Landscape lighting: a complete guide


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Do you ever want to show off all your hard work landscaping to friends and family, but it is simply just too dark? Make your landscaping viewable during at all times of the day by adding some landscape lighting!

There are lots of different techniques you use to light up your lawn and landscaping, each one offering different benefits. A few different reasons you may want to add landscape lighting to your lawn are additional safety, display, or to simply make it so that your landscaping stands out from all the other lawns on the block. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about installing your own landscape lighting!

Types of Landscape Lighting

Before you start designing exactly how you want your lawn and landscape lighting to look, let’s discuss the different types of lighting available to you and the different ways to power your choice in lighting.

Different Types of Power Systems

There are several different powering methods with which you can light your landscaping. Here we will discuss the pros and cons of each type of power system and briefly discuss how to install them yourself!

Low Voltage Power Systems

A low voltage system, while it may take a little bit of effort and time to install, is a relatively inexpensive way to power your landscape lighting. Not only is this system more inexpensive compared to another power system, but a low voltage power system is also the safest system to install (and therefore the most recommended system to use).

A typical low voltage system is powered by only 12 volts. This low voltage system can be easily connected back to a central power supply.

This central power system will most likely be the transformer to your house. Using a transformer changes the voltage from the 120 volt used in your household to the safer 12 volt for your landscape lighting.

The only tool you will need to do the lighting system yourself is a wire stripper! You will also need some outdoor electrical wires in order to attach all the lights to the power source. Be sure that your landscaping is completely finished before you bury any of your wires.

If you ever plan on redoing your landscaping, you will find it helpful to create a wiring map, so you know exactly where they are wires in your lawn. In fact, even if you currently do not have any plans to re-do your landscaping, creating a wiring map is a smart idea to keep you and your family safe while playing, digging, or just relaxing on your lawn.

Learn more about how to install your own low voltage power system at the familyhandyman.com!

If you need a little more assistance in installing your own low voltage lighting system, try using a Do It Yourself landscape lighting kit! These kits come in both smaller and larger packs to help suit your landscaping needs.

If you want to install your own low voltage power system for landscape lighting try out this FVTLED Low Voltage LED Deck lights kit!

This do it yourself kit comes with some indicator lights for your steps, pathways, or decks and all the cords needed to power your landscape lighting systems!

High Voltage Power Systems

A high voltage power system, when compared to the low voltage system, is much more expensive and much more dangerous to install.

While landscape lighting does not often require the 120 volts provided by a high voltage power system, you may want to use the system for a larger yard with lots of separate lighting systems.

If you choose to add a high voltage power system for your landscape lighting, we suggest calling in the professionals to ensure that your electrical system is completed properly and safely.

Solar Power System

While a solar-powered system may cost a little more to install, over time this type of power system can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in electrical bills.

Not only will a solar-powered system save you money but using a solar power system is the most environmentally friendly system you can choose for powering your landscape lighting as well!

The simplest way to use solar power for your landscaping lights is to simply purchase lights that come attached to their own solar panels

Get some solar-powered lights for your landscaping by clicking here!

If you would rather have only one or two larger solar panels for your landscaping instead of a bunch of smaller solar panels throughout the yard, read this article by Earth Easy to learn how to build your own Home Solar Power System!

As you may assume, even though a solar power system is cheaper and easier to install, there is one main pitfall. One of the only problems with solar power systems is that on a rainy or snowy day, you do not get very much charge and therefore your lights are not likely to be in full blast that night.

Different Types of Lighting Systems

Now that you have chosen how you are going to power your landscaping lighting you can start to look at the different types of lighting systems out there.

Before you decide what type of lighting system you will be using, you may want to decide what type of bulbs, or lamps, you want to use in your lighting.

LED light bulbs are known to last longer and provide stronger illumination. While they may cost a little more, they last for over 40,000 hours making up for the little larger price tag.

However, if you are looking for an even more unique touch to your landscaping, you can put colored bulbs in your landscape lighting!

Try these color changing lights out in your lawn, by ordering here!

Now that we have thought about the types of lightbulb you will use in your landscaping lights, let’s take a look at the type of lighting systems to use in your yard!

Visible Lighting Systems

If you do not mind the lighting system being seen, then a visible lighting system will work well in your landscaping.

Some visible lighting systems perfect for your garden are path markers and floodlights.

Path markers are an excellent way to guide guests through your beautiful landscaping and to bring your lawn to life at night. Order some path parkers for your landscaping here!

Floodlights are a perfect way to illuminate not only aspects of your landscaping but the exterior of your home as well! Just be sure not to place any of your floodlights so that they point into any of the home’s windows!

With some color-changing floodlights, you can easily theme your landscaping and home to the next upcoming holiday. Floodlights are an absolute necessity when it comes to landscape lighting, get your floodlights here!

