A Bright Idea

Filed in Landscaping by on May 16, 2014

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives 1One of the ideal ways to unwind after a long day at the office (or on the water) is to head out to your patio. Whether you grill and have a glass of wine with friends or just curl up with a good book, your patio offers a peaceful respite. However, without the proper lighting, your enlightening evening may turn pretty dull. Lucky for you, today’s lighting options are practical, pretty and sure to pump up your patio’s atmosphere.


The first thing you want to do when upgrading or installing patio lighting is to decide what you want to achieve. Are you looking for added security, wishing to accent a flag pole in the front yard or wanting to add ambiance to your patio or deck? One you’re armed with that information, it’s easier to decide on the type of lighting to buy and where to place it.


The best-selling patio light option on the market is called a dome or down-light. It essentially looks like a light fixture that stands vertically with a canopy. “These are a staple in landscape lighting, regardless of how simple landscape_large_8or complex your lighting is,” says Kathy Klug, assistant manager at Valley Lights in Fargo. You want to make sure, however, that you choose a good light source if you install dome lighting since it radiates downward. Strong options are the Bi-Pin Halogen bulb and newest generation LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs.


New styles that are gaining ground are copper-based fixtures that patina naturally, rather than powder coating fixtures, says Mark Strand, owner of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of North Dakota. Strand also says more people are pursuing lighting fixtures that blend into the landscape instead of standing out as a source of illumination.


“People don’t want their lights to be the focal point of the landscape,” he says. Strand also cautions against using only down-lighting. “Incorporate up-lighting of certain features such as a home front or trees.”


A couple of dated styles to avoid are multi-tiered black lights and plastic brick lights. Both Klug and strand agree their popularity has passed.


At this point, you’ve identified what you want to achieve with your lighting upgrade and decided on the style of fixture. Now comes the hard part: Do you install it yourself or hire a professional? Your answer may depend on a couple of factors.


Outdoor Lightin Perspectives 2The first thing to consider is cost. Strand says a typical 10-light landscape installation by a professional could cost between $2,000 and $3,500. This includes fixtures, transformers and wire, plus initial research and design.


Other than the layout, Strand says most landscape lighting companies will sell those items to costumers wishing to complete a project themselves. You will save money if you do that, but you will need to find out what warranty exists. “In most cases, you are now subject to dealing with the manufacturer, not the landscape lighting company,” he says. That could be an issue if a problem arises with the equipment, he adds.


Another deciding factor is time. “An all-encompassing project can be very time consuming,” says Klug. Not only do you have to create the landscape design yourself, you have to research what items to buy, how to put them in (if you don’t already know how), complete the actual installation and troubleshoot any problems along the way.


For this reason, Klug recommends sticking with a professional. She says landscape lighting experts can cut your project time in half and, as the old saying goes, time is money.


A final consideration is preserving your project. If you install it yourself, you will likely need to perform some sort of upkeep for years to come. This can be an enjoyable process, especially if you took a liking to the do-it-yourself aspect of your installation. The same upkeep will be needed for a professional install, but you can subscribe to an annual maintenance program to help catch any potential issues early. “Whether it’s a burned out bulb, cut wire or overgrown landscape, a professional will be on-call to service their clients,” says Strand.


by Patricia Carlson


Photography Source: Outdoor Lighting Perspectives – www.outdoorlights.com


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