can place the light lower or higher, but you want to avoid situations where the light is buried behind too many branches or where the light is visible or blinding from below. Kichler Lighting sells a large variety of cowls that reduce the visibility of the light source.
How to Mount Your Accent Light in a Tree
The Small VLO 60° accent is ideal for downlighting because you have three lumen levels to choose from, allowing you to get the lighting mood just right. You can also experiment with the beam expander lens that is available as an accessory.
For mounting the accent light, use a tree-mount junction box (15609) with standoff screws so the tree has room to grow. The junction box will provide a mounting location for one accent light. Connections and wire nuts go inside the box. Run wire up the non-visible or least-visible side of the trunk and fasten it to the trunk with cable ties and stainless steel screws, making sure that the wire can still move with the tree. Leave some extra wire at the base of the tree to allow for tree growth.
VLO Small Flood
The Small VLO 60° accent is ideal for downlighting because you can adjust lumen levels after installation, allowing you to get the mood just right.
VLO Small Long Cowl
A long cowl for the Small VLO Accent helps to prevent the light source from being visible when looking up from the ground.
Junction Box Mounting Bracket
Tree-mount junction box is attached with standoff screws, allowing the tree to grow. Allow about two inches of growing room, if possible.
5 ways to accent trees with Outdoor Lighting
- Andrew Jones
- July 10, 2019
- Ideas / Tree Lighting
- 0 Comments
A good outdoor lighting plan is important for many reasons. It increases safety around the house, it extends teh hours you can use outside ánd creates a beautiful nighttime landscape. There is more than adding a few path lights. You have to make a plan to get the most out of it. Discuss and try different things. Maybe even ask a landscape company to assist you. Nothing wrong with that. In this article we will discuss 5 ways to accent trees, plants and shrubs with outdoor lighting.
This is one of the most common tree lighting practices. When you make use of up-lighting it will bring a dramatic effect and will work on almost any feature of your garden. You place spotlights on the ground under the tree (or plant) to highlight the branches, leaves or trunk. You can use spotlights or well-lights for the job. If you use spotlights with a narrow beam you can place them right at the base of the tree. If you want to accent larger trees it is recommended to use multiple spotlights. With larger trees don’t place them right at the base, but place them a short distance from the tree. Make sure they are aimed about 45˚ to accentuate the texture the best. Just play with the number of spotlights and with the distance till you are happy with the result.
This is actually a downlighting technique. It creates the appearance of moonlight shining at your garden. Place the lights high up in one or more trees and aim them downwards. The light will feel natural and provides a warm atmosphere. Experiment with different light types and with the amount of lights you want to place. It is also a great way to get more light in your patio. Put some lights high up in the trees and aim them at your patio or other outdoor entertaining spot.
If you are looking for depth and less shadow, cross-lighting might be the solution. With cross-lighting you place the lights a distance away on either side of a tree or shrub and aiming them directly at the foliage. This way you highlight your most attractive garden features. Cross-lighting is perfect for making larger trees more noticeable at dark nights.
Create a silhouet of your tree or shrub. This works best with interesting odd shaped trees. Just place a good lightsource behind the tree to create a dramatic silhouette. Play with the distance and angle till you are happy with the result. To add an extra dimension; make sure you don’t see the light source from people’s view.
The shadow technique is similar to silhouetting but works the other way. Put a lightsource in the front of the tree instead of behind it. Again; play with the distance and angle of the light to get the best possible shadow that you are happy with. Fun fact; if the wind blows at night, it might look like the shadow is dancing.
A well-lit landscape should have both functional and decorative light fixtures. In this outdoor space, wall sconces on the house provide adequate illumination for entertaining, while the garden fixtures and the lights strung through the trees bring a whimsical feel to the patio at night.
Photo by: HEAD Productions
Define the Purpose for Landscape Lighting
Before you invest in any landscape lighting, ask yourself what your purposes are for wanting illumination in your backyard. Perhaps you want to set a soft, romantic mood during the evening hours. Maybe you have a bench or a shadowy garden corner you need to illuminate for security reasons. A path leading through the garden may require landscape lighting to mark its boundaries. You might want to highlight some features of your backyard like a water fountain or pond.
