A properly designed landscape with appropriate outdoor lighting is a source of enjoyment for the entire family. It also enhances the utility and security of your property and adds to the resale value.
However landscape design and the design of outdoor lighting to go with it involves much more than just placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property together with a few solar lights or low voltage outdoor lights. The design process is part art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space and its lighting for human satisfaction and enjoyment. Some of the major goals of the landscape planning process include:
- Organizing and developing the site for maximum use and pleasure.
- Creating a visual relationship between the house and the site.
- Reducing landscape maintenance to a practical level.
- Planning landscape outdoor lighting that blends with and enhances the landscape
Americans spend tremendous amounts of money landscaping and lighting their businesses, homes, streets, parks, schools, etc. Unfortunately, much of this money is wasted, however, because of little or no planning. People cannot know how to landscape and light that landscape properly until they know why they landscape. There are several reasons why people landscape:
- Some think it improves the appearance and value of their property;
- Other people like to grow plants;
- Others just want their place to look aesthetically appealing.
However, these landscapes and the associated outdoor lighting unfortunately often dominate rather than serve. Masses of plants or other materials in the landscape may take up a large portion of the space and leave little room for people. Also, too often the lighting is overdone, intrusive and/or harsh. So how does the designer arrange outdoor space and the landscape lighting to complement it so that people will find it useful, appealing and functional?
The methods include:
- Observing and analyzing the habits of the people who will be using the space, including their activities, needs and how much space and light each of their activities requires.
- Studying past landscaping and landscape lighting methods.
- Surveying available materials to solve design requirements.
- Analyzing the environment of the site including the view in and around the site. The ecology of the site should be carefully analyzed since it is important in determining the design.
- Deciding which areas will be best served by outdoor lighting and which should be left un-illuminated.
With new outdoor lighting installations you may want to consider energy efficient lights such as LED outdoor lights, which have several benefits when used for garden and landscape lighting, including:
- They are low voltage and energy efficient. In other words they throw out a lot of light for not much electricity in.
- They are versatile and so can be used for a variety of outdoor lighting solutions including ambient lighting, floodlighting, walkways in fact for most applications
The good news is that the purchase costs of LED outdoor lights are now competitive with traditional landscape lights. Because LEDs are energy efficient this means the overall cost of installing and operating an outdoor lighting system is falling.
See the next article in this series for more detail on the landscape and outdoor lighting design and installation process.