Bright Ideas for Outdoor Lighting

Bright Ideas for Outdoor Lighting

You work hard on your house and landscaping, so there’s no reason why the beauty of it all should be hidden when the sun goes down. Outdoor lighting can bring attention to a specific part of your home’s exterior by literally putting it in the spotlight. Outdoor lighting is used for either one or a combination of reasons, so the first thing to do before making any purchases is to ask yourself "Why?"

Home security, safety, increasing the usability of your space, increasing the property value, or just adding to the aesthetics of your home and landscaping are all good reasons to consider outdoor lighting. Below, we’ll discuss some of the techniques used for exterior lighting and what they can do for you.

The three basic techniques used are uplighting, downlighting and transverse lighting. These terms refer to placement of the fixture in relation to the object you intend to highlight. When uplighting, the fixture is mounted below the subject and cast up. When downlighting, the fixture is placed above the subject and cast down. A tree, a pole, or the side of a building are common placement points for downlighting. Transverse lighting involves simply placing a light across an area from the subject. All lighting is not that simple, however. It is possible to use those three techniques, while still achieving a unique, attractive look. Some well-known variations to these techniques are:

  • Spotlighting gives you the chance to accent a particular piece of architecture, statuary or landscaping that you want to draw attention to. A single beam is usually used for this.
  • Security Lighting is done similarly, though the goal isn’t to illuminate an attractive focal point of your home, but to cast light into area where intruders may hide or try to gain access. Low level lights are often used in combination with spotlights to achieve this.
  • Tree lighting and Moonlighting are techniques that either shine upwards, showing the unique structure of your favorite tree, or shine down from above the branches, thus casting shadows on the ground, creating a "moonlighting" effect.
  • Silhouetting involves placing the light directly in front of an object --usually a plant, and casting a shadow onto a vertical surface. This is a great way to highlight the unique structure of an object, while not showing its texture or size. This is can be used as an imaginative and effective technique during holiday outdoor decorating. It is also an efficient way to cast security lighting at the same time.
  • The Grazing technique accentuates the texture of the surface being highlighted. Stucco and stone walls with a lot of texture are a great place to use this technique. The fixture is placed close to the subject (usually at the bottom) and cast up and across the textured surface. Think of it as your house’s version of holding a flashlight up under its chin --though less creepy!
  • Path Lighting and Spread Lighting are techniques commonly used to provide illumination over walkways and landscape features. Partially shielded lights are usually used in order to contain the light within the intended area and reduce glare. Both techniques work well with security lighting strategies.

All of these techniques can be used to great effect. The use of timers and dimmers are a great way to create the mood you’re looking for, once the sun goes down.

As always, remember that you can call on our friendly, knowledgeable staff to answer any questions you may have about planning your outdoor lighting project. We'll be happy to help you to decide which fixtures and techniques would best suit your needs.