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Three Principles of Landscape Lighting Design

Landscape lighting can provide essential illumination for outdoor activities, ranging from walking from the driveway to the front door, to the walking path by the pool. It extends the usable time of the landscaping into the evenings when we are most likely to use it anyway.


Landscape Lighting Design
Example of Landscape Lighting Design


Three Principles of Landscape Lighting Design

The three biggest reasons that people start designing landscape lighting are use, beauty or aesthetic, and safety.


When we design our landscape lighting system, we will address each of these three motivations.


First Principle of Landscape Lighting Design —— Use

Firstly, we need to identify the way that the landscape is used and provide illumination for those activities. This will naturally suggest focal points for the landscape lighting design.



You need to pay attention to areas in the landscape that have been developed for outdoor use, including outdoor kitchens or outdoor living areas, pools, basketball hoops. You need to think about the best way to light these areas to accommodate your usual activities.


If you need lights for a barbecue or above the dining table, be sure to work that into the landscape lighting design. This kind of landscape lighting design should be placed to create an inviting atmosphere for dining or drinking at night.



If your desire is lighting for outdoor living, our recommendation is to keep lighting low in outdoor areas because you don't want to blind folks sitting outside or disturbed the naturally flattering effects of low light. Keep landscape lights down in Illuminating the edges of the outdoor living area.




If your desire is lighting active areas like basketball courts, we recommend activities that require more intense illumination are lighting from above. Also consider placing these lights in your own zone so they can be turned off when not in use.




Second Principle of Landscape Lighting Design —— Beauty

We want our house or landscape to look beautiful at night, as beautiful as that house down the street that just got landscape lighting installed. Hence, we will use principles of visual distance, balance and rhythm to fill out the design to create beautiful landscapes.





It's important to think about how people will be looking at lighting. For example, there are two main points to consider when we’re looking at landscape installation. If you are from the curb and that's a view from inside the house. The house is the focal point of view from the curb. And the landscape is the focal point of the view from the house. To keep these two views balance you want to make sure that your design incorporates both elements.





The most commonly heard word in landscape lighting design is subtle. Many homeowners desire to have landscape lighting but they don't want the harsh lighting associate with commercial spaces. But be attentive to this desire, if you want to show your beautiful property, subtlety isn't what you should be going for.


If you really want subtlety for your landscape lighting, here are some design recommendations. The keys to the subtle lighting are indirect or reflective light, not too much light and a natural as opposed to a theatrical look. This doesn't necessarily mean less fixtures but it can't affect the brightness of the fixtures. they're being spread and how they are aimed.


Third Principle of Landscape Lighting Design —— Safety


Safety is a concern and a motivation for some buyers when designing their landscape lighting. A well-lit outdoor space with lighting deters burglaries because there is no place to hide. We'll need to ensure that the property is adequately illuminated for safety




The outdoor landscape lighting deters crime, which increases safety. The key to increasing security with outdoor lighting is to eliminate dark areas in the landscape that could conceal prowlers. This does not mean that the property must be lit up like a parking lot. However, it means that it should be attentive to ensuring that the property is lit throughout and especially that there are no dark areas near the house. Wall washing grazing on all sides of the house can go a long way to addressing this need. Illuminating areas behind large plant material, fences or other architectural elements eliminates hiding places on a property as well




Privacy VS Showoff

Some people prefer landscape lighting designs can protect their privacy, while others desire to show off their property to create a beautiful display. Once you understand your need, you can get a sense of what kind of light you need.


A symmetrical forceful facade with a prominent front entrance suggests the desire for show, while asymmetrical facade with lots of different planes emphasized suggests the desire for privacy.


If your desire is privacy, here's our recommendation. While keeping the landscape design balanced strategically light architectural and landscape elements so that there are larger dark intervals between areas that are lit. Using the lighting on the house while keeping the lighting in the landscape constant will deemphasize the architecture and link to a sense of privacy and seclusion. Asymmetrical metrical and rhythmically varied approaches create a more natural look with further reinforces a more private field to the installation.




However, if you desire to show your property, our recommendations is making sure that the landscape lighting hits the major elements of architectural interest including columns, arches, beaks and brick textures. A more symmetrical design generally reads as more showy. So create regular rhythms when lighting plant materials, trees and walls.





Two examples that come up in these kinds of discussions on landscape lighting are Natural and Theatrical. Here are two images that give a sense for the difference between the two.


Natural Lighting - landscape lighting design
Natural Lighting - landscape lighting design

The natural look is marked by asymmetry, a few shadow effects, softer light and we noticed that the architecture while it receives some attention is not emphasized.


Showy Lighting - landscape lighting design
Showy Lighting - landscape lighting design

Elements of a more theatrical look are quite the opposite. Symmetry, lots of shadow effects, a crisp lighting and an emphasis on the unique architectural features of the building.

Ask Yourself When Designing Landscape Lighting

Ask Yourself When Designing Landscape Lighting
Ask Yourself When Designing Landscape Lighting

Ask yourself about the favorite parts of the house.


1)What do you love about your house?

2)What do you love about your landscaping?

3)Is there anything you would like to feature?

4)Do you love the column or the brick exterior?

5)Do you fall in love with the house because of the gables of the white porch?


Identifying your favorite parts of the house landscape can help you make decisions about how to approach your landscape lighting design. If there are parts of the architecture you don't care for, you can eliminate any lighting that would draw attention to those areas.


Here are some questions you can ask yourself to think about security:


1)Do you travel a lot?

2)Are you worried about prowlers?

3)Are you a prominent member of the community and therefore in need of extra security?


Identifying security concerns can help make the case for an expanding lighting system that covers the entire property, and not just the front of the house.


If security is your high concern, you need to follow these principles when designing landscape lighting:


1)Eliminating dark areas on the property

2)Wall wash create a reflective Halo of light around the house

3)Eliminate places for prowlers to hide.

4)Lighting trees and plants from both the front and the back will eliminate shadow areas in the landscape


Landscape lighting for security allows the homeowner to quickly assess their property and determine that all is well.


ZONE System in Landscape Lighting Design

Landscape lighting is developing rapidly to include the ability to zone system and turn individual zones on or off depending on whether or not they're used.




We've already mentioned separating off activity areas in landscape lighting that need lots of light so that they can be turned off when not in use. But zoning outdoor living spaces or backyard lighting which do not necessarily need to be on all night will let you customize your property’s lighting level based on the activities going on at the home at the time.


Questions to ask yourself:

1)whether there are areas that need to be lit all the time

2)whether they want manual control over certain areas of the lighting system



A Little More Tips on Landscape Lighting Design

Sometimes you can design your own house and garden as some landscape lighting examples online. Of course, you don't need to copy it exactly, you can adjust the details to suit your own living space. The adjustment can be made in lots of ways. You can remove fixtures, adjust the light size, change the lenses, etc.




Last but not least, although solar energy is still a new technology, it is worth investing in solar energy for your home. The benefits are many. Solar lights will save you money and help the environment at the same time. If you a new to this technology, you can start by getting some solar lights for your garden and see how they perform. You may be surprised how well they work. I am sure solar lights can decorate your landscape well as the normal electrical lights.


Check our solar lights or principles of solar lighting in our website.

Hope you have a lovely and eco-friendly home.

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