Sustainable design is on everyone’s mind these days. For both interior designers and landscape designers, there is an increasing emphasis on making ecologically responsible design decisions. Materials are chosen not only for their appearance, but for their carbon footprint; how much energy they use over the course of their lifespan. This sometimes translates into interesting and unexpected design ideas, both in the home and in the yard.
This focus on sustainable, or green, design has also impacted the landscape lighting industry. In particular, recent trends include significant use of LED lights and solar powered lighting. Homeowners will find this has resulted in new and exciting ideas and products for the home landscape.
LED Lights in the Landscape
Light-emitting diode, or LED, light bulbs are much smaller and brighter than traditional light bulbs, while using much less energy. Just a few watts of power can light up a long string of bulbs. Rope lights, clear plastic tubing with a series of lights inside, are a fun use of LED technology. Tucked under the edge of a deck, handrail or step, these subtle lights can be both unobtrusive and dramatic.
Walkways and paths can be lit much more efficiently and safely with LED lights. A larger number of low level lights creates more even lighting than a smaller number of high wattage, bright lights.
Lighting the Ground, Not the Sky
With the extent of outdoor roadway, street and building lights present today, in many places, it can be difficult to truly see the stars in the nighttime sky. This is why we opt for subtle lights that diffuse long before they disrupt a black night sky.
Pathway and walk lights will typically have caps or hats directing light toward your feet, not your face.
Softer light is often the most effective approach for the landscape. Harsh, bright lights create a lot of contrast, making it difficult to see beyond the immediate circle of light. A softly lit patio or garden gazebo is a more pleasant place to be on a summer evening. Consult with a professional lighting designer to figure out the best light levels and effects for your landscape.
Enhancing Your Architecture
Gone are the days of bright overhead lights above your entry door, letting the interest of your architecture get completely lost in the darkness. Subtle lighting from lower points on the home can give enough light to guide you in and out safely, while bringing texture to your home (rather than the flattening effect of strong exterior lights).
A hidden benefit of this kind of gentle home spotlighting is that it creates fewer dark shadows around a home where trespassers could be easily concealed.
Giving an Overlooked Feature a Chance to Shine
That tree in your backyard that nobody pays much attention to? The one that seems boring during the daylight while it’s surrounded by colourful flowers and vibrant shrubs?
It’s unique geometry makes it a striking focal point for the evening. When illuminated, the shadows that are created can be quite dramatic, bringing forth a feature that might otherwise me overlooked.
Don’t Lose your Curb Appeal when the Sun Goes Down
The presence of this new technology means you can creatively light much of your landscape with very little impact on your electric bill. Underwater lights for fountains or pools and lights for decks, patios, paths and individual trees are only a few of the possibilities.
Landscape lights will make your backyard an enjoyable place to be at night. Contact us if you’d like to start getting more out of your property.