Ask an expert: Your guide to outdoor lighting
Outdoor lighting can not only affect how your garden looks and functions, but also the value of your property. As we discovered, getting the lighting right comes down to planning and quality fittings.
31 August, 2017
We chatted to David Spark of Light on Landscape, outdoor lighting specialists who design, install and maintain fittings in outdoor spaces Australia wide. David shared with us the importance of outdoor lighting and the key considerations when it comes to lighting up outdoor spaces.
Outdoor lighting not only enhances property value, but also lifestyle
Outdoor lighting can be extremely beneficial when it comes to selling a property, but it’s not just the property value that’s enhanced.
“Outdoor lighting allows you to enjoy what you’ve created outdoors, especially when you have an established garden,” says David. “Lighting your garden allows you to enjoy your outdoor space at any time of the day.”
When you’ve invested so much time and money into creating the ideal garden, why not light it up correctly and make the most of it.
Lighting key areas depends on space and style
The key areas you should consider lighting in the garden depends on the design, according David. “You can make a single focal point, pick up the boundaries or focus on the entertaining areas.”
In smaller courtyards, you can utilise some of the light coming from the house, reducing your need for garden lights. A larger, more formal outdoor space on the other hand, may benefit from a well-curated lighting plan with multiple switching options, suggests David.
The style and aesthetics of your garden also dictate the extent of your outdoor lighting. David notes, lighting up a focal tree, for example, may be more effective than lighting up the entire outdoor space.
Some light fittings should be visible over others
Most often your fixtures will be seen, especially path lighting and focal areas, said David. He finds copper, bronze or matt-black fittings within the garden blend in best within the landscape.
In most instances, if the plants are the dominant feature of the garden, you want to avoid seeing the fittings. So, best choose a fixture that can hide within the foliage, yet still be effective. This is especially important in clipped formal gardens.
When it comes to outdoor lighting, planning is essential
Leaving the lighting to the last minute doesn’t come without its ramifications. “Infrastructure is one of the most crucial considerations,” explains David. In an ideal world, David suggested getting your lighting specialist involved as early as possible.
“We’d like to talk about switching and product choice with the electricians or builders at the planning stage. That way, we get to choose the correct light instead of trying to solve problems.”
It’s also important to factor in the lead time of the fittings. While Light on Landscape hold stock of everything required for infrastructure, due to the extensive range, fittings may need to be ordered in advance. This can come with leads times from four days to four weeks depending on the product required. Today, LED manufacturers make to order as beam angles and finishes can no longer be re-emitted. “Plan ahead to avoid delays,” David says.
Regular maintenance will reduce headaches later down the track
Maintenance is extremely important for the longevity of the outdoor lighting. David says: “We advise a yearly service, especially with any in ground fittings.
“If installed correctly, we’re able to do a thorough service which should tie you over for a few years.”
Carefully consider the quality and potential issues
The range of lighting products on the market is extensive. David suggested some key points to ask when choosing outdoor light fittings. Can the product be fixed? Are parts available? How long is the warranty?
“Think long term with every purchase,” David says.
“It’s vital you make sure any fitting you purchase can be serviced and fixed in the future,” explains David. “The last thing you want is to spend a considerable amount on fittings only to find out in three years, your warranty is void or the product has been discontinued. After sales service is so important.”
Not only will you be saving money in the long run, you’ll be making an effort to reduce the amount of waste that’s associated with disposable consumerism; something David is rather passionate about.
Key points to avoid with outdoor lighting
- Assuming LEDs last forever;
- Not considering drainage and access when installing ground lights;
- An overuse of strip lighting;
- Using the same lighting effect throughout the garden.
Key points to consider
- Consider the infrastructure and access for future maintenance;
- Purchase quality fittings that can be serviced, where possible;
- Use different lighting effects to create depth and interest in the garden;
- Utilise house lights then extend into the garden.