5 Outdoor Lighting Design Take-Aways

lansdcape lighting illuminates a river birch and japanese maple

I recently attended the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals conference in Atlanta, and I wanted to share some take-aways for all of the design professionals who may work with lighting to a lesser degree:

  1. Using more fixtures with less wattage per fixture (along with varying your beam spread and shielding) will help to eliminate “hot spots”, glare, and light leaking into areas where you don’t want it.
  2. Light conifers from the outside to emphasize the form of the plant, since the trunk area is rarely attractive.
  3. LED technology is constantly improving, and has the potential to save a lot of money on electricity and maintenance, as the lamps last longer and use less energy than halogens. Experiment with LED lamps to see whether they will suit your purpose, particularly the new scalable ones which allow you to adjust beam spread and brightness. Be sure to test retrofit LEDs for compatibility with existing fixtures before you order!
  4. Down-lighting from tall trees can be an effective way to give a moonlit effect to an area, but not all species of tree are appropriate. Fast-growing trees like river birches or weak-branched trees like pines may cause maintenance troubles if lights are mounted within their branches.
  5. As with planting design, landscape lighting designers must begin with a consideration of how to maintain a landscape lighting system. Even high-quality fixtures and lamps need periodic adjustment as plants grow, replacement of spent bulbs, and to be kept clear of debris and inspected for corrosion or wear.

What is your biggest challenge in lighting outdoor spaces? Let us know in the comments!