Monday, 10 July 2017

Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting refers to the use of outdoor illumination of private gardens and public landscapes; for the enhancement and purposes of safety, night time aesthetics, accessibility, security, recreation, sports and social event uses.
You've worked hard to make your house and yard look first-rate. So why let that hard work disappear at nightfall when, with a flick of a switch and some strategically placed landscape lights, you can roll back the darkness and put it all on display? Done right, landscape lighting makes the best of what you've got by highlighting your home's architectural features and drawing attention to certain plants and trees.
·        When thinking about how to design exterior landscape lighting the first thing to know is that less can be more. Because the eye is drawn to areas with the greatest amount of visual contrast, it doesn't necessarily take many lighting fixtures to create a really beautiful effect.
·        With that basic "less can be more" principle in mind, the next step is to determine what you are trying to light. What you do not want to do is light up your whole yard like a Las Vegas casino. If everything is highlighted, then nothing stands out and nothing is special. Instead, consider what features you want to show off, and determine how you plan to use specific outdoor areas.
·        If you keep overall light levels low, then the contrast between light and shadow of a highlighted exterior feature can create a much more dramatic effect.
·        If you have a favorite outdoor reading area, consider putting a spot in a tree or above in a pergola, and direct the light down, over your shoulder. 
·        For outdoor dining / entertaining, you really do not need a lot of light, and there are many ways you can create a great summertime entertainment center with light. In the end, you do want to create a casual, relaxed mood for your outdoor space.
·        Avoid the bluish tone lights as they can make environments appear sickly or unnatural, imparting a sense of uneasiness. Instead, opt for lighting with a very warm colour
·        Use LED lights as they can be six to seven times more energy efficient than incandescent lights, save over 80% more energy, and last 25+ times as long as traditional light bulbs.
·        Layer your lighting. layered lighting is a means by which one can create "highs" and "lows" in the lighting plan to add emotion, drama or beauty to a space. It is definitely an important tool that should be used in an outdoor environment. Put different lights on different circuits. Layered lighting is also about controlling established lighting in your environment for different purposes. There are a wide range of dimmers and controls available that will allow you to create different light settings for various events. 
·        For outdoor landscape and garden lighting, low-voltage fixtures are definitely the way to go, especially in a residential application.

These are just a few of the creative techniques I use regularly in designing nightscapes. With a little imagination, there's no limit to the number of ways you can add magic to your night time yard with outdoor lighting effects.
·        Up-Lighting- This outdoor lighting technique uses low-voltage light fixtures with halogen or led bulbs that light a tree from the ground up to show off its shape and trunk structure.
·        Moonlighting- To create this lighting effect, fixtures are placed high in a tree and aimed downward. This is a great way to down-light a patio.
·        Silhouetting- For this effect, a spread light is placed between plant material, sculpture or a fountain, and an adjacent structure. The effect is that the object is silhouetted in black against a soft white background.
·        Shadowing- This involves washing a feature such as a tree or statue so that it casts a shadow on a wall or fence. The play of light and darkness can be quite intriguing, especially if the object is affected by the breeze. Lighting the object from low down and angling upward can provide a larger than life dramatic effect.
·        Grazing- To highlight an interesting texture or stone work, spread-lights or up-lights are placed right next to the wall with beams directed upwards. This casts shadows that delicately capture the texture of the wall. This effect is terrific to show off your stone work on walls.
·        Path lighting- At its most basic, path and step lighting exists to keep the walker safe. You want to make sure all obstacles and turns are well illuminated.
·        Cross lighting- Lights the feature from two sides. You don't want to overdo this effect since that can lead to over lighting and a washed out look. Let the experts do it for you.
·        Spotlighting- This technique uses a fixture to highlight a focal point such as a flag, statue or water fountain. Use one or two spotlights to highlight your favorite feature in the garden.
·        Down-Lighting from structures- Down-Lighting can be used in a number of ways. Fixtures are placed in patio covers, under eaves of the house roof line, on garden walls or placed in trees to down-light patios and pathways. Use downlighting to show off a bed of flowers, or a beautiful plant. Downlighting is also useful for illuminating doorways and other entrances and exits.
·        Down-lighting from hardscape- Light fixtures can be installed upside down in benches, countertops, and wall windows to cast subtle lighting along pathways and patios. During the day, fixtures are hidden beneath the hardscape but at night their light defines an area with a surrounding glow that draws guests in.
·        Pool Lighting- Swimming pool lighting is important both for safety and for aesthetics. You can also use underwater lights or ambient lighting in the surrounding landscape to make after-hours swimming inviting to you and your guests.
·        Underwater lighting- Fixtures submersed in water features create an extra special effect at night. Light literally dances across walls and room ceilings when water passes over it. Use submersible lights in ponds, fountains and swimming pools. Lighting the water from underneath adds depth to what would otherwise be a flat surface.
·        Washing- Place the light to the side of what you want to illuminate and let the light "wash" over it, bathing an entire wall or row of bushes. This will create a soft glow over the whole area. Experiment with the height and angle of the light to see what provides the best result.
Lighting Placement
While lighting can be placed virtually anywhere, some spots make it an absolute must. Those include:
Paths: A well-lit path is both welcoming and required, providing illumination that extends hospitality to visitors and makes walking more secure. 
Entries: Place lights either to each side of a door or overhead at front, back, and side entry doors.
Driveway: Low-voltage landscape lighting is a good option along a driveway.
Steps: Steps should be lighted for safety; either the risers or the treads can be lit.
Decks or Patios: Lighting can be used to illuminate specific task areas on a deck or patio, such as a kitchen or cooking spot, as well as railings and seating areas. Gazebos, Pergolas, or Trellises: Lighting is a good way to highlight an interesting built element in the outdoor landscape.

*** A common mistake
Don't only light the top of a staircase or you will end up casting a shadow down the steps. Shadowed steps make it hard to judge distance and can create a slip and fall hazard. Always add lights at the bottom of the steps too to fill in shadows and create a safe staircase.

Interior and Landscape Designer

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