Landscape Lighting: Light Up the Night

A home landscape that looks great during the day disappears at night. But the right lights, placed in the right places, can transform the surrounding lawn and gardens as the sun goes down, and provide an extra level of safety for homeowners and visitors navigating the landscape after dark. Tim Nebel, Gardens of Babylon’s operations manager for irrigation, lighting and audio, explains how outdoor lights extend your enjoyment of the landscape.


Landscape Lighting: The Benefits

“Using path lights and down lights is a simple and elegant way to ensure you and your guests never miss a step leading to your front door, or are able to recognize the pathway through a garden or walkway at night,” Nebel says.

And while safety can be a top priority, lights placed strategically throughout the landscape can artfully illuminate your home. And that, Nebel says, is where the fun comes in.

“Particularly this time of year, as the days grow shorter, after dark might be one of your few opportunities to relax at home, look out over the landscape, and spend time outside.” With lights, the view from your deck or patio can be more than just a dark void. Lights can provide a wash