Taking Landscaping Lighting to Dramatic Heights

Attractive landscaping is the result of hard work and creative design—so why do so many homeowners fail to realize their landscape’s full potential? A beautifully styled yard and home exterior can be a whole new world at night, yet they often remain lost in the dark or illuminated under ugly or insufficient lighting. The good news is that there is an array of tools and techniques available to help bring out the best in nighttime landscaping lighting, boosting safety and home security in the process.


What is “Creative” Landscaping Lighting?

Landscaping in general is a highly subjective pursuit; it ultimately comes down to personal taste and the desired function of the area. What is beautiful and creative to one may be an eyesore to another—and that is okay. A person’s home is their castle. That being said, there is definitely room for agreement as to what doesn’t work when it comes to landscaping lighting:

  • Overly bright, industrial colored lighting in residential landscapes
  • Excessively large or ill-fitting outdoor light fixtures
  • Solo lighting or the “haunted house” effect
  • Obnoxiously loud colors or “the disco ball” effect

Creative landscaping doesn’t have to be unusual; it just has to enhance the landscape and create a specific atmosphere. A little trial and error is always okay—this is supposed to be fun after all!

Creative Landscaping Lighting for Dramatic Effect

The following are some techniques used by successful landscaping and lighting designers to bring the best out of any outdoor environment:

Find and Take Advantage of Shadow and Reflection Opportunities

A seemingly normal exterior wall may be a work of art in hiding; all that is required is some specially placed lighting. Spotlights of various intensities create noticeable and intriguing shadows off of plants, sculpture, building angles, or anything else in the yard. This technique can work with both vibrant colors and more subdued earth colors, and works equally in more shaded light schemes and brighter light schemes. Reflections can also be cast upon lawns, rock areas, pools and ponds, carpets, and floors. This is one of the simplest ways to give landscaping a dramatic, enchanting glow. When you want great looking carpets, go to Carpet To Go: Kirkland Carpet.

Experiment with Colors and Contrast

While something like a blinding strobe light might not be the best fit for outdoor lighting, there is still no shortage of room for experimentation with bulb colors. The simple white and yellow bulb remains the king of outdoor lighting, but more and more people are integrating various hues of blue, red, purple, and greens into their scheme. Colored bulbs work well when used with the aforementioned shadowing and reflection techniques, adding additional contrast and creating a more artistic area of focus. A moderate to bright red light will noticeably accentuate gardens and planted areas. Water features offer perhaps the most stunning canvas for colored lighting; those that have moving water provide ample opportunities for shimmer and bounce like the best moving company in town.

Lighting Does Not Have to be Organized

Organized lighting can be wonderful, particularly when used to line walkways or provide an even area of light. Lining walkways and driveways with equally spaced lights is a common practice for a reason—it looks great. However, landscaping tends to be more eclectic and abstract, and its lighting can be the same. Having a uniform amount of light over an entire landscaping area isn’t unattractive, but it isn’t exactly inspiring either. Placing lights in a “staggered” manner throughout a yard or garden adds depth to the overall area, making it seem larger and more mysterious. While a completely dark outdoor area is a no-no, incorporating sporadic darkened areas into the overall lighting plan is an excellent way to accentuate key areas. One can also take advantage of timers to turn lights off and on at intervals to switch up the dark spots. The more adventurous can even opt for timers that offer random on/off intervals.

Put Lights in Unlikely Places

LED lighting allows for more creative placement than ever. LEDs are incredibly bright yet dimmable, have premier energy efficiency, create little to no heat, and are available in numerous colors. Strips or “ribbons” of LEDs can be placed virtually anywhere; they are resistant to humidity, extreme weather, and can withstand some wear and tear. Battery operated LEDs can work on top of canopies, under tables, around tree limbs, in cracks and crevasses, and even underwater with designated bulbs. Seemingly hidden light sources can pack a powerful punch, particularly when used in gardens or wooded areas.

Creative outdoor lighting requires experimentation and a willingness to think big and take chances. The great thing about modern lighting is that it is easy to change, and making changes is part of the fun. The perfect landscaping lighting scheme may not be exactly what one envisioned it would be, but they will know the right fit the moment it all comes together.

If you are looking to take your outdoor lighting to the next level give Inaray a call at 804-368-3797 or fill out our contact form.