Hidden Lighting Systems

Hidden lighting systems do add a bit more elegance to your landscaping, but they also take away some of the freedom you have for placement. The purpose of hidden lighting systems is to emphasize certain objects not to distract from them with a bulky lighting system.

Some common hidden landscape lighting systems are bullet spotlights, wall lights, downlights, indicator lights, and even underwater lighting systems!

Learn about where to play your hidden lighting systems in the next section about “Where to Place Your Landscape Lights”!

Where to Place Your Landscape Lights

Where you place your landscaping lights will partially have to do with your main goal for lighting your yard.

As I mentioned in the introduction, there are several main reasons people choose to light up your yards. A few of these reasons are safety, entertainment, security, and just to add some more unique qualities to the lawn.

If your main goal in adding landscape lighting is for safety and security, you may want to try adding some motion sensor security lights to the entrances of your home!

Get some motion sensor lights by clicking here and see how to install them in the video below!

Once you know WHY you are choosing to “light up” your landscaping, you can start to choose where to place your lighting fixtures.

Choosing where to place your lighting systems is more important to achieving your goal than the type of lighting and power systems you use. The placement of your lights can either make or break the entire design you have in mind for your yard.

Landscape lighting should highlight the main features of your yard’s landscaping. Illumination too much or too little can cause your yard to feel overwhelming or off balance. Be sure to choose which focal points you want to light up in your landscaping and ensure that they are not located either too close or too far apart.

Above I mentioned the use of indicator lights or well lights in landscaping. These lights work best for outlining pathways, benches, patios, or decks.

Another focal point I mentioned is your house itself! While you may not consider your house to be part of your landscaping, it is, in fact, the main feature of not only your yard but your entire property!

Using some floodlights, you can illuminate your house (also known as the façade) to help accentuate the architecture and color, and to make your house stand out for those passing by. Floodlighting works best on the front of the house, after all, why would you want to show off the back of your house?

If you have any colorful or extravagantly large trees in your yard, these make for unique focal points with landscape lighting. You can highlight these focal points with spotlights, bullet lights, uplights, or by surrounding them with well lights.

In the following video by The Home Depot, you will learn how to install your own uplighting for the trees in your landscaping!

Another place for landscaping lighting is under bushes.

When illuminating the bushes in your landscaping, be sure to use more subtle lighting fixtures. Try some indicator lights or well lights under your bushes or along the edge of your landscaping to make the features pop!

If you are looking for a truly subtle lighting pattern, then a well light will deliver the optimal amount of light. Learn how to properly install well lights in your landscaping by watching the following video!

Another classic place for landscaping lights is any flower beds or planters. You can highlight these portions of your landscaping by installing some downlights or by placing visible canopy lighting markers.

If you choose to use downlights, be sure to focus their light on the part of the planter or flower bed that has the most color or the most unique plant.

Outdoor patios or decks make for the best summer entertainment areas. However, you cannot have a party in the dark!

Light up your outdoor party by hanging some fairy lights above your patio or deck. Combined with some path indicators, hanging fairy lights can turn a simple back yard into a lively, beautiful gathering place. Get some weatherproof outdoor lights to illuminate your outdoor entertainment area by clicking here!

Finally, if you have any water features in your landscaping, these areas are a MUST for landscape lighting.

If your yards water feature is a pond, waterfall, or even a lake, be sure to try some submersible lights! To really highlight these features, try out some color-changing lights! Get some submersible lights of your own by clicking here!

Is there a fountain that is a part of your landscaping? Make them the highlight of your yard by lining them with some subtle lights. Wrap some string lights around your fountain or other water feature to create a unique look and feel for your landscaping! Get your string lights here.

Remember as you choose places for your landscape lighting, make sure you are not placing them too close together or too far apart. Constantly be looking for a balance of lighting throughout your entire yard as you continue to add landscape lighting.

Watch this video to see exactly how to light up both your house and landscaping!

Placing your lights may require you to re-do some portions of your landscaping. You will need to do so in order to place some fixtures and in order to hide any wiring! However, burying your wiring in a way that not only conceals your wiring and power fixtures but also protects your wiring from yard work and the weather can prove to be quite difficult.

See the best places and methods for hiding wiring for your landscape lighting throughout your lawn by watching the following video by Lowe’s Home Improvement!

And now, for the most important tip in placing your landscape lighting! When you are placing your landscaping lights, the most helpful tip is to be creative! This is your lawn and your landscaping so it should show off all your hard work and your personality as well! Whether you want your home’s lighting to be more subtle or you are looking for a more extravagant landscape lighting, make it yours! So be sure that both the landscaping and landscape lighting you add to your yard makes your house feel more like it is truly your home.

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