Make a Sketch of Your Yard
After you have defined your reasons for wanting to add landscape lighting, sketch your yard. Include in the sketch existing lights, buildings, benches, trees and shrubs, as well as the vegetation and decorations in the garden. Each of these items will reflect light or absorb it. Estimate the height of each of the objects, especially the foliage.
Decide Where Landscape Lighting Should Go
Match the reason for lighting to specific locations in your backyard. You may want to illuminate a bench along the path with a pole-type lamp placed behind it. A soft mood can be achieved by hiding landscape lighting under shrubs. A path may require a series of short stake lights along its border on one side or on both sides (Image 1). A water fountain can be enhanced with a spotlight (Image 2), and a pond can have soft lighting around its perimeter.
Landscape lighting is an important safety element for any outdoor space. In this garden, a series of path lights illuminates the meandering walkway that leads to the destination terrace.
Detailed Water Feature
Resembling a Corinthian capital, this ornately carved stone water fountain is lit from below.
Determine How Much Effort You Want to Expend
The landscape lighting that requires the greatest effort to install is 120-volt lighting. Wiring for these types of garden lights must be buried at a depth of 18 inches or encased in conduit to protect it from water. A licensed electrician has to install the electrical components.
Low-voltage landscape lighting for the backyard needs only an outdoor receptacle and a transformer. The transformer converts the 120 volts coming from the household line to a usable 12 volts to operate the lights.
The easiest landscape lighting to place in the backyard is solar lighting (below). This type of lighting has no cords to be hidden. It should be positioned in such a way that the photovoltaic cell in the lighting fixture receives enough light during the day to allow it to shine at night.
green lights big
Set a Budget and Buy the Lights
Most Expensive: High-voltage landscape lighting at $100 or more per light
Information: Add on the cost of labor for the electrical contractor installing the wiring to cost of lighting for an additional fee.
Lower Cost: Low-voltage landscape lighting at $30 to $300 per light
Information: This type of lighting can easily be installed by a do-it-yourselfer.
Least Expensive: Solar lighting
Information: Since solar lights rely upon the rays of the sun and an inbuilt photovoltaic device to work, they do not necessitate installation costs or a lot of money to operate. The initial price of the solar lights is the only cost which will be incurred. Tip: If you’re lighting a darkened portion of your garden and the solar landscape light will not receive adequate sunlight during the day, you will need to have a solar panel installed in a high-sunlight location and run wiring to your solar lights.
Set Up the Lighting
If you wish to highlight a single item in your garden like a statue, gazing ball or fountain, you should consider using a few landscape lighting fixtures with lower intensity bulbs. Place these at various angles and distances. A single bright light shining directly on the object will create harsh shadows.
Landscape lights that make soft spots of light are good for garden paths. Space the lights at equal distances along the path you want illuminated.
Blue tinted lights allow for a moonlight-type mood in your garden landscape.
Southwestern Pool Area With Stone Outdoor Kitchen
Complete with swimming pool, spacious patio, landscaped pond and outdoor kitchen, this backyard is the ideal spot for outdoor entertaining. The stone kitchen area contains a grill, grand fireplace and bar area with iron barstools.
Once darkness creeps in, your yard may look a bit spooky. Thankfully, all it takes is a little creative landscape lighting to turn that spookiness into ambiance—namely, tree uplighting. In darkness, trees are imposing and lugubrious; well-lit, they’re beautiful features that give your landscape depth.
Achieving a beautiful landscape after dark isn’t only about lighting your trees; it’s about how you light them. There are certain ways to uplight your trees, as well as specific fixtures used for this type of landscape lighting. Identifying both the method and the means will give you an idea of where to start on your outdoor lighting endeavor. Here’s what you need to know.
