This DIY guide to adding outdoor lighting to your landscaping projects will have you inspired and finding great ideas to enhance your outdoor spaces.
With all of the effort that goes into landscaping your property there is a very easy way to extend your enjoyment of it. Lingering in your homes outdoor spaces during the daylight hours is often limited to the weekends and a great way to extend your outdoor time is by adding lighting. After a hard day’s work you can enjoy your weekday evenings in your outdoor spaces and garden by adding a little light.
Outdoor Lighting to enhance your garden
A very simple thing to do is hang up a set of white string lights in the trees in your back yard. This can provide ambient lighting while you are in the garden as well as provide visual interest from your home looking out into the yard.
A similar treatment is to put spot lights at the base of tress pointing up the trunk into the tress canopy. Either way, this features the trees visual interest at night and provides light while you enjoy the outdoor spaces in the evening. These treatments can also look very appealing in the winter as the yard tends to look barren during these months a bit of accent lighting in the evening can provide a completely new level of enjoyment of your hard work and efforts in the garden and patio areas of your home by providing a view from your home to the featured element.
Of course one of the issues most home owners will raise is the fact that you need to get power to these lights. This usually requires running extension cords from the home or garden shed to the area you need power. Many people will find ways to hide these cords along fences and other hardscape elements. Of course a more permanent solution is to add underground wiring to provide power where you need it. This is easily done during the construction phase of you backyard oasis and is a very easily planned for at this point. But what if you have already completed this and perhaps your backyard and garden spaces are complete and more mature. Don’t worry there are lots of exciting new options available at very reasonable costs.
The first option we will examine is low voltage garden lighting options...
Low Voltage Lighting
Installing low-voltage outdoor lighting is a big impact DIY project. Since its low voltage it’s safe to use and install even for beginners. Today there are a great many options in exterior lighting styles and these can all be used to illuminate paths, steps and dark zones plus add dramatic interest to your garden and patio features.
At this time of year you can find many options of DIY kits at your local hardware store of home improvement outlet. They can range in price from as low as $59.00 and up. I would caution you though to spend some time examining the various qualities of the various offerings. There are inexpensive plastic versions to the cast aluminum and steel, some come with the basics and you will need to buy additional materials to complete your installation. Just remember that you will be installing this and you will want something that will last and improve the overall look and value of your property as well as improve you enjoyment of your outdoor space.
Create a plan
A great outdoor lighting project like all successfully executed projects requires a plan. This plan starts with deciding what you want to feature in your yard or garden. Consider things like pathways, do you want the path flooded with light or would you prefer pathway lights that are place occasionally along the sides to guide you through or to your patio areas. Do you want to light a feature like a pond or as we discussed earlier a tree, bush or other garden features.
The power behind every low-voltage system is the transformer. It plugs into a GFCI-protected outdoor electrical outlet and steps down the house current from 120 volts to 12 volts. Most transformers are equipped with a 24-hour timer that allows users to decide when the lights go on and off automatically. From the transformer 10 gauge wire is run on the main lines and then a 12 gauge to off shoots. All of the instructions for the particular model you choose should be included in the kit you purchase.
As with all your DIY projects we recommend a little planning ahead of time to insure your project goes smoothly and you are happy with the results. So start by gathering the right tools and materials for your project and then download our guide to low voltage lighting installations here.
A second option for outdoor light that has become very popular in recent years is Solar Lighting. This type of outdoor lighting solution has grown in popularity and practicality. The earlier versions of these products were unreliable and basically disposable. With the improvements in solar panel and battery technologies along with low voltage LED lighting this category of products has grown exponentially.
It’s easy to see why solar garden lighting is so popular and practical. You don’t have to pay for electricity, and you don’t need to install any wiring in most cases. Simply take the light out of the box, and put it beside your walkway, in your garden, or any desired location on your property, and you are done. Solar garden lights come in many different styles. The commonality between them is that they all get their energy from the sun during the day and come on automatically at night. Solar lights will turn your backyard area into an oasis, and will expand your outdoor living environment.
There are many different ways that outdoor solar lights can be used. They can illuminate your garden, brighten your driveway, walkways and steps, or set a relaxing mood on your porches and decks. Solar lights can also provide security and peace of mind for you by brightening areas of your home with motion sensor security lighting.
Solar lighting is also a great way to add light in your backyard utility shed. This type of light has a solar panel that can be mounted on the roof or eve of the shed in a position to get the most sunlight. You then simply run a wire from the panel to the low voltage light fixture mounted in the building.
A similar type of set up will allow you to add a LED light chandelier to your pergola or gazebo, no wires, no fuss, no hassles, just a very easy DIY afternoon project.
Using outdoor solar lighting is a great way you can begin to save energy around your home. These freestanding lights require no wiring and work purely off of the suns stored energy. During the day your solar panel will convert the sun’s light and/or UV rays into electrical power that will charge the rechargeable battery. When it becomes dark, the solar light will turn on using the power stored on the rechargeable battery as it will detect no day light. The units light output strength and time depends on how many hours and how much sunlight and/or UV rays your panel absorbs throughout the day.
For maximum output place the solar panel in an area where there is direct sunlight for at least 8 hours in a given day. Do not install your solar light in a shaded area. The selected location should not be near night time light sources such as; porch lights, street lights or pool lights as these may cause the solar light to turn off prematurely. Most importantly, choose good quality products that carry a warranty, there lots of options in solar products today and they vary in quality and durability.
So whatever choice you make in your selection of outdoor lighting products, hardwired, low voltage or solar, your time and effort to improve your outdoor spaces is certainly worth it. You will extend your enjoyment of the outdoor spaces around your home at the same time improve the look and value of your home.
In this project as in many others there are key pieces you want to make sure are well documented and ready for you in case it is required. Using quinju.com free home improvement project software allows you to safely collect, organize and archive everything and anything about your projects. Think of it as your electronic home renovation binder available whenever and wherever you need!