(ARA) - Landscape lighting used to be simple.
A few recessed cans lining the front path, a couple downlights tucked in the
trees, and you were done. Not anymore. When it comes to the great outdoors,
homeowners have seen the light.
"Today, people aren't just lighting up the
walkways so they can see their way to the door at night, and putting floods near
the garage. They're finding ways to illuminate the landscaping they've spent so
much time and money on so they can enjoy it at night," says Joe Rey-Barreau,
education consultant for the American Lighting
Association (ALA) and associate professor at the University of
tracks the latest trends among lighting dealers and designers and says, "This
spring, we're going to see a lot of changes in outdoor lighting practices.
Landscape lighting is now being used as a means to extend living space so people
can enjoy the best of both the inside and outside worlds. I see the focus this
spring being on techniques that bring light closer to the house, and make the
space more aesthetically pleasing in an unobtrusive manner," he says.
Gone are the days of the
big, bold lanterns that used to line people's walks. Rey-Barreau says this year,
the hottest trend will be to instead decorate with light from non-visible
sources. Among the options for this: uplighting, downlighting and
is produced by shining a light up on a tree, statue or bench in the yard to
highlight to give it definition, texture or even dimensionality. Downlighting is
created by hanging the light source in the trees or from the rooftop and shining
it on the area below. This technique is often used to improve visibility for
security reasons. And with shadowing you use spot or flood lights placed at
ground level, or in-ground fixtures placed in front of an object to throw its
shadow on a wall behind it as a decorative feature.
Richard Lentz, president of Lentz Landscape
Lighting in Dallas, Texas, says people's desire to enhance their outdoor living
space has played a big role in his business in recent years. "People have come
to realize it's a shame to just ignore all those great spaces they've created
outdoors because it's dark outside, so they're hiring us to come up with ways to
incorporate the landscape into their night life," says Lentz.
Two examples of how Lentz
uses lighting to transform a space for his clients:
For a courtyard off the dining room, kitchen
or even a bedroom, it is possible to create a moonlight effect that makes it
seem like the courtyard is part of the space. "In this situation, we would
install a Mercury Vapor light that casts cool light high in a tree to create the
effect of moonlight, and complement it with a halogen lamp that lights up a
fountain, sculpture or bench in the courtyard," says Lentz.
One of the most popular
ways to light a walkway is with a runway effect where there are lights on both
sides of the path, but Lentz says that distracts from the environment. "I prefer
to filter light through the trees above to light up a sidewalk or steps. It
gives you a real nice, natural effect."
While expanding living space and decorating
with lighting are popular reasons to put in landscape lighting, security is also
an important factor. Chris Primous, product manager for Progress Lighting says
he's seeing a trend towards people installing lighting that will keep their
homes bright and visible from the road.
"Just because the purpose of the light is
security doesn't mean it shouldn't be decorative," Primous says. "You can use
spotlights and flood lights to both light the area and accent prevalent
architectural features of the home's structure or notable landscaping
instance, if the home has a beautiful stone facade, a grazing technique with
carefully placed accent fixtures (ideally six to twelve inches from the surface)
will bring out the texture to create a visually stunning picture from the curb.
Similarly, tall columns can be highlighted by using closely placed
ground-mounted spotlights or in-grade fixtures with very narrow sources that
will really bring out the height and showcase the architectural features of the
Jeff Dross of
Kichler Lighting points out, "People have
come to realize that if you want your home's lighting job done right, you need
to bring in a professional. As you get more creative people involved, it leads
to more creative solutions and a better result. We're seeing a definite maturing
of the field."
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