Tree uplighting 101
There’s more to uplighting trees than you might realize. Distance from the base of the tree, the brightness of the light, and even the angle of your uplighting all play a role in how the tree looks after dark. It takes a little trial and error to figure out, but execution is simple enough once you understand all the variables involved. Here are some tips to keep in mind when uplighting a tree:
- Place the fixture at the base of the tree’s trunk and shine it up towards the tree to capture the beautiful branches, leaves and blooms above.
- Make sure the fixture is inconspicuous and that the light is an accent for the tree, not a feature by itself. Prominent fixtures can draw attention away from the tree.
- You want a soft, subtle glow that’s natural and provides ambiance, rather than a bright, menacing light that may be more of an annoyance.
- Direct the glow of the light towards the tree’s branches and not across the lawn. This ensures a dramatic effect that complements both the yard and the tree.
With these tips in mind, don’t be afraid to experiment! Change the position of your outdoor lighting fixtures, turn the intensity up or down, or fiddle with the warmness/coolness of the light. Small changes can result in stark improvements.
Tree and shrub uplighting with the right fixtures
There’s no shortage of outdoor tree uplights to choose from—but that doesn’t mean any old outdoor light will do! Keep in mind that choosing lights that are too bright or bulky can be a problem when it comes to creating a soft glow. This concept extends to all types of foliage, including trees, shrubs, bushes and ground-level plants like flowers.
Regardless of what features you illuminate or which outdoor lighting fixture you cast light with, pay attention to specifications. Purchase the right-sized transformer to properly power lights when the sun goes down.
Consider up/downlighting packages
We make it easy to bring strategic uplighting and downlighting solutions to your property—particularly for your trees and shrubs. Take a look at our convenient packages, which include absolutely everything you need to call out tree and shrub features with the perfect amount of illumination:
: This package is great as an addition to an already-lit home, or for homes in an area with a lot of big beautiful trees that deserve to be showcased. This packages is available with 6, 10 or 12 lights, making it easy to spread beautiful solar uplighting across your property. : This package not only contains everything you need to cast beautiful downlighting illumination, it also includes tree-mount accessories specifically for your greenery! Each lighting fastener is adjustable, able to scale up as your tree grows larger for consistent downlighting opportunities.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to commercial landscape lighting—especially when it comes to trees. These packages, as well as the standalone lighting options listed above, allow every homeowner to create the ideal tree and shrub lighting scene. When customization is key, these packages make it simple and straightforward to light your greenery, with results that absolutely glow.
Residential uplighting beyond trees
As mentioned, trees are one of the many features on your landscape worthy of illumination. Residential property owners also benefit from bringing this same uplighting to bushes, shrubs and other greenery. Done right, landscape lighting adds depth, dimension and a touch of personalization to your landscape.
Imagine sitting outside and relaxing while gentle uplighting shines through the trees and brings a glow to your patio, or the uplighting from bushes casts light on your walking path. A few strategically-placed lights will leave your landscape looking naturally serene! More than that, you’ll also shed light in a practical way.
Uplighting, including solar uplights, for trees and general landscape lighting for greenery do more than set the mood. They deter trespassing, keep you safe from accidents and bring you peace of mind by dispelling the darkness. A few strategic lights for perimeter bushes, featured trees or ground level plants (with wall washing) turn your property into a bastion of comfort and safety when the sun goes down.
Commercial uplighting touts practicality
Commercial properties play by a different set of rules when it comes to tree uplighting and landscape lighting for other foliage. The goal isn’t so much soft ambiance as it is attention-grabbing practicality. While tact is still important, what matters more is that people see your message.
Consider a retaining wall with the company name on it or signage installed next to a clump of trees. Without proper lighting, passersby might glaze over the landscape. Bathe the retaining wall in light or illuminate the trees nearby and suddenly, you’ve given people a reason to look! It’s the same for something like an access drive or perimeter bushes—gentle uplighting shows people the way.
There’s also size and depth to consider. Commercial properties are typically larger than residential ones. Wall washing a facility and bringing depth to landscape features helps show people the immensity of a business’ property. The benefits of proper outdoor lighting are numerous—from added security, to improved appeal, to brand awareness and more.
