Home & Design
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Home & Design
Local landscape lighting pros share the best techniques for making your yard glow. Exterior lighting is important for safety. Illuminated paths and driveways prevent after-dark accidents, and motion detectors alert when people are passing by. Some fixtures even provide home protection when you’re away. But artistic lightscapes have become as important as functional ones, and unique techniques allow for the ultimate evening landscape.
Think of exterior lighting as “painting a picture of the landscape at night,” recommends Dan Blitzer, education consultant for the American Lighting Association (ALA). Fashion has become such a focus that experts sometimes design schemes so that fixtures do not show. “Unless you want the fixture itself to be the focal point, always hide the lighting,” notes Jeffrey White, a senior designer and partner of AguaFina, a Sylvan Lake landscaping business. He also advocates downlighting, installed in a soffit or a tree, which creates the effect of moonlight filtering through branches and leaves, for what White calls “soft and more natural” illumination.
According to the ALA, to light correctly, key in on architectural features: Uplight an arbor, archway or facade for a dramatic effect. Wash the side of the house with a splash of light. Graze a textured fence or wall with a focused beam. Illuminate the water in a pool or pond with submersible lights. Silhouette a tree or bush by placing lights below and behind the object.
“The key is to be subtle,” says Paul Eddleston, lighting designer and owner of Illuminata, a Brimingham-based creative exterior lighting business. “It’s important not to over-light,” Blitzer agrees. Illuminating everything wipes out the artistic possibilities, says White. “What you should see is the landscape, not the lights,” he says, “so that the outdoor lighting tells a visual story at night.” For instance, the reflection of a tree’s cinnamon-red bark in a pool and the mirrored image of an illuminated sculpture become “beautiful illusions” that are like “living art,” observes White. The key is to create a three-dimensional effect.
While some lights take the fashionable approach, maintaining function remains important. The standard carriage light “architecturally, is very appropriate, but as a lighting tool, it can produce a lot of glare,” says Eddleston. He recommends instead providing the main source of light through a downlighting technique via recessed lights in the soffit, while the carriage light becomes purely ornamental…