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Light the Way

Written by Renee Dustman
Imagery by Sandra Kicman

In the light of day, your home and garden look lovely, but how do they look at night? Evaluating your property after sunset is the first step to ensuring it’s lit appropriately. If your exterior property is cloaked in darkness, it’s neither inviting nor safe.
    Professional  “lightscaping” can transform your outdoor space, add value to your home, and improve overall functionality. There are several techniques lighting professionals use to accomplish these objectives.
Path and Step Lighting
Strategically placed low-level accent or specialty lights will safely guide you in and out of your home or business and around the property. LightScapes of WNY used this technique to light the
stone steps shown in photo 1.
    Generally, you should light the path from one end to the other using about one light every 4 to 5 feet in a staggered pattern, so as not to create a  “runway”  effect. Warm yellow light adds ambiance and prevents glare.
Backlighting architectural elements, shrubbery, statues, and other objects creates an appealing silhouette effect. This technique is used more for effect than function.
Area Lighting
Area lighting is a general term for a broad array of light fixtures designed to cover a wide area. This type of lighting is often used to fill in dark areas between focal points such as retaining walls, garden beds, specimen trees, and fountains.
    LightScapes of WNY owner Jay Zuppa used area lighting on the boulders shown in photo 2. “I always highlight boulders, ” Zuppa said.  “It looks fantastic and creates amazing shadows.”
This technique uses spot or accent floodlights to illuminate from below a specific object such as a flagpole, tree or house. Fixtures may be angled or pointed straight up.
    LightScapes of WNY used this technique to highlight the trees and grasses on the property shown in photo 3. Zuppa uses cool white LED bulbs to enhance the color of the foliage. Best practice is to angle the light so the entire object is illuminated.   
    Uplighting is also great for highlighting architectural elements for dramatic effect. LightScapes of WNY used this technique on the stone façade of the home shown in photo 4. The result is subtle shadows that add dimension – a technique known as  “grazing.”
This technique may be used to provide an area, such as a roof peak or soffit, with overhead light. Lighting of this nature serves as safety and security measures for your home or office. It can also be used for recreational purposes. LightScapes of WNY added downlighting to the built-in barbeque, shown in photo 5, to improve its nighttime use.
Another technique that is more form than function is moonlighting. Flood, spot, or accent lights with cool blue LED lamps are strategically placed within branches of trees, or shining through trees, to cast amazing shadows on the ground below, similar to those created by a full moon. The effect is mesmerizing.
Submersible Lighting
Pools, fountains, and ponds take on new life at night with underwater lighting. As shown in photo 6, cool white light intensifies color and shadow, creating a truly dramatic effect.
Take Control
Advanced lightscapes are surprisingly very low maintenance: LED bulbs are energy efficient and long-lasting. Even so, your exterior lighting will need occasional maintenance. Make sure to choose a lighting company that offers a service to change bulbs, clean lenses, and trim foliage away from fixtures.
    Controlling a professionally installed exterior lighting system is a breeze with a smart phone app. This technology allows you to set it and forget it or override the automatic settings to manually turn the system on or off, even when you’re not at home. You’ll never find yourself left out in the dark again. 

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