Start with trees, then expand your uplighting
One of the simplest ways to make a big impression on any property is to add outdoor tree uplights. They have an immediate impact as soon as the sun goes down. But don’t stop there! Uplighting has practical applications across your property—from bushes and shrubs, to retaining walls and statues. Proper lighting for various features results in a landscape that looks, feels and is complete.
Our experts here at TouchStone Accent Lighting will provide comprehensive answers to all your landscape uplighting questions. Not only can we recommend the right lighting for you, we give you tips and tricks on how to install fixtures and uplight properly, so you get the results you’re looking for.
At TouchStone, we recommend our flood lighting products, which span everything from mini focused flood lights to wide and maximum flood lighting options. Here’s a quick rundown of some ideal use-cases for seven of our most versatile uplighting products:
Do you want to make your garden more stunning? Do you want to add accent lighting to the trees in your front yard? A survey found that 78% of American adults have homes with a lawn or landscaping.
While it functions as a pastime for most, it takes work to make the perfect landscaping work for both day and night. One major factor of good landscaping is getting the right outdoor lights for trees.
To make the landscaping interesting at night you’ll need creativity. In this guide, we’ll show you seven tips on getting creative accents for your trees by using lights.
Up-Light Your Coniferous Trees
Coniferous trees make great additions to the yard since they create visual interest. As an example, the traditional Christmas tree is exciting to decorate because its broad body and tapered top draw the eye down in the most natural way.
You can bring that same interest and excitement to the coniferous tree in your front yard. Light it from the ground up to illuminate the whole tree. Its unique shape creates shadows and depth that other trees cannot.
One way to give it contrast from the other trees is to get a cool blue light. Using a bluish LED creates natural and subtle enhancements. When you add the lights, make sure you follow these maintenance tips for exterior lighting.
Bring out the Bark’s Texture
The bark of your tree is as important as its canopy. Keep it lit along with the canopy of your trees to avoid creating a UFO effect.
Highlight the bark’s color and shape to add visual interest to the trees in your yard. Trees with twisting and splitting trunks have a heavy contribution to the mood of your yard or garden. You’d often keep these features visible with up-lighting.
For example, the Silver Birch will look attractive when lit up no matter the season. White-barked trees can give your garden an urban look when lit up a certain way. The key to up-lighting is to keep your lights close to the root of your tree.
Use String Lights for a Softer Glow
String lights are a great way to add a bit of magical or romantic tone to any setting. Because of this, they are often referred to as fairy lights. They’re great for parties or for creating a cozy outdoor space.
Have you got a hammock in the backyard? Light up your new favorite spot with string lights connecting the trees you tied the hammock to. Keep the lights hanging low enough to reach you but high enough so your head doesn’t hit them.
If you’re planning a romantic backyard date, wrap the lights around the tree trunks. It might be a little cliché but it’s still quite enchanting. Putting string lights around a cluster of trees makes for a rather picture-perfect scene.
If you’ve prepared a dining table under a tree, light the area with string lights around the branches over it. Double the glow by pairing them with hanging jars of light.
If you want to avoid making the garden too Christmas-y, use neutral or warm colors. Avoid colorful LED string lights. If you must use other colors, keep them in one hue.
Light up the Pots
If you have smaller, younger, and potted trees, give them their own LED pots. The contrast between the dark tree and lit-up pot goes best with gardens aiming for a magical theme.
These pots are some of the more mobile outdoor lights for trees. Most brands sell them in changeable colors. Choose from any color on the RGB scale, depending on the occasion or your mood.
They’re great as guides for paths. Since they’re waterproof, they work well as lights on the far side of a pool, too. If you’ve got a wooden fence, place these pots against them to create ambient background lighting.
Illuminate Your Paths with Down-Lights
If you have a big fancy garden, you likely have a path that winds around it. Give the path a combination of light and natural shadows with down-lights. This technique also works with patios, walkways, and driveways.
This is one of the best ways to accent mature trees. Pair it up with up-lit smaller trees in the background. This style creates an ambient light that’s great for spacious yards and driveways.
