Every year at this time I get a chance to slip away down south for a little r & r. Each trip, I try and learn something new from the landscape designers and gardeners that I can bring home to Canada and share with all of you. This year, I really noticed the impact that outdoor lighting had on transforming the trees, paths and overall outdoor spaces. Too often the lighting is the last thing we invest in when it comes to our gardens but the impact of good lighting at night is amazing. I blame tv for the lack of landscape lighting in our yards. Not because of what is on tv, but because of when we watch it. I spend every evening indoors watching some show that I don’t want to fall behind on. Because I never really see the yard at night, the lack of good lighting is never an issue. This is the year to change all of that. If you want to light up the yard like a pro, here are a few key tips to doing it right
Path lights are more than just a small down light that shines on the edge of the walkways, they are also a fantastic way to make you space safer at night by highlighting steps, edges and the uneven spots in the path. The rule though for spacing is one light every 6-8 feet. You can definitely go closer together for more of an impact but you run the risk of having your path look like a landing strip for an airplane.
Up-lighting and Down-lighting are literally directional lights that draw your eye in a specific route. I use up lighting to highlight stunning trees that have great canopies. By placing an up-light at the base of the trunk, they draw the eye to the points of interest you want your guests and passersby to notice. You can also use this type of light to really create focal points in your home. Try putting an up-light at a corner of your house or under a decorative detail like a bay window in the front. This definitely adds stunning impact to the fixtures that set your house apart. Down-lighting works it the exact opposite way (surprise!). I like to think of down-lighting like the street lights alongside the road. The higher up you put the light, the larger the area they illuminate. Most designers will put down lights on walls outdoors, often at the front door to flood the front step or the front flowerbeds. I like to put the in trees as well to add light to gardens below (especially my large hostas!). Remember, your eye naturally moves away from the dark patches so down-lights make a space feel smaller and more intimate because they pull your eye towards the ground while up-lights make a space feel expansive and larger because they draw you up into the starry night.
There is one other very good reason to add lights to your front yard this year! The online experts agree that a majority of buyers in the market will drive past a home after work to check out the neighbourhood. Adding lights to showcase the best parts of your yard and your home adds impact and value. Set your home apart with some subtle night lights!