Light Up Your Outdoor Life
Light Up Your Outdoor Life
Now, when the stars come out, you don’t have to go inside. With the right lighting, you can expand the use of your yard exponentially. And don’t just think tiki torches and patio lanterns – although those are great, too. These days, everything from spot to flood lights comes in different shapes, sizes and wattages to suit a variety of outdoor decorating styles.
And remember: Take the same approach to lighting your exterior as you would your interior, combining several types of lighting – ambient, accent, task and decorative – to set a mood, whether it’s warm, intimate and romantic or spectacular and dramatic. Like on any good stage set done properly, lighting serves both functional and aesthetic purposes: increasing safety and bringing out the beauty of your landscape’s details and architecture. Here, a primer on how to create enchanted spaces from summer into fall.
Illuminated plant pots and solar lights that look like patio lanterns, or that are encased within stepping stones, are creative and decorative ways to light your yard for outdoor entertaining. One can also attach lights to a patio umbrella or string fairy lights along the sides and top of your gazebo to simulate a starry night. Set trios of hurricane lamps of differing sizes on side tables to create a soft glow, or hang a dozen flickering votives in jars from your trees to make it look like the fireflies have come out to play. Whatever lights or lamps you choose, watch how they quickly transform the open space into an intimate backyard room once the sun sets.
Downlighting creates soft illumination from above. To create a dappled moonlight effect, position a wide flood spotlight high in a tree, angled down. It will brighten branches and leaves in its path and cast shadows on the ground. For a full-moon effect, place lights pointing up from the base of the tree and down from the top.
Uplighting acts the same way as focused accent lighting inside your home. By illuminating objects from below, you create dramatic focal points. Save it for garden sculptures, shrubs or trees that you want to highlight. The effect you achieve depends on the angle of the light: If you want to emphasize the texture of a tree trunk, install lights near the base of the tree. If you want to illuminate the leaves, install lights farther away. Place lights behind plants, trees or landscape art to cast shadows and emphasize their silhouettes, or illuminate a lighter-coloured wall or fence behind them.
Area lights and Path lighting
Similar to ambient light indoors, area light is general floodlighting that washes larger spaces in a soft glow. Use it on sections of lawn, hedges, patios or conversation corners. Then approach the lighting of your driveways, walkways and steps as task lighting, which provides both safety and beauty. Likewise, path lighting. Position a series of downlights on alternating sides of your walk or steps to ensure light spreads horizontally in muted pools. The best bets are safe and affordable low-voltage fixtures that are less than two feet high.
Planned wisely, lighting brings depth and dimension to your yard, creating romantic outdoor dining nooks, turning ordinary plants into art and adding drama to your home’s exterior architecture. Much of its beauty, however, is its ability to stretch time: Because, as we know, a summer yard that’s illuminated properly and beautifully encourages lingering long past one’s usual bedtime.
- The secret to lighting is to contrast. Play with the light and shadows. Illuminating your whole yard is overwhelming and dilutes the visual impact. Determine focal points, whether it’s the patio table on the deck, a door, fountain or tree. Don’t choose too many. A couple is enough.
- Be careful with colour. White light is best and makes plants look healthy. Yellow tones can make green plants look sick.
- Incandescent bulbs provide natural, warm light. You’ll get whiter, brighter light from quartz-type bulbs, whereas tungsten halogens are lower voltage, last longer and use less electricity, but they get extremely hot.
- Low-voltage and energy-efficient lights like LEDs on a timer are great. Solar-powered lights are good, too, but may run out of power before the end of a long night, so don’t use them in key spaces where lighting is essential.
Contact your REALTOR at Coldwell Banker Vantage Realty for more tips and advice on your home renovations.