Light Up Your Nightscape with Smart Outdoor Lighting

November 03, 2020

We have to admit, nighttime strolls through the neighborhood are a favorite activity. There is something magical about gardens at night. The play of light and shadows lends an artistic beauty and a little bit of mystery to plants and foliage and pathways. And we love homes with outdoor lighting that gives architectural details a dramatic appearance. We also find well-lit yards and homes to be comforting. Outdoor lights cast away the darkness, add a measure of safety, and increase a home’s security.

Can you tell we love outdoor lighting? It is something we can get pretty excited about, and we always enjoy sharing ideas on how to light up a landscape. Here are some of our top insider tips!

  • Well-designed outdoor lighting is a mix of artistry and practicality.

You put a lot of thought and effort into making your yard beautiful and functional, so why not put the same thought and effort into your lighting. Start by focusing on the aesthetic you are after, the benefits a little extra light can provide, and the safety and security issues lighting can help solve.

For instance, you might ask yourself what are the different features you want to highlight? How do you want to use your outdoor spaces at night? What pathways are commonly used after dark? Do you want security lighting? The answers to these questions will help you map out the lighting you need in your yard and from there you can look at the different options available to fit those needs.

  • Install a unified lighting system with controls.

Pathway markers, porchlights, architectural lighting, uplighting, downlighting, water-feature lighting… the list goes on. There are a multitude of options and they can either work together or work independently. We prefer lighting that works in tandem as one unified system with one set of controls.  A single system is easier to install and expand, maintain, and operate than individual lights added over time, plus it improves the overall aesthetic of the lights.

Control lighting also allows you to create different lighting zones with greater flexibility in how those zones are used. You might choose to enjoy all zones until you go to bed, and then only use the security zones through the night. Or save energy by only lighting the spaces that are being used at any given time. More advanced control lighting schemes allow you to control zones as well as the intensity of each group of lights in the system.

We recommend FX Luminaire’s Luxor ZD System. This cutting-edge system allows control via a downloadable app, boosting convenience and remote security. It even has theme settings that allow the system to illuminate different parts of the property at different times. Each light is adjustable, and you can control everything from an app on your phone!

  • Maximize energy efficiency with LED lights.

Yes, you can use solar lights, and in some parts of the country, solar is a viable consideration. Here in the Pacific Northwest, solar is not necessarily the best choice. We prefer LED lighting which offers a lot of great benefits over incandescent or even solar. LEDs are extremely efficient so the impact on your power bill will be minor and the ongoing cost from changing bulbs will almost be eliminated. The average lifespan of LEDs is 40,000 hours, which should give you 18 to 20 years of run time from a single bulb. No more running to the store for replacements!

LED lighting has come a long way from the too-bright, too-white, bulbs that were first introduced. Modern LEDs are softer in tone and capable of providing gorgeous, natural-looking light. They also offer a range of colors and color combinations to suit a broad range of styles or dramatic effects.

Have an existing system? No problem. You can retrofit your existing lighting with drop-in LED lights. This option is a great alternative to full fixture replacement and provides all the same benefits.

  • Avoid these common pitfalls.

Outdoor lighting should be an extension of your home and should marry well with your landscape. You want your lighting to look like it has always been there and not have it appear as an afterthought. Your lighting should accentuate the features in your yard, not detract or add visual clutter. An experienced landscape designer and outdoor lighting expert can help you pull it all together. But if you chose to do it on your own, make sure you avoid these mistakes: 

  • No variety. All spotlights or all up lights will create an off-balanced look.
  • The runway effect—path lights are too symmetrical.
  • Hard borders and stark divisions. Aim to create balanced light throughout the yard, while drawing the eye to the features of your choosing.
  • Over the top, or garish lighting that draws attention to itself rather than to your landscape.

A good lighting system will blend artistry and functionality and will allow you to enjoy your outdoor living area to its maximum potential. The experienced lighting pros at Landscape East & West can help you design a system that is right for your yard, your personal style, and your budget. Give us a call today to discuss how we can help design and install your outdoor lighting solution.