Landscape Lighting Design
Techniques for low voltage landscape lighting
Correct lighting techniques will highlight your important features and create the perfect amount of drama in a yard. Find out what techniques works best for your home's architectural features and garden accents.
Highlighting - This is a common and quite useful technique in outdoor lighting. Highlighting is created by placing a spotlight at the base of an outdoor feature. By varying the distance and angle of the light fixture, you can experiment with different lighting designs. For example, trees often need two or more fixtures to provide sufficient illumination.
Silhouetting - By placing a spotlight behind the feature, aimed towards an adjacent wall, you can create an illuminated backdrop. This dark outline of the object is useful for showcasing plants and other dense features. It looks especially striking in the sunset.
Scalloping - By varying the position and angle of the lighting fixture from silhouetting, you create a lighting technique called scalloping. By aiming the light straight up from the base of the fixture, it creates a cone-shaped illuminated backdrop. This works best with symmetrical objects, creating a dramatic and elegant sensibility.
Shadowing - A similar technique to silhouetting, shadowing also places the fixture towards the base of the feature, aimed towards an adjacent wall. However, the goal is to create a softer shadow, and often works best with a tree that has open, delicate foliage. The effect of the tree's movement in the wind is sure to add drama to any home facade.
Grazing - The grazing technique is placing an upright fixture very close to the surface of a feature to bring out its unique texture. It is the perfect technique for an old tree with complex and interesting bark, or a stone wall with lots of relief since it brings out light areas and dark areas at the same time.
Wallwashing - Wallwashing creates a soothing and even glow that comes off the wall or facade it's pointed towards. For best results, place the lighting fixture a few feet away from the feature, and give it a sideways angle. By shining along side the wall, it maintains an even and somewhat subtle ambient lighting for the nearby area. A wide angle flood light with low wattage is recommended for this, as opposed to a spotlight.
Moonlighting - Create moonlighting techniques by placing a large fixture with a full glare guard high up inside a tree, and angled downwards. This effect looks like moonlight shining down through the branches. It causes attractive shadow patterns on the ground to appear, plus it provides a very natural and beautiful lighting effect.
Downlighting - The downlighting technique is similar to the moonlighting technique. Place a fixture high up, inside a feature like a trellis, tree, or eave, and cast downwards over a large area. Place the light higher if you intend to illuminate a large portion of the yard, and lower if you wish to illuminate a path or garden.
Accenting - Any lighting that draws special attention to a specific feature is considered accent lighting. Specifically angled uplighting or downlighting can be used as accent lighting, to point out an architectural design, plant, or other feature. Try using a narrow beam spotlight from a hidden fixture to add a flair of mystery to your accent lighting.
Pathlighting - Pathlighting is created by placing small fixtures along the borders of walkways, driveways, and patios. It is important that the style of these path lights be considered carefully. It is also important to be sure that they are positioned to illuminate the path, but also placed so that they avoid being kicked, moved, or getting in the way of the lawnmower.
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