Indirectly-lit paths are also great deterrents for burglars. Since they know they can get spotted before they even come near your house, burglars will avoid targeting your home. This is useful for those who live in states with high rates of burglary like New Mexico.
Create Focal Points on Your Garden
Trees in the middle of the yard or garden can tie the whole landscaping together. If you decide to make the oak tree your garden’s centerpiece, you need to use the right lighting.
Before you proceed you to decide whether it needs one-sided lighting or multi-sided lighting. Do you want to create a dramatic effect or a soft glow? Knowing how to optimize your lighting can create an arresting sight.
One way to make it a focal point is to use two or more spotlights to create a cross-beam of light directed at the tree. Put the spotlights further away from the tree than the typical up-lighting distance. When you aim the spotlights at the tree, be sure the beams don’t hit you or your neighbors’ windows.
Set up Party Lights for the Patio
If you plan to host a small evening party, it would be wise to consider some extra illumination. Good weather and the full moon won’t always be around to light up your events. Keep the party area lit with some tree-mounted down-lights.
Using warm colors will set a nice, cozy mood. It’s also a great way to provide light for your grill, as well. To give it more charm, pair it up with lively string lights around tree trunks.
A set of lunar 20-watt halogen lights is bright enough to create light akin to a dim afternoon. If you want to create a moonlit patio, get down-lights in cool colors. You can use these lights as safety measures for guests who aren’t familiar with your yard.
Enjoy Outdoor Lights for Trees Today
Brighten up your yard with our guide for outdoor lights for trees. Now you can host a garden or patio party without worrying about it getting dim.
Smart money handling is a big factor in getting the best lighting for your budget. Since they’ll be near plants, make sure you get quality light fixtures that don’t overheat. Good landscaping boosts the value of your property for future resale.
Check out our blog for more helpful content on lighting. We give free consultations for landscape and interior lighting. If you have any questions, feel free to call us!
With spring’s arrival just around the corner you should take a look at your home roof, does it need repairs? If so contact Roofco and they will help you. You may be wondering how to liven up your outdoor space. One of the ways this can be accomplished is by accenting your very own yard, starting with your cladding . Trees can provide an oasis of shade during the day, so why not highlight them in the evening to create an even more inviting scene at night? Many of our clients also looking for driveway gates, for that we recommend driveway gates perth .
I sat down with one of our seasoned outdoor lighting designers, Scott Moberly, to discuss the affect that accent lighting your trees can have on your property and why it’s important. Here are some of the things he said:
Q: Why do you recommend outdoor tree lighting when creating a design for a client?
Scott: At night, illuminated trees can do an excellent job creating the “walls” of your outdoor “room.” In most landscapes, trees are some of the most dramatic and central structures and features, so focusing on them makes sense if you want to really liven up your back yard when creating an evening scene.
Q: How do you choose which trees to highlight in a yard full of trees?
Scott: When choosing which trees to highlight, I key in on ornamental trees to create focal points throughout the landscape. I’ll also factor in the larger, more mature trees in a yard because they can create a “ceiling” effect when illuminated.
Q: Do you use different lighting techniques depending on the size and type of tree?
Scott: Depending upon the size of the yard and the types of trees we are working with, I will use varying techniques. For instance, I’ll illuminate the interior of the tree which can create a dramatic structure at night. I’ll also work with utilizing cooler tones in the canopies of deciduous trees or on evergreens to allow the colors of the foliage to “pop” at night.
Q: How does accent lighting trees in a yard add to the overall landscape scene?
Scott: Accenting trees adds so much to the overall lighting scene. Whether Maples, Crepe Myrtles, Holly varieties, or Evergreens, illuminating them can make a big backyard feel more intimate, or a smaller backyard like a fuller outdoor room. Accent lighting your home’s trees in the front, back or side yard makes an otherwise dark yard at night an inviting landscape to come home to. We are also using Geologic Exploration technology software to see and visualize the landscape. For more inquiries, you can visit the locksmith in brooklyn .
