The important part of landscape lighting is the planning of what you want as an end result. With this in mind the landscape lighting could dictate the final landscape planting.
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You spend all that time creating a masterpiece garden that the neighbors will envy. Ooops. You just realize you forgot to install the landscape lighting. The best time to plan a good landscape lighting design is when you are planning your garden layout.
Landscape lighting design can be a simple lighting layout or a work of art blending nature with artificial light, incorporating color, shape and texture. You choose. What looks ordinary and dull during the day can be transformed into rich color during the darker hours of night. The nature of landscape lighting demands versatility. With a wide variety of different surfaces and objects to be illuminated the type of light and its placement needs to be considered very carefully.
Gather Your Ideas
Go over your garden design and decide on the objects, plants or trees you want to highlight with. If you have one prominent feature in one part of the garden such as a large tree or a sculpture then you can concentrate your lighting on that object and have low level ground lighting surrounding it in the rest of the garden. On the other hand you may decide just to scatter general low level ground lighting in amongst plants of the same height which will create a flat effect but will give you a rainbow of color.
Floodlight or Spotlight
To help you with your landscape lighting design there are typically two lamp and reflector types. The wide angle lenses are used to flood a surface with a wash of light where a narrow angled lens is used for laser-like accuracy to put a spot of light on an object.
Flood lighting works best by positioning it under leafy shrubs and trees. By doing this the floodlight will create shadows within the foliage and spill out onto surrounding plants. If you are trying to light a very large tree you may consider several floodlights to get an even spread of light.
Spotlights work best if they are correctly positioned and aimed at the feature you are trying to highlight. A good way to get this right is to temporarily connect the spotlight and move it backwards and forwards until the right amount of light is highlighting the feature.
Color is an important consideration for any landscape lighting design. The most common source of light is white light. When white light is used it generally brings out the true color of the surrounding plants and objects because it contains all the visible colors. By using colored filters or sleeves attached to the light fitting, colored light can be used to emphasize the natural color of the surrounding plant foliage. Colors such as yellow are useful to use as it is a warm color and brings out the best in the wood of trunks and branches. Reds and Blues are also very popular colors to use.
Textures with Water.
Nothing in nature is smooth or symmetrical. With this fact in mind, light that is aimed at an angle onto rough textured surfaces can play an important part to your landscape lighting design. With the added element of moving water such as a fountain or waterfall, flickering shadows and reflections can be created. These are very soothing to the viewer.
Glare. To See and not be seen.
When locating the in ground light fittings in your garden try and hide them away from view by using rocks or other features. There is nothing worse than ruining a perfectly good landscape lighting design by having all of your light fittings visible. Normally the light source or lamp of the fitting is not guarded and will create glare. Avoid this at all cost.