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Landscape Lighting Design Tips

Landscape lighting for your home, garden, patio or deck is a great home improvement project, even for novice do-it-yourselfers.

Think of it as a way to enhance esthetic appeal and atmosphere by lighting your property to its best advantage.

Many outdoor light fixtures work on a low voltage system which is exceptionally safe and easy to install. Low voltage lighting uses a transformer to convert line voltage from your house to 12 volts.

Solar landscape lighting is another easy option that requires no wiring at all. If your property is large you should consider a line voltage system installed by a professional landscape lighting designer.

In either case, good landscape lighting design depends on a little planning, a little know-how, and some common sense.

1. Make a plan before you begin.

Sketch a plan of your house, deck and garden, including any trees, garden ornaments, and other landscaping features. It’s best to make some measurements first, and sketch the plan as accurately as you can on graph paper. This will make it easier to choose the best positions for your lighting fixtures.

Next, experiment with your outdoor landscape lighting design before you install it permanently. You can use flashlights, camping lanterns and portable floodlights to try out different lighting effects and fixture positions. Even though these won't be exactly the same as the real thing, you'll start to get a good idea of what you want before you make a purchase. If you decide to use low voltage or solar lighting fixtures, you can easily set them up temporarily and do a nighttime test to see how they work. Then make any necessary adjustments.

2. Think about safety.

The best landscape lighting designs not only look great, they also provide safety and security around outdoor areas such as the patio, the garden and the deck at night. Make sure stairways, steps, level changes, the edge of the deck, pathways, walkways and doorways are well lit.

3. Avoid Glare.

Glare is unattractive and uncomfortable on the eyes. Make sure your outdoor lighting fixtures are not focused directly onto a hard surface like a wall or deck. Also avoid overlapping the light sources from various lighting fixtures, as this will create ‘hot spots’, which are very harsh and unattractive.

For more information on outdoor lighting, please read these articles:

Overview of the different outdoor lighting fixtures

Information on LED landscape lighting

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