Whether you live in a midtown midcentury with a mid-sized yard, an perfectly manicured palatial plot or a sprawling acreage, landscape lighting is a great way to add value and visual interest to your home. I live in Old Town on a small lot…here is my landscape lighting story:
On our favorite summer nights, we bike downtown to Walrus Ice Cream for dessert. By the time we get home, it is usually dark, so the feeling of coming home to a lighted yard is a big relief. The transformers which power our yard’s landscape lights have photo sensors that automatically turn our lights on when it is dark. (One less thing to remember to do in a day). Sometimes we arrive at our front door and the landscape lights allow us to see whether any intruders have stopped by while we were out. Intruders in our yard are usually the neighbor cat, a squirrel or a fox! The lights also give me peace of mind that there is not a person lurking in the shadows that we wouldn’t welcome on our doorstep.
Most nights we approach our home from the alley. We have strategically set up just a few path and spot lights in the back yard so that when we come through the gate, our walking path is lit and we can see the steps up to our yard. I love that my favorite features of our backyard are highlighted and visible at night from our porch or inside the house. We have a very interesting apricot tree with a leaning trunk that I always imagine to be the future climbing tree for our children (the perfect place for an uplight spot). We have some ornamental grasses, iron trellises and a lighted birdbath that complete the simple design.
When laying out a landscape lighting plan, we know that less is more. A little goes a long way at night so for us there was hardly any concern about how close together lights should be placed.
The questions we asked ourselves when planning were:
What are the areas that need the most security?
What are our favorite elements that we want to light?
How do we accomplish balanced light in the yard without having too many lights?
We have a simple craftsman home, the goal was to keep simplicity in the yard, not make it look flashy or like an airplane runway. The best things we did were mix downlight and uplight in a subtle way and stick to the “less is more” plan. Installation was easy for me to do myself but I have hired help to do some updates as our landscape changed. Low voltage wiring can be run just under our landscape material and the power transformer just plugs in our outlet.
Forget about changing light bulbs! We used LED bulbs that will last up to 50,000 hours and allowed us to use a low wattage, unobtrusive transformer.
It was the easiest change we have made to our house since we built 7 years ago!
- Jennifer Guerriero
Lighting Enthusiast and The Light Center’s Co-Owner