Garden lighting idea
Credit: Giridhar Appaji Nag Y through Wikimedia Commons

Light affects the way we see and feel the world. It is a source of enlightenment, inspiration and meaning. It is the most important consideration in architecture and design.
The growing popularity of garden landscaping has increasingly brought attention not only to the plants and greens we grow in there but also how we decorate it. With lighting design, it is essential to ensure that space can be admired and enjoyed not only by day but also at night. This improves the view from inside the house, office or other.

The garden lighting is divided into:

  • Area: reading, barbecues, outdoor kitchens and other specific activities.
  • Areas marked: highlight objects, sculptures, steps, etc…
  • Decorative Area: creates interest in a space focusing on the light itself, such as a wall light or the profile of a beautiful tree.
  • General lighting: provides light to a specific area such as a driveway or a paddle.

Golden Rules in garden lighting

It is fundamental to understand the limitations of a space. Practicalities such as the needs and tastes of the future users of the garden. Knowing this in advance reduces the amount of changes you will need to do later on.

Effect desired
Practical or aesthetic? It is best to balance safety and aesthetics of outdoor lighting. It must consider all activities to be undertaken in the garden throughout the year and with the change of seasons.

Create a colorful picture.
Distribute plants with different varieties, textures and densities, but do it with a previous study as existing designs do not always fit all gardens.

Less is more.
Avoid excesses, causing confusion in sight with many focal points. Just a couple of effects can have more impact, like a large tree, sculpture or flower bed. Always consider the future changes the garden will undergo with the seasons.

Lighting in layers.
Creating a low, medium and high visual stimulation, all connected by a "corridor" of light.

Play of lights and shadows
The shadow cast by the outdoor lighting is as important as the light itself. So try to foresee the effect a light in a particular place might have. Prevent unaesthetic glare.
Position lamps well. The light source should always give prominence to the effects it creates. You should never obscure the view.

Do not fear the use of color.
But use it wisely to ensure balance if you use complementary colors.

Think green.
Use energy-saving lamps. Efficient, with low maintenance and low cost.

Safety must come first when designing the proposed landscaping and garden lighting. Steps, paths, patios, ponds, and other structures must be taken into account to prevent lack of light. Bridge the aesthetic and the functional needs, for example, instead of illuminating the whole staircase, illuminate the first and last step.

Common Mistakes in outdoor lighting

  • Using too many colors creates a surreal and fantasy feel
  • Using underwater lighting promotes algae growth and sometimes the water can appear dirty.
  • Leaving the lights full of insects changes the desired effects.
  • Bulbs that are too strong for the device produce an unwanted shine.
  • Choosing poorly the proportion of appliances causes visual problems, such as a large lamp in a tiny garden.

Using security lights in landscaping exaggerates the environment, causing an unpleasant sensation. Security lights should be located in areas as a gateway to recognize and avoid intruders visits.

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Outdoor Lighting Techniques

Lighting down: includes various techniques that will be mentioned later. Lighting from above. When properly set, it mimics natural light.

Lighten up: it is a general term, which involves illuminating something from below. Produces light or glow in the garden. It is usually a dramatic effect. It produces a slightly artificial effect. Use this technique with discretion. Positive for interesting points as sculptures, the texture of a wall or the interest of the changing seasons in the garden.

Security Light: to avoid accidents. The main function of the outdoor lighting is to highlight obstacles that people should avoid and which paths to follow. It should be brighter in paths and steps with heavy traffic of people.

Security light against unwanted visitors: usually used in door entrances. The switches for these lights should be on the inside of the house.

Lighting of areas: to separate spaces for games, work, pergolas... Solitary points of light are commonly used, but those can become boring and uninteresting if not properly used. Combine decorative spotlights with other lighting types.

Stray light: light positioned behind something like a fabric panel, a lattice, or even within your own landscape lighting fixtures that let light pass subtly, or between cracks.

Moon effect: use a soft light source that simulates moonlight. Normally positioned at the top of a tree. It is aesthetically pleasing and provides security. It is important not to see the light source.

Texture effect: to illuminate the garden surfaces such as a wall, pavement, gravel or grass. Locate the light away from the object to be illuminated but pointing at it.

Lighting focus: gives a brilliant garden focal. Focus on different points of the landscape. When done in a discreet manner it can be very effective. It reveals what is important in the garden. Do not use it too much.

Lighting of emphasis: includes lighting techniques to add shine at a small scale with small focal spots at particular plants. Small sparks of light in the garden. It is suitable for small gardens using a low voltage.

Silhouette: illuminating an object against a bright wall creating a dramatic effect. The lamp or light source should be hidden, perhaps in the soil or directly behind the object. Attractive plants with original leaves, or that move with the wind.

Light contour: helps guide the user and provides security against accidents. Normally used for walkways, the surface of the pool, the pavement of the driveway, etc..

Underwater light: only put under water if your water is always clean.

Mirror effect: reflecting trees, sculptures and garden structures on the surface of water. Lighting from below items that are near the water.

Lighting of walls: illuminate them completely to create intimate atmospheres. It serves very well for facades.

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