Outside lights have 4 main functions

  • Access: To direct the safe movement of people around the property

  • Security: To discourage people entering the property uninvited

  • Usability: To allow the garden to be used at night as an extension of the inside

  • Aesthetics: To allow the landscape to be admired 24/7 from both inside and outside the house

There are 5 main types of lighting effect

Up-lighting, Downlighting, Spotlighting, Path Lighting and Backlighting and we will start with taking a quick look at each.

Architectural and landscape elements such as buildings, walls, fences and pergolas become dramatic features when illuminated from below. Especially when light sources can be hidden using flare shields or foundation planting.

Outside Lighting - Up Lighting.</p> <p>

Up lighting focuses light and attention on an object from a low fixed location. The object can be a shrub, tree or architectural feature like a gazebo, arbour or wall sculpture.

The fixtures and lamp strengths are specified according to the mature size of the plant or the size of the hardscape area to be illuminated.

Well-lights are extremely effective for aiming light up a tree or column. They should be located 2 to 4 feet from the trunk base for small ornamental trees to light the canopy. Or for mature trees like Oak or Beech, close to the base and positioned so the light grazes the side of the trunk and illuminates the upper branch structure.

Outside Lighting - Downlighting

Another technique is downlighting or moonlighting. Usually accomplished with bullet type fixtures placed well above eye level on a structure (or even in a tree), this technique illuminates general areas for safety, security and aesthetics. Fixtures and lamps are chosen for the required brightness and width of illumination.

Special hanging fixtures known as “tree” fixtures are also available. You can also use downlighting to highlight a smaller area or single feature or to create a sense of perspective. Lighting from above can provide both security and aesthetics

Outside Lights: Spotlighting

This technique uses a strong, narrowly focused beam of light. Spotlighting is great for sculptures, statues, address number signs, landscape features and flagpoles. 

Outside Lights: Backlighting<br />

Backlighting is a technique where an aura or corona is generated around an object by projecting a light onto the back of it. Most of the direct light is blocked from view by the object itself, but some of the light leaks around to outline the object with a “glowing” effect.

Outside Lights: Underwater Lighting<br />

Lighting of swimming pools can add a dramatic effect. If you insist on underwater lighting the water ideally needs to be chlorinated or you should expect to be underwhelmed.

When dealing with a submerged light source, expected results may differ from the actual effect.

There are 3 main conditions that will modify or change your beam spread as well as light intensity.

These are:

  • Depth: the deeper the water, the more the light will widen or spread. Not recommended for applications deeper than 4 feet.  The impact or effects will be greatly reduced.

  • Clarity: clean or clear water will produce maximum quantity of light. Alga will reduce the light dramatically. The cloudier the water, the more wattage or tighter beam spread will be needed to see the impact of the light source and its effect.

  • Movement: water movement will distort or increase the beam spread. The top of the water acts as the lens. Clear lens or no movement, the beam will remain truer and more accurate. The more movement, the larger increase in spread, not to mention constant light movement.

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