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Lighting in the Landscape has Multiple Benefits

Sunday, November 12, 2023

For many homeowners, the main focus of a landscape is the plants. While trees, shrubs and flowers are the main attraction, lighting can also play a big role in the aesthetics of the landscape.


Lighting not only can expand the amount of time homeowners can spend in the landscape, but it also adds an element of home security and safety. 


When considering the addition of lighting to the landscape, look at the areas of the landscape that are used the most. Pick out areas that would be enhanced with the addition of lighting and those that should be lit for safety considerations, such as steps and walkways. Something else to consider is the view of the landscape from inside the home. What outdoor areas would look nice from the inside if they were illuminated?


Something else to keep in mind is whether the lighting will be professionally installed or it will be a do-it-yourself project. For those looking for runway-type lighting – lights that lead up to a door or outline a driveway or flower bed – there are kits available at the local garden or box store that can meet your needs. However, for those looking for other aspects of the landscape to be lit, consider a component-type system of lighting. Low-voltage lighting is a good way to go and is easier to install and more flexible than hard-wired lighting. It all depends on the budget.


Different types of lighting serve different purposes. Pathway lighting is usually the only type of lighting where the fixture is designed to be seen and is more ornate. For some homeowners, the overall goal may be to light up areas without seeing where the light is coming from. This is called backlighting and consists of lighting a wall or other structure behind a plant so that the outline of the plant is seen. This can create a dramatic look in the landscape and works well with plants that have an open, interesting structure, such as Japanese maples.


Another lighting option is uplighting, which is lighting an object from below by placing the fixture on the ground in front of the plant or object. Uplighting can light up a wall or used for more of a spotlight effect on certain plants or structures in the landscape. 


If your home features a deck, consider installing deck lighting. This is installed low to the ground, so no one is looking into the bulbs when seated. The goal is to bathe the area in light, which is great for safety purposes in addition to ambiance.


The nighttime landscape also needs to include the right plants. When selecting plants, choose those with white or pale flowers because the lighter colors are better able to reflect light. Also, consider plants that open only at night or have a stronger scent at night. Plants with silver foliage work well, as do plants with white variegation.

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