By Brandon Kuehler, CLVLT, COLD, Light It Right
Everyone knows that one house when you drive by it… the landscape is meticulous and well thought out. We all envy that house and wish ours could look just like it. A great landscape plan can make or break a homes curb appeal, but what happens at night…. it disappears into the darkness.
Adding lighting to a landscape design will ensure that your amazing layout is not lost within the dark abyss of the evening, while creating depth and additional curb appeal that is lost when the sun goes down. Lighting will also highlight your design in ways that are never achieved during the day.
Design is key in both the landscape plan and the lighting plan. The lighting and the landscape have to play nice for both to look their best. A bad lighting design can destroy a beautifully designed landscape – creating shadows in the wrong place, hotspots showing up at the bases of trees or architecture, as well as many other non desirable outcomes. Knowing which fixture, bulb, and placement for the intended application is crucial – an experienced lighting designer will know when a well light is going to give you the best output over a spot light, for example. Many designs are spec’d out by inexperienced designers or distributors that do not know the proper application for a product, or do not look at the plant being used or account for its size.
After designing your lighting plan along with the landscape comes installation – this will usually be after the landscape has gone in or along side the planting. Ensuring the lighting is initially set up per plan is key. Of course changes will occur once lighting and planting is set up – plants are not the size originally quoted, different plants or trees go in, some are cut, some are added – flexibility is key. When changes do occur (and they will) go back to the original plan and check if there is anywhere else a no longer need fixture could be useful and what will be the best for that changed area – is it more fixtures, less, different ones all together? May just need a different bulb. Remember: Lighting Is to ENHANCE the Landscape Not to INTERFERE with it – the best lighting design is one you cannot identify the light source.
Lighting Gone Bad
Hey it happens – lighting professionals can have the best intentions and the design still goes downhill. No matter how experienced one may be, some projects are over ones head. If you have a design that is not working for your landscape plan (or the lighting designer is not working out) it can be fixed… most of the time. Look for a lighting designer that has the ability to take a current lighting system and rework it, not all can do this – it is a learned skill over many years. It may be an easy fix with just slight repositions and bulb changes or it could be more complex where the system in its entirety needs to be removed due to poor installation. Keep in mind – You Get What You Pay For – if someones quote is drastically less than others there is usually a reason why. In the repair world knowledge is key to correct a system that is in poor condition or needs a tune up.