Think about this page title for a moment. You can be creative … if … you use a few landscape lighting ideas. What exactly do you want from your landscape lighting? Just the usual standard fare – a light above the door, a spotlight at the back of the house and maybe a few stick-in solar lights along the flower bed? Or do you want to make a statement and have something beautiful to be proud of? The purpose of this post is to get you thinking a little and get your creative juices flowing. If you simply want the standard fare then that’s fine – just buy some lights!
The different categories of landscape lighting were mentioned in a previous post (click the link to view it). Now we need to look at ways of using the many different types of outdoor lights available to create something a little different with our lighting designs. We all know a floodlight will light the backyard, and decking lights light the deck area – how we can make it all interesting and exciting is the trick.
Feel free to check out the links on this page for more information and a place to buy some of the products mentioned.
I’ve Never Been the Creative Type
So what? Me neither – but experience over the years of buying and installing landscape lighting has taught me quite a bit. One of the best ways to start is by looking at pictures and product catalogs. If you can view gardens with good lighting designs all the better. This basic process will start your ideas flowing, you will recognize elements you like and what may suit your home. A little time is all it takes.
Landscape Lighting Ideas – the Overall Picture
The best and most effective designs will combine a few different lighting elements. A mix of lighting types will give depth to the plan. The overall picture needs to have areas of bright light – around the front door or barbeque for example, linked to areas of softer more subtle light effects – seating by the patio or pool area. All bright or all subtle is not as effective as a good balance of the two. The mixture can be added by using different kinds of outdoor lighting – solar garden lights tend to be quite soft, as do LED lights. Halogen garden lights on the other hand are strong and quite harsh, associated with outdoor security lights. When crafting a plan think where needs to be bright for safety or security and where is best to be subtle and soft. Now you need some ideas.
Use Conventional Lights in Unconventional Ways!
Spotlights don’t have to be spotlights. Use spots to frame an area – place them at ground level and point them along the edge of a path or around the perimeter of the patio. This effect is great but the secret is to only use a few to outline the area. Another variation I have used is to criss cross them along the surface of a walkway every few meters.
Floodlights – shine them from the ground up through a mature tree or shrub, add a colored light effect if you are really adventurous.
LED string lights are like puppies in my book – not just for Christmas! Use them entwined through your favorite tree or wrapped around a garden gazebo or trellis.
The point here is to think away from the common uses we have all seen for traditional landscape lights. Do not be afraid to experiment a little to find what works. Try the lights in place for a few nights before burying cables and making them permanent – trial and error works wonders.
New Landscape Lights – New Uses
Today we have access to fairly inexpensive garden lights that simply did not exist a few years ago, we can use these to create more unique light designs. LED garden lights have come a long way in recent years and have a unique effect if used correctly. LED lights have many advantages such as energy saving and are quite eco friendly, however they just look fantastic and modern to me. LED string lights are a favorite, use them along the underside of the edge of a deck to see the result. The light shines between the deck boards and frames the area beautifully – truly unique.
Fiber Optic lights are another fairly recent addition. They are appearing now in what I would call artistic lighting displays. Use as focal points or just as fun lights in the garden. My children love them – they come in many styles, shaped like birds or butterflies etc. Keep an eye on these types of lights, they will grow in popularity, quality and the artistic styles will become close to that of modern sculpture with artists creating unique designs for wealthy customers.
Introduce a Little Color to Your Garden Lights
There are several ways to add color to your garden lighting. Many lights can be fitted with light filters or color gels as they are known. Other lights like LEDs can actually emit colored light. You can even make your own lights colored with some watered down paint or an acetate filter placed in front of the light. Care needs to be taken with using color in my opinion, too much or in the wrong situation can look quite horrific. Used correctly it creates a stunning look. You can make a focal point very effectively with a single colored spotlight. It is often a case of trial and error to see what works well but avoid using many different colors in one garden.
Virtually any landscape light you buy can be used in an inventive way but avoid the temptation to add too many lights to a garden, it just looks tatty. This is the key to creating great designs by using great landscape lighting ideas. Think a little and try it. In the old days you bought a garden light, put it in place and that was it! Learn to try your lights in different combinations and in different places before settling on their final spot. When you are happy with the effects – you are done!