How Many Landscape Lights Do I Need?

Light-Bulb-Question-Mark-300x300This is one of the most frequently asked questions we hear. To help answer this question, we need to ask why the homeowner wants landscape lighting in the first place. The number of lights will be determined by the client’s answer to our question. Each project is as unique as each homeowner, and there is wide range of very subjective answers.

For example:

  • You just want to light the walkway from the driveway to the front door? The distance is only 25’? The answer is three pathway lighting fixtures. BOOM DONE! Right? Not exactly. You forgot to tell me that you have a 50’ tall live oak tree right there next to the walkway. In that case, one down light fixture installed about 25’ high, with a 60 degree beam should do the trick. BOOM DONE! Right? Not necessarily. There are always more possibilities.
  • You love to spend time in your back yard, and even entertain every now and then; so you want it to look pretty and have enough light for your guests to move around. Now we’re looking at task lighting, as well as ambient lighting. Do you have exterior lights on your house (and I’m not talking about those awful flood lights on the corner of your eves either)? Depending on the exterior lights, you may not need much for task lighting, and need more “pretty” lighting. Again, lots of possibilities.

So, what is the simple answer? Well, honestly, it all depends. (Isn’t that what everyone says?) It’s true, every home is different and every yard is different. Every client has a different view of their own home, and what they want as well. Knowing why the homeowner wants lighting is as critical as any other design tool. Lighting designers can look at the fixture or lamp photometric charts to determine the beam spread and light output of the fixture to help determine the proper fixture and placement to take care of the job. This means that the designer needs to do a site visit and take some measurements to insure they specify the proper fixture and or lamp for each application. But, we still need to identify what the application is serving.

The size and shape of plants and flower beds will also be a factor in counting the number of fixtures needed. Personally, I tend to use more fixtures in my designs because I like to create focal points, and use layers of light to bring out the very best in each property. But also, more light isn’t always the right answer for every property, either.

So here’s the answer: It will either be a few or a lot, and I usually use more than a few but less than too many. I have projects featuring one or two carefully placed lights, and I have projects with over 200 fixtures on one acre of land. As long as the homeowner’s desires are fulfilled, and they are happy with the project, we consider it a success.

Of course, that 200+ fixture project has been featured on more than one magazine cover because it looks REALLY good.

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