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Illuminate Your Masterpiece

Many people spend large amounts of money and time landscaping their outdoor spaces. Why not light it up at night to extend the time available to enjoy all of that hard work? Exterior home and garden lighting is a form of art that adds a whole new dimension to the landscape. Illumination can transform outdoor spaces and enhance the entire property. The effect is similar to adding sparkling jewelry to your home.

When developing a lightscape, consider safety and security as well as aesthetic beauty. Light to enhance the safety of the property can consist of features like directing attention to steps and changes in elevation. Light can direct the flow of traffic by highlighting walkways and emphasizing dangers like the edge of a water feature. Security lighting can include elements like floodlights with motion detectors to illuminate doorways, garages, and dark places where intruders can lurk. By far the most dramatic impact comes from the light we use in the landscape.

A great way to get started is to visit the space after dark with a flashlight to experiment with light from different angles and locations. Some techniques to try that will yield amazing results include: spotlighting a piece of art or a unique plant to emphasize the object; down-lighting from above by placing lights high in a trees or above a patio; up-lighting a tree by placing a spot light on the ground pointing up to draw attention to the shape; and cross-light a feature in the garden by pointing two floodlights at the same object from two different directions. Reflecting light off of a surface behind an object creates a silhouette and a shadow effect can be produced by lighting an object from the front to create a shadow on the surface behind it. Do not forget about underwater lighting; the effect of water is often lost after dark without adequate light. Consider lighting a spray of water from a fountain or placing a light beneath the surface of a pond for a soft glow. Experiment with using different colors and watch as the light changes with the movement of water. Two more important things to consider: be careful that your directional lights are light changes with the movement of water. Two more important things to consider: be careful that your directional lights aresituated so that they do not shine in anyone’s eyes as they move thru the garden, and be aware of how light in your lightscape will affect the neighbor’s property.

There is a large assortment of lights to choose from on the market and prices range from very affordable upward to thousands of dollars. The most popular do it yourself lights are the environmentally friendly solar products and energy conserving low voltage lighting, although candles and lanterns are still very trendy and can be used in addition to other lighting fixtures with a great deal of success.

When lighting a landscape, keep in mind that the landscape will change over time and the lighting plan will need to adapt. Trees and shrubs will mature and planting beds will be reconfigured over time making it necessary to adjust the light plan periodically. Remember to keep the lightscape subtle; you do not want your yard to resemble a crime scene.

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