“A SATURDAY NIGHT TIME LIGHTING DESIGN SCHEME”
Usually, it’s hard for me to find some time to just ‘play around with light’. Rarely, it happens to me, like a Saturday night back in July. While sitting in the backyard and brainstorming about a new design for the garden, I started to sketch a simplistic light scheme and brought it into practice right away. Just because it’s fun. If you want to enjoy your garden after dark, proper garden lighting is essential. After considering the ‘do’s and don’ts’, I finally decided to draft this blogpost to capture all the thoughts I made. Others might find this kind of ‘hobby work’ as interesting as I do, or simply struggle with selecting proper lighting for their garden. No matter what, some Lighting Inspiration is always welcome to anyone!
The result is a basic but (hopefully) helpful guide to support you getting your best light scheme in place. I tried to make it all as practical as possible, incorporating some technology research as well. Think of light source selection, CCT definition, choosing the right illumination optics, selecting new ways of fabrication, etcetera. I’ve finally been making some custom solutions myself using inventive 3D printing technologies, certainly another interesting perspective to discover.
Garden Lighting – Purely Functional or Subtle and Stylish?
Garden lighting schemes are highly variable: they can meet the basics of ‘enabling you to see in the dark’, or they can play an integral role to the overall design of the garden. To achieve the latter, the best approach is to consider lighting at the same time as you design the garden itself. That way, the garden design and lighting scheme should work in the right harmony together. However, if you are thinking about lighting after your garden is already established, the number one rule is to resist the urge to floodlight your garden. Instead, use lighting strategically and pick out specific objects like plants and trees to illuminate. They will help you find your way around when its dark, to create the right mood and to differentiate different garden zones.
Selecting the Right Lighting Type
There are a great variety of lighting types you could consider to bring out the features of your garden lighting design and to tailor your lighting for certain spaces:
- Spot- / Accent Lighting: Recessed spot lights can be either mounted up- or downwards (or have a combination of both) to accentuate or illuminate certain objects, or just be used for general lighting purposes. They are great for providing illumination for walls and to be used at the base of trees;
- Linear Lighting: ideal for recessed, surface and suspended lighting, delivering a high-quality, diffuse light with little glare;
- Flood Lighting: pole and surface mount up-lights are ideal for illuminating garden walls, trees and other garden design features that merit attention;
- String / Strip Lighting: soft and friendly light that comes mostly in flexible chains or strips, perfect to light the outdoor dining area, pergolas, or trees in a decorative or even romantic way;
- Post Lighting: orientation lighting; perfect for improving navigation and safety around the pathways of your garden at night time;
- Ground Level Lighting: integrated in decking, pavements and stairs, this can look highly sophisticated and design full.
Post-Top-Lights: perfect for illumination a pavement or walk way.
Garden Lighting Considerations
There are a lot of topics to consider before doing the outdoor light installation. First, it’s important to thoroughly research the technology available, estimate the implications of electricity cost, the fixtures required and the lifespan of specific light sources. Most lights are available in low-voltage options which are safer and easier to install. Some lights require an electric power source and wiring. Then there is lifespan to bear in mind — certain materials will survive better than others when subjected to rain and wind. Lights with durable stainless steel or brass housings are recommended for a durable withstanding of the outdoor elements.
Uplights mounted at the base of trees results in great light play.
Colerrated Color Temperature (CCT): warm, cool, neutral or RGB?
Choosing the “colour of light” emitted by a light source was not a choice that was generally made before. With some LED products, there is a choice of colours, choosing a colour will set the mood of your space. Correlated Colour temperature (CCT) in lighting describes how the colour of the light appears from a lamp. It is measured in kelvins (K). Imagine a scale from 1,000K (reddish) to 10,000K (blueish). The higher up the scale you go, the closer the light resembles blue daylight, the higher the colour temperature the “cooler” a lamp will look.
Selecting either a ‘warm’ light source or a ‘cool’ light source significantly impacts the total ambient temperature. Generally spoken, warm white light calls-up warmer color tints from certain objects, such as wood, sand stone, among others, and gives the warmer ‘candle-light’ feeling. Cool white light sources, on the contrary, better combine with stone, granite, concrete, etcetera. If you’re hesitating, applying neutral white light might be an option, it flattens out the contrasts a bit. There are simply no rules – the choice is about personal preference and use. If you like the traditional yellowish colour of a conventional lamp then warm white around (2,700 – 3,000K) would be the ideal choice. If you want a modern, clean look, you may prefer the brighter feel of a cool white lamp (4,000 – 5,000K).
Also, a mixture of various CCT’s might result in wonderful solutions. There is no reason why you could not have a mixture in the same setting. For example, warm white for the main area’s and cool white for accentuated areas. Application of colored RGB light is another consideration you could make, but likely limited in residential lighting applications since its more decorational and artistic than functional light.
When illuminating pure white objects or walls, the impact of differences in color temperature will be most visible. In that case, only limited light is absorbed by the illuminated texture itself and the reflective values are high, which will also impact the overal ambient temperature. Moreover, it positively impacts the energy efficiency since there’s simply less light (power!) needed for the illumination thanks to the light ‘transmitted’ bu the reflective surfaces.
Up & Down Spotlighting – all sketches are prepared in a warm and cool white version. See what different color temperatures can do!
Why Great Garden Lighting Matters
If you’ve put a lot of effort into making your house and garden look just right, then it would be a shame to let the appearance suffer after nightfall. Poor lighting can be a weak link in your garden design. Well-thought lighting makes the best of your home and garden’s architectural features, plants and trees. There are endless moods you can achieve, but lighting is above all a work of personalized artistry!
There’s more to follow, stay tuned!
I’ll feature in the time to come some more blog posts on selecting and applying the different lighting types as listed above. I’ve tried to rework any of them in my actual garden light scheme .
Thanks anyway for reading this contribution, I hope this theme has caught your interest. Looking forward to welcome you back again!