Summer’s not quite here yet but it’s not too late to plan a perfectly-lit backyard before the high holy days of summer arrive. To make the most of your family and friends’ time, look around your outdoor space to see if the existing lighting enhances the ambiance.
According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), a few updates to your outside lighting can make your outdoor time more enjoyable. And the best part —It doesn’t have to be complicated or costly to transform your existing patio, deck or pool area into a lovely retreat.
“Creating a beautiful landscape doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Rick Wiedemer of Hinkley Lighting. “A few well-placed, low-voltage path or accent lights can make a huge impact on a well-manicured landscape.” No lawn is too small. “Even modest homes or those with limited yards or gardens can benefit,” he says.
A few outdoor lighting tips:
—Layer outdoor lighting. Just like indoor lighting, outdoor lighting is most effective if it utilizes overhead, task and ambient light sources. Even outdoors, where there aren’t typically boundaries and borders, thinking of and planning for these three layers will enhance enjoyment and help define smaller sitting and entertaining areas as though they are outdoor rooms.
—Create a safe and secure environment. Enhance security with lighting near entrances and in dark corners. Aim lights away from the door so as not to blind anyone as they enter your outdoor area.
—Reduce glare. Light walkways and paths with light that is cast downward and fixtures that are hooded. In many cases, exterior-safe dimmers and movable fixtures, which can be added to a patio or porch as needed, can provide flexible control over the level of light.
—Add decorative elements. While functionality is the top priority, aesthetic elements are important for a relaxing and inspiring setting. Focus on lighting that highlights architectural and natural details, as well as other decorative elements like arbors, pergolas, large plants, and pergolas.
—Conserve energy. Consider LEDs for their efficiency. Also think about Energy Star and Dark Sky fixtures that reduce glare and minimize light into the sky as well as neighboring yards and windows. Remember to check the color (chromaticity) of LED outdoor lights. Low chromaticity lights (2700 or 3000K) will look similar to incandescent and halogen bulbs. Higher chromaticity LEDs (4000K and above) will have a whiter, bluer look.
— Don’t overlook the power of a basic strand of LED Christmas (or string) lights: these can enhance any garden, lawn, or landscape. Sure, tube lighting is more common, but these little lights carry quite a bit of punch and flexibility. Scattered in grasses, twined around garden furniture, or wrapped around tree trunks, classic miniature white lights can turn any outdoor environment into something magical at nighttime.