Five Projects to Give Your Landscape Lights Some Autumn Love
“No spring nor summer's beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face...”
There are many great things about landscape lighting. At the top of that list is how the lights capture changes in the landscape as the seasons unfold. But let's not be idle spectators in this process. Let's see if we can do things to make our lighting even more spectacular. Here's five projects for your Autumn fun. (Note: If you don't have landscape lights, it's never too late . . .)
The Seasons, they Go Round and Round . . .
In the Spring, the lights capture young leaves and blossoms. Color erupts from every part of the landscape and the night is replete with rainbow hues.
In Summer, the leaves mature into their darker more saturated greens - the lighting reflects this and reveals a lush verdant landscape emerging from the darkness.
Then time steps into Autumn and the landscape retreats into a phase where colors change again. If you are lucky enough to live in northern climates, the leaves reward you with dazzling displays of reds, yellows, and oranges. This is a short pleasure since the display may last only a few days followed by a time we know too well – falling leaves and bare branches – perhaps the biggest challenge to our lights.
Falling Leaves, Beautiful but . . .
Why do we care about leaves? If you have well lights, the answer is obvious – they get buried. A lighting fixture covered with leaves can't illuminate anything (except the leaves that cover it). Such a condition is also a fire hazard – unless your well lights are powered by LEDs. It is only the older halogen-type bulbs that can cause fires. LEDs run much cooler. Still, let's keep the leaves off our lights so they can shine.
Project #1. While leaves are falling, pull out your rake and make your lights leaf-free! Sorry, but you should do this at least once a week till the leaves stop falling.
Project #2. Replace your older halogen bulbs with new LED bulbs! Check out the VOLT LED versions of your older bulbs.
Bare Branches and Slasher Movies
You love how your trees look when the light makes every leaf luminescent, and maybe your backyard tree canopy shines like a cathedral. But when leaves fall, they leave branches behind. Sure, branches are beautiful, too. But let's face it, they can also look a little scary – like a backdrop for a slasher movie. Maybe you want to tone down the lights on these bone-like shapes.
Project #3. Adjust your lights so they are less bright on bare branches. One great technique is to add frosted lenses to each of your spotlights. They cut down the brightness by about one-half. You can also choose to turn off some lights by removing the bulbs or disconnecting them from the system. Just be warned that removing lights from a system can affect voltage on the remaining lights. you may need to make an adjustment at the transformer. (Ask a Pro if you're not sure.)
Project #4. Make them scarier. In the last week of October, go Halloween on your trees and use color filters. Select among some pretty frightening red and green dichroic filters. Just keep in mind these filters cut down the brightness quite a bit, so it only works when you have a very bright spotlight. You can also use these colors on some of your other lights. Have fun!
You may not think about this, but buried lighting wires may become unburied. This is a bad thing since exposed wires can be damaged by gardeners and mowers.
Project #5. Before leaves fall, walk your property and look for exposed lighting wires. Bury them to a minimum 6” depth.