7 Ways to use landscape lighting

Spring is on the horizon in Northern Michigan, and we are all dreaming of warmer days spent outside. With our shorter summer season, it is important to get the most out of your outdoor space while you can. Just because the sun goes down, doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Landscape lighting can improve usability, safety, and highlight the beautiful parts of your property, which you can read more about here.

When most of us think about landscape lighting we envision the cheap lights attached to stakes found at your local hardware store. Homeowners push them into the ground to line a driveway, walkway, or patio and call it done. But is that all there is to landscape lighting? Let’s explore 7 different ways you can work professional landscape lighting into your outdoor space.

1. Hardscapes with Built-In Lighting

One of the most popular trends we are seeing in landscape lighting is incorporating lights into hardscapes as they are installed. Lighting can be installed into nearly any hardscape project. Installing lighting physically into the hardscape material when it is constructed makes for a seamless and less noticeable lighting plan. Lights look like they were meant to be there and always have been.

Below you can see examples of how the holes are drilled into the stone and how well they blend into the stone once installed. Here are a few examples of where to include landscape lighting into your hardscape:

  • Individual steppers along a pathway
  • Pavers on the edge of driveways or patios
  • Seat walls or small retaining walls that surround a patio or are near a pathway
  • Stone steps
  • Within or behind water features

2. Pathway and Area Lighting

Pathway or area lighting, like fixtures around your patio, for example, has always been the most common way landscape lighting is used. These lights are typically placed along the borders of driveways, patios, or walkways. They should be placed close enough to the area or walkway to provide light to navigate, but not so close that you or your guests will kick or trip over them.

3. UpLighting

Uplighting is simply when you place lights below or at ground level. They shine ‘up’ at whatever they are pointing at, hence then nickname up lighting. Uplighting can feature neat architectural pieces of your home or even your favorite tree or garden feature. The general goal of uplighting is to feature or highlight the beauty of elements on your property, not to provide tons of light to help you navigate around your property.

4. Wall Washing

Wall washing is a type of uplighting as well but serves a much more specific purpose. The goal is simply to light up the wall that the light is shined upon. This produces a soothing and sometimes even glowing effect on the hard surface it is directed at. Typically, effective wall washing eliminates shadows. Overall, wall washing can create a feeling of more space and highlight the feature it is pointed at, making it feel larger or more impressive. Bright lights are used to create this effect.

5. Downlighting

Downlighting is the exact opposite of uplighting. Lights are placed up high and shine downward on whatever they are pointed at. The higher lights are placed, the more area they typically illuminate. Downlighting can also be used to highlight beautiful landscape features, but it also improves safety and the ability to navigate around your property. Lights can be installed under seat walls and benches or above trees and outdoor seating areas.

6. Moon Lighting

Moon lighting attempts to recreate the effect of a full moon shining down and illuminating your landscape. It is actually a type of downlighting, but is quite popular and used a bit differently than other types of uplighting, so we felt it should be featured on its own.

Moon lighting typically uses a softer type of illumination, and lights are always placed high up above your landscape and point downward. This creates a really neat effect with shadows as well as gently illuminating the area you install them. Moon lighting helps quite a bit with visibility on your property, provides a calming feel, and can help to highlight beautiful features on your property.

7. Shadow or Silhouette lighting

Shadow and silhouette lighting are all about specifically where the light is placed and what direction it is pointed in. Shadow lighting can be created with up or down lighting. Shadows can be cast making something appear larger than it is, or they can create patterns on the ground or surrounding landscape features.

Silhouette lighting requires lights to be placed directly behind objects. Featuring a sculpture or a tree with a unique shape are common ways people use silhouette lighting.

Selecting a Professional to Design and Install Your Landscape Lighting Plan

Landscape lighting has transformed into so much more than cheap solar lights from your hardware store. . Many of the techniques described above require professional-grade lighting installed by an experienced landscape team. Multiple lights can be placed to highlight one specific feature, and that requires the eye and experience of a professional.

Lighting like described above usually requires a specific landscape lighting design plan to ensure that lights are not overly used and the effects you are hoping to create are actually achieved. Landscape lighting can help to make your property more usable, more beautiful, and more safe if they are installed correctly.

Ready to design the landscape lighting plan of your dreams in Grand Traverse or Leelanau County, MI? If so, meet with our team of experts, choose a solution to improve your property, and get ready to sit back, relax, and enjoy your beautiful outdoor space.

Get started today with a consultation!

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