If you’ve spent time and money improving your yard space only to find yourself being forced inside when the sun goes down, it might be time to consider some lighting upgrades. Outdoor lights are hugely popular and relatively inexpensive, offering a way for homeowners to spend more time enjoying their outdoor space without the limitations of daylight.
But while installing outdoor lighting is as easy as buying lights and plugging them in (or easier still with solar lights), creating a tasteful and effective lighting setup takes a little more thought.
Define The Purpose
Why do you want lights in the first place? Is it so that you can cook out on the grill and enjoy a meal on the deck with friends and family? Or is it so the kids can play in the yard at dusk without fear of tripping or other hazards?
No matter what the purpose of your new outdoor lighting setup, it’s important to know what your reasons for wanting extra light are before you head to the store. Once you’ve nailed down the important parts, it’ll be easier to decide exactly what style of lights will work best for you, and how many you’ll need.
Sketch It Out
It doesn’t have to be an artistic masterpiece, but having a sketch of your yard (including some measurements) can be a huge help when it comes to planning out a lighting setup. It’s important to include existing lights, large objects or buildings (such as sheds or garden containers), and any substantial vegetation (trees, shrubs, etc.). Looking at the big picture will help you figure out exactly what you need.
There are several important areas that you may want to consider lighting in your yard space, and each one comes with different opportunities and challenges:
- Landscaping. Tasteful lighting of vegetation around the yard can be a great opportunity to make your hard work shine; and lighting a line of trees along a fence, for example, can provide a natural reflector that can illuminate more of your yard with even fewer lights!
- Decorations. Highlighting yard decorations like fountains and water features with soft lighting can be a major enhancement to their aesthetic appeal. There’s nothing quite like the soft glow of a bubbling fountain on a warm summer night.
- Pathways. Pathway lighting is important, not just for aesthetics but for safety! Having a well lit walkway, especially if it’s formed out of imperfect or uneven stone or wood, can make your yard an easier, safer place to enjoy after dark.
Once you’ve decided what kind of lights you want, and where, you can start the process of selecting different styles and fixtures. Depending on how much effort you want to expend, you may choose primarily solar lighting (which doesn’t require a lot of extra effort with running and concealing cords) or you might go with a more permanent solution. There are hundreds of options available to you, so once you’ve got the basics down it’ll be easier to pick the best one!