Getting Started with Landscape Lighting

R. L. Rhodes
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Difficulty: Beginner
Duration: 2 hours

Path lighting makes your landscape inviting to visitors and safe for friends and family. It can also deter less welcome guests.

Uplit trees and path lighting.

Proper lighting is not only a way to extend the appeal of your landscape into the evening hours. An illuminated landscape is a safe landscape. Path lighting makes your landscape inviting to visitors and safe for friends and family. Illuminating the dark wells of shadow in your landscape can also deter less welcome guests.

The steps that follow will help you plan out a lighting system for making your landscape more visible at night. Installing low-voltage system is a good way to make your lighting system more energy efficient. Using solar-powered lamps can lower your electric costs even more.

Having planned the general layout, you can start assembling your system. Take a look at the fixtures available at the Home Depot to get a sense of your options.

Landscape lights.

For lighting paths, you’ll want to illuminate near the feet, without casting a blinding glare into your guest’s eyes. Low-voltage, downward facing lamps work well in that context. You’ll need more of them, but the overall energy cost will be lower.

Another way to reduce murky shadows is to uplight the trees in your landscape. For that, you’ll use stake-mounted spotlights or in-ground lamps. It’s important to avoid overdoing it, both for the health of your trees and the sanity of your neighbors.

The lamps in some lighting systems require some assembly before you can install them. Follow the directions included with the kit.

Hampton Bay solar path lights

For instructions on properly wiring the system, see our project guide on installing low-voltage outdoor lighting. Before any project that requires digging, be sure to call 811 to check on the location of underground utilities in your yard.

Once the system is completely wired, test it to make sure each lamp in the sequence is lighting correctly. Get a broad view of the entire system to see if you’ve inadvertently left dark any patches that should be lit and adjust the placement of your lamps as needed.

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