If there’s a single addition that can take a nice backyard and make it an enviable backyard it would be exterior accent lighting. Low-voltage outdoor lighting is one of the heaviest-hitting additions you can add to your home, because it adds both dimension and highlights to your yard. With an expertly lighted yard, the fun is just getting started after the sun goes down.
You’ve got many options for outdoor lighting, so knowing which is best for your situation is important. Also, note that many HOAs now insert light-pollution clauses that discuss what type of lighting you can have at your home. This is because without guidelines they fear too much light will be displaced around your property and negatively affect other neighbors or the community at large. We recommend you check first as it’s usually pretty easy to stay within their guidelines and accomplish all your goals.
With proper planning and vision, outdoor lighting can accomplish a lot and enhance the property immensely. Below we’ll discuss the most effective ways to use lighting around your home.
Different Options for Outdoor Landscape Lights
- Spotlights. Spotlight lighting is when you have one light directed at a single object or section of the landscaping. Commonly we’ll see homeowners highlight large trees, flower gardens, flags, fountains, and even architectural elements of their homes. Unlike a lighthouse that tries to have the brightest light, your outdoor spotlights need to be appropriate and mindful of the neighbors. This is usually where HOA light pollution clauses come into play, as a poorly angled or positioned spotlight can effectively become a floodlight and a quick nuisance.
- Uplighting. Similar to spotlights, uplighting draws attention to your landscaping from the ground up. However, where a spotlight can have precise highlighting for dramatic effects, uplighting is more dispersed and muted. This is what a lot of people think of when they envision the very subtle but warm glow of outdoor lighting. When done properly, it can add a lot of aesthetic appeal to the yard.
- Moonlighting. This is the opposite of uplighting but can offer a similar whimsy to the yard. Unlike uplighting, which has a brighter light drawing attention to a general area, moonlighting tries to accomplish a muted, but even glow, such as what you’d experience when there’s a full moon. This type of lighting is great for sitting areas or outdoor dining spaces for the more casual post-dinner conversations we all enjoy. This lighting technique tends to produce a cooler white effect vs the warmer glow of traditional lights.
- Step and path lights. Resident and guest safety is always important when considering landscaping improvements and you can accomplish that by highlighting where they’re walking. We often encourage homeowners to use natural stones and steps when redoing their landscaping but those elements can also have natural surfaces with varying texture and grades. Even if you have perfectly flat manmade stairs, seeing your pathway is very important! By placing strategically placed downward-facing lights along the stairs or walkway, it makes navigating in the evening much easier. Plus it’s less spooky 🙂
- Bistro lights. While not traditionally part of landscape lighting, bistro lights are very popular for outdoor lighting in entertainment and seating areas. These are the ropes of lights that remain outdoors full-time and get strung up permanently. We often get requests to include these if we’ve installed a pergola, gazebo, or deck. They’re also a great way to add subtle light for navigating around raised garden beds.
- Motion-activated flood lights. While motion lights are not traditionally associated with outdoor landscape lighting, we like to include them because they are so darn helpful. Whether you have deer coming into your garden or kids using the back corner as a shortcut, having a motion-activated flood light can be a nice addition to one’s backyard. Again, just be mindful of where it’s pointed, how sensitive it is, and if it could be considered a nuisance to any neighbors.
While not an exhaustive list, the above examples are really popular and frequently used outdoor lighting options. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, the type of lighting and its placement can really transform your space into a more welcoming environment.
Contact Landscape Guys today to discuss your goals and to get an estimate. We serve the entire Twin Cities area and beyond.