Designing Your Home Outdoor Lighting System

When thinking about designing your outdoor lighting system you need to take a few things into consideration so you will get the greatest use and enjoyment of your yard. How you plan to use your yard will dictate some basic things that will need to be taken into account before one light switch is flipped. For instance what will you use to power your lights and where it is located, how many circuits will be needed and their position in the yard? Then there’s the all important decision on where to put the controls, you would be surprised at how often that is the last thing considered and can be the most important factor in creating beautiful outdoor lighting for your home. So go into this process with a little forethought and make it much easier on yourself.

Choosing the Type of Lighting

Find a legal pad or paper and pen for this next. You don’t have to be a graphic artist but just roughly draw out your yard and how you plan to use the different spaces. Once you’ve done this look at what lighting will best meet your needs in relation to how you plan to use that space.

Outdoor Lighting is basically broken up into five main categories:

Ornamental Lighting is used to highlight certain plants, trees or hardscape such as walls, fountains and statues.

Amenity Lighting is the kind of lighting we think of when considering function. What I mean by that is in the patio dining area we would probably have lighting that was a little brighter and focused on the table or eating area. It can also be used for safety purposes, for instance around the driveway area when drivers are pulling in or moving their cars they can see other vehicles and children that might be in the area.

Task Lighting would be considered focused Amenity Lighting, for instance a light attached to the barbecue grill so you can see what you’re doing or not doing and should be doing with the steaks! It would also be used in a work area like around a shed or a potting table.

Access Lighting is lighting we use to allow us to move around the yard. It could be along pathways from the deck to the pool, lighting on the steps and above doorways.

Security Lighting is just as it reads. It’s used to try and make your home look like the last place a thief wants to visit. We typically think of motion detector lights that will come on when someone walks in front of them making any burglary attempt much more difficult and way to risky for the burglar. It can also just give the illusion that the homeowners are in the house which that alone can be enough to deter a thief looking for an easy home to rob.

Some spaces in your rough draft will have more than one type of lighting serving the area. One example would be a pathway using access lighting as it winds through a wooded area that had a statue with ornamental lighting bringing attention to it features. Then there are some other lights that will be specific to certain areas like the swimming pool that will be lit by underwater lighting and a tennis court with its use of floodlights.

This is the first stage of creating year outdoor lighting plan and you should just focus on getting the basic rough draft completed and not worry too much about the details yet. In your next step you will begin to choose what kind of effects you want your lighting to provide in those spaces you have in your plan.

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