Lighting for trees is much different than lighting for homes, paths or other landscaping. And, this varies even further depending on the height of the tree and the desired effect. In a very broad stroke, we can classify tree lighting in the categories of either uplighting or downlighting.
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Uplighting is the most common form of tree lighting. Uplighting is using a land-mounted fixture to direct light up at the trunk, the under canopy or the entire canopy of the tree. For the first two, the fixture will be mounted in very close proximity to the tree. With ground-mounted lighting, you always want to be very careful not to direct the fixture in such an angle that it could shine directly into people’s eyes. Light blinding by poor fixture placement or incorrect fixture or bulb selection is one of the cardinal sins of outdoor lighting.
When lighting the full canopy of the tree, you will need to mount the fixture a particular distance from the tree to ensure that the beam is not interrupted by the underside of the canopy. This presents an even trickier challenge because you want to avoid light blinding. You also want to mount the fixture in an area where there is no foot traffic to protect the fixture and the home’s residents and guests.
Downlighting is an effect that is not commonly used although it is gorgeous. Perhaps the reason that it’s not commonly used is because the lights need to be mounted in the tree and almost always this needs to be done not only by a trained professional but by someone with the equipment to scale various sized trees.
But, the effect is stunning. Downlighting is designed to cast light down through the leaves and branches of the tree. This creates an effect similar to the shadows that are created naturally by the sun. Good outdoor lighting design seeks to emulate the effects of natural lighting. Natural lighting effects such as shadow are familiar and therefore comforting and soothing.
Regardless of the lighting effect you’re thinking of using on your trees, call out a trained designer for some lighting insight and advice. With any reputable company, the consultation will be free. At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we also provide a free demonstration so you can see exactly how your trees will look with outdoor tree lighting.
Here is a list of our locations nationwide. Give us a ring to have us come out and do a free consultation or free demonstration for you.