days inspire us to spend more time outdoors entertaining, gardening or
just meditating amid the sounds of nature. But enjoying the outdoors
doesnít have to end when the sun goes down. The use of appropriately
placed lighting can help you make the maximum use of outdoor spaces.
Deciding how you
want to use different parts of your yard helps you make decisions
about lighting. For example, you might wish to light your patio, but
you also may want to illuminate a dark area for safetyís sake.
"There are three main reasons to light the outdoors: aesthetics,
safety and security," says Jeff Hirschberger, landscape architect
with David J. Frank Landscape Contracting Inc. in Germantown.
recommends taking the subtle approach. "When it comes to outdoor
lights, I believe less is more. You donít want your backyard lit up
like an airport landing strip, and it doesnít take as many lights as
you might think to illuminate an area," he says. For example, you
can use direct lighting over a barbecue grill or food preparation
area, but consider indirect lighting for other areas. "I prefer
indirect light because it isnít as harsh. Instead of aiming lights
directly at an area, you can place them under seating areas and along
railings or arbors."
architect Chris Miracle of LandWorks in Sussex also adheres to the
concept of using fewer, strategically placed lights. "You want to
avoid hot spots that come from spotlights or very bright lights. You
can hide lights behind or among plants or place them beneath
trees," he says.
does more than just brighten the exterior of your home for
entertainment purposes, it adds a layer of safety, Hirschberger says.
"Lights can be placed along pathways where people will be
walking, to ensure safe footing. Any place you have uneven terrain or
stairs can be lit. Lighting also elevates the security around a home.
If there are dark or even wooded areas on your property, you can
strategically place lights that will deter a would-be intruder."
Consider post-mounted outdoor lamps for dark sidewalks or doorsteps,
or motion-activated flood lights to improve personal security.
days, outdoor lighting is affordable and available in a wide range of
styles and finishes, giving homeowners plenty of choices. Landscape
lighting typically includes standard electric lighting wired into the
electrical system of the home, low-voltage lighting and LED lights, as
well as solar lights. "I like to use a combination of ground
lights, path lights and accent lights," Miracle says.
lights are currently the most popular choice for outdoor lighting,
Miracle says. However, that is changing to LED lights as they improve
in quality. "The industry is shifting to LED. They donít have
that bluish look to them any longer. They are more expensive, but they
pay for themselves after several years of use," he says. Solar
lights are an option, but neither Miracle nor Hirschberger recommends
them. "They just donít give off much useful light, and I havenít
seen any real improvement," Hirschberger says.
completely different, try a Toto Cube lamp or the egg-shaped Uovo
lamp. Large in size ó about 18 to 24 inches tall ó and made of
polyethylene, these lights use incandescent bulbs, but they offer an
ethereal light that glows from the inside.
a lot of things people can do to give their yards a unique look,"
Miracle says. With the wide variety of fixtures and types of outdoor
lighting now available, homeowners are limited only by their