Posted by Chris H. on 9th Apr 2014
Highly visible large trees such as live oaks often act as visual anchors for many landscape lighting designs. Properly illuminating enormous trees can be visually powerful and keep architectural objects in line with your overall lighting design.
- Big trees (50’-70’) pose a great challenge when trying to illuminate the upper canopy and the inner structure.
- Most trees are leafy and have dense canopies that make it hard for light rays to pass past the first few lower branches and light up the top leaves in such a way that the illumination can be seen from below.
- Large trees with dense canopies demand multiple light fixtures (7-15 or more) to illuminate the tree both on the inside and the outside, which can be really expensive.
- To highlight and display the intended features, big trees need brighter light sources for an evenly visible illumination.
Illuminating large trees follows a two-stage process that starts by first lighting the trunk then the branches and finally getting enough light to the outer leaves of the tree so that its shape and fullness can be seen clearly. A few groups of fixtures need to be placed at about 5-6’ from the tree’s base. The above fixtures will aid in illuminating the internal branching structure of the tree. Some instances may require that you remove some branches, so enough light is able to penetrate and display the main features of the tree. The next set of lights must be positioned on the outer surface (8-12’ beyond the outer drip line), to light up the outer leafy canopy.
- Inner branching: the most appropriate lamps for illuminating the interior branches include 10w, PAR36 and 13w 60-degree lamps.
- Outer canopy: the most suitable lamps for lighting up the annex canopy include PAR36, 10w and 13w 30-degree lamps. The 30-degree lamps is more suitable for outer canopies simply because it has a more powerful center beam than a 60-degree lamp.
Remember that big trees may vary in both size and shape. Each tree must be approached artistically, basing your judgment on its size and shape to determine the number of fixtures that each individual tree requires. The branching mechanism and the shape of the branches are also key feature that influence the number of fixtures to be used.
Add the finishing touch to your exterior spaces with well-planned outdoor landscape lighting.
When it comes to lighting your landscape, a little goes a long way. That's because your eyes need less light outdoors than they do indoors in order to see light, shadow, and pattern. To plan your outdoor landscape lighting, start with a walk around your yard at night. Envision how and when you want to use your outdoor spaces, and tailor your landscape lighting to suit those needs. When you're ready to choose the fixtures and layout, use these landscape lighting ideas, including tips for the best placement and how to avoid common issues, for a well-lit outdoor space you can enjoy long after dark.
Landscape Lighting Basics
How light is seen during the day is different from how it is seen at night, a particularly important distinction when it comes to lighting pathways and other outdoor spaces. However, certain principles about lighting remain true indoors and out.
For starters, light has intensity, or quantity emitted, and color. The color of a particular lightbulb can be found on the packaging; it is a number that ranges from 1800 kelvins (K), which is very red in tone, to 7500 K, which is a bluish-white.
Whether indoors or outdoors, lighting is generally divided into three layers based on function:
- Overall lighting: Overall light provides illumination for a whole room or space.
- Task lighting: Task lighting is used for a specific purpose, such as to light a path.
- Accent lighting: Accent lighting draws attention to an object or area. This is usually accomplished with spotlights or floodlights.
A variety of lightbulbs are suitable for outdoor light fixtures.
- Incandescent bulbs emit pleasing light but have a short life and consume more electricity.
- Halogen bulbs are more efficient versions of incandescents, typically with a longer life and less energy consumption.
- Fluorescent bulbs are now available in a more pleasing color range, last much longer, and consume less energy.
- While LED landscape lighting can be more expensive, the lightbulb costs (which continue to decline) are balanced by their extraordinarily long life and extremely low energy consumption.
Landscape lights that are located near a building with electricity can easily be integrated into your home's wiring system. Solar landscape lighting is another option for an eco-friendly way to power your outdoor lights.
Outdoor Landscape Lighting Issues and Fixes
Outdoor lighting issues differ from those of indoor light. For example, reflection is less an issue outdoors because most surfaces are dark and do not reflect light well. However, position and shielding are more important in outdoor landscape lighting in order to prevent glare.
Glare happens when a light source is too big or too bright; it can be blinding because it reflects directly in people's eyes. Outdoor landscape lighting also needs to be particularly sensitive to direct versus indirect light. Direct outdoor landscape light, such as a downlight outside a side entry door, will brighten mostly the object it is directed at and little of the surroundings. Indirect light reflects on the surrounding surfaces to create a soft wash.
There are a number of options for outdoor lighting. One such option is down lighting. Think of how moonlight illuminates the trees and other features of your garden with its cool, soft light. Outdoor down lighting does the same and it’s a quick, relatively inexpensive way to turn a run of the mill backyard into something magical and mysterious. Read on to learn how to use down lighting in landscapes.
What is Down Lighting?
Down lighting is simply lighting up your garden with lamps that are angled down, not up. When you place lamps above an object instead of below it, the result imitates natural light.
This is especially true when the light fixture is concealed in a tree or underneath some element of hardscaping. All a garden visitor sees is the warm glow without being able to determine where it comes from. This is especially beautiful when down lighting trees.
Down Lighting vs. Uplighting
Most gardeners thinking about outdoor lighting weigh down lighting vs. uplighting. Each type of lighting gets its name from the direction the light is angled.
- If the light is placed above the element to be illuminated, it is down lighting.
- When the light is below the focus element, it is uplighting.
Many homes employ both outdoor lighting methods in the landscape, and both have their place.
Using Down Lighting in Landscapes
Outdoor down lighting works well to bring night-time attention to shorter bushes, flower beds, and attractive ground cover. Used beneath seating walls and benches, outdoor down lighting lights up the hardscaping element but also illuminates nearby walkways.
This kind of outdoor down lighting makes nighttime garden use safer and more secure. Downlighting on steps prevents falls by making them easier to see at night.
If your house has a large outdoor living area in the backyard, your best way of illuminating it is from above. Remember that the higher up you place a lamp, the larger the circle of light it sheds. You can create circles of any size by varying the height of the lamp.
Down Lighting Trees in the Landscape
If you place a light in a tree and angle the lamp down, it illuminates the ground below rather like moonlight. The branches and leaves of the tree create moving shadows on the patio or lawn. In fact, down lighting trees by placing lights high in their branches is also known as moonlighting.
Updated gardens and walkways with plants, rocks, water features and ornaments may be stunning by day, but nearly invisible by night. Custom landscape lighting that is tailored to your project can enhance your current features while creating greater ambiance and safety in your garden landscape and along walkways and paths.
With landscape lighting ideas and lighting systems, TouchStone Accent Lighting boasts more than 25 years’ experience in crafting residential and commercial outdoor lighting solutions for all dimensions and budgets while helping our clients illuminate their landscaping. From shrub lighting to statue lighting, we can customize a garden lighting solution for flower gardens of leafy ground cover as well as a design concept that will work as your garden continues to bloom and grow into the future. TouchStone can also craft an outdoor lighting plan for curvy, straight, flat and steep walkways, sidewalks or driveways to take advantage of your current landscape.
LED lighting for gardens and walkways is ideal for both residential and commercial projects. Energy-efficient and affordable, LED lights also offer smaller size and a longer lifetime as well as excellent durability for landscape lighting projects.
Our illuminologists are experts at developing garden and walkway lighting plans based on your preferred style, color and budget. TouchStone Accent Lighting provides consultation, ongoing maintenance and creative options to enhance and brighten your outdoor spaces with accent lighting and security lighting.
Landscape Tree Lighting: The Best Options for Lighting Your Trees and Shrubs
Whether you have a few statement trees dotting your home or business landscaping or more of a wild forest in your backyard, landscape tree lighting can make the most of your trees and shrubs.
With targeted tree lighting, you can highlight natural beauty, enhance safety and make your landscaping shine. A lighting designer can help you add value and visual interest through a landscape tree lighting plan that takes advantage of techniques such as tree uplighting, floodlights, spotlights and accent lights.
Contact a lighting designer today for a free consultation to learn more about the best landscape lighting ideas to brighten your spaces with outdoor landscape light.