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Garden Lighting Effects

With garden lighting, there are several different lighting effects you may be trying to achieve:

  • path lighting to illuminate a garden path
  • illuminating low-lying plants or flowers
  • up-lighting larger plants and trees

To illuminate low-lying plants or flowers, a down-light is best. A down light has a dome of some sort that guides the flow of light downward. This creates the subtle illumination effect that allows you to see an enjoy your beautiful low-lying flowers and plants in the evening.

low lying garden light

This domed down light is a copper path light. What’s nice about this fixture is you don’t see the light source (the bulb) but gently cascading around the beautiful copper fixture, you see the very gentle light that it outputs. This fixture is low voltage.

You can also use the path light to illuminate a garden pathway.

garden path lighting

When you have a beautiful brick, sand, grove stone or paver path winding through your garden, you want just enough light be be fully capable of walking the path safely but not so much light as to lose the romantic evening effect of enjoying your garden.

With path lights, it’s important to ensure 2 things:

1) You don’t want to see the light bulb itself with a fixture that has an exposed light bulb. How many times have we seen that runway effect of solar lights down a path and all we really focus on is the sort of runway effect that they create.

2) You also want to insure that you are using a domed light. The dome that protects and covers the bult casts the light in the path light down also creates the Garden lighting copper path romance of subtle lighting.

For larger plants and trees, you will want to use either a bullet light or a well light. Both of these lights cover the light source (bulb) so it doesn’t ever blind the eye of a passer-by. The second feature that these light fixtures accomplish is the direction of the lighting. You want to be able to point the light in one direction and shield it from another direction. It’s so very important with outdoor lighting to make sure never to blind anyone with the light. Good lighting design will make sure to accomplish this objective.

Here are a couple examples of tree lighting and tree lighting techniques:

tree with moonlighting

Above you see an example of tree down lighting. This lighting effect is seldom used because of the complexity of installing this lighting. The light fixture needs to be installed in the tree and designed to shine gentle light down through the branches.

The effect of down lighting from a tree is a relatively similar effect to daytime lighting but much more romantic since the low voltage light is gentle and filtered through the evening light.

The next type of tree lighting is tree up lighting.

tree uplighting by pool

This is the more conventional type of tree lighting. By using either a bullet light or a well light near to the base of the tree, you are able to cast the light up the trunk and through the branches of the tree to accomplish shadow and depth in your lighting design.

When using tree uplighting, it’s nice to select specific trees to illuminate. You do not need to uplight every tree in the area but want to create sort of a column effect by carefully selecting well-spaced trees to create a “scene” in the area you’re illuminating. Then, in that area, you can use path lighting to illuminate the low lying flowers and plants.

The next type of tree lighting is palm tree lighting. Palm trees are a special tree not just because of their beauty but because, by design, they are a perfect candidate for uplighting. They have broad trunks and the palm fronds can be so artfully illuminated with one very well placed light from the ground.

The last type of tree lighting is focal tree lighting.

focal lighting on tree

Focal tree lighting is used to illuminate either spectacular trees as you see above or to illuminate just a few special trees within your landscaping.

Send us some pictures of your landscaping and we’ll send you back some garden lighting ideas.

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