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Decorative Landscape Lighting

by Hal Major

Decorative landscape lighting is one of the fastest growing areas in lighting design. More and more homeowners and business are upgrading their outside lighting. The concern is not just one of security and safety, but also one to beautify their property or business.

Landscape lighting needs to be carefully planned to take into consider not only its look, but its overall effect on your landscape as a whole. It is unfortunate that there are so many bad lighting designs. The poor placement of the lighting fixtures and the use of the wrong fixtures or products cause a variety of problems. The most common are glare and “light trespass”. Light trespass is where the light from one source lights-up or shines on an adjacent property. Also, a coomon problem is carelessly positioned lights that create “sky glow”. Sky glow is light that goes upwards or bounces up from a reflective surface.

Many large cities now have regulations to prevent this. These regulations are commonly referred to “dark sky” ordinances. The idea, of course, is to control the so-called “light pollution”. The regulations often specify the types of bulbs, reflectors, cut-off angles and shields that can be employed on new or existing structures. Whether you live in a community that has a dark sky ordinance or not, there are several good reasons for following these basic concepts with your home landscape lighting scheme.

When you are buying fixtures look for those that point most of their light down towards the ground. This helps to reduce glare and actually improves the visibility of your property and home. You save money and energy by reducing the number of lights needed and the wattage of the bulbs you use. This called “down lighting” and it improves the look of your home and property by creating a more subtle and visually appealing effect (curb appeal).

Here are a few quick tips:

• Consider using photoelectric eye controlled outdoor fixtures that turn when it gets dark and turn off when it's light.

• Try reducing the wattage of your outdoor bulbs from 100 to 50 watts. Nice landscape lighting is not supposed to be overly bright, unless your yard is the parking lot at the local mall.

• Landscape lighting for driveways, walkways and garden areas should direct all of their light down to the ground.

• Avoid wasting your light, money and energy by lighting up the sky. The exception allowed is a floodlight pointed at the American flag, if left out at night.

• Be considerate of your neighbors (even if they are not) by avoiding light trespass and blinding glare. Use the most efficient bulb suitable for the area and fixture.

If you're not certain on how to plan efficiently your landscaping scheme or how to properly install the decorative landscaping light system, then give your local landscape designer and contractor a call. They will be happy to work with you to make sure you get exactly what you want so your home and property could adorn the cover of a home beautiful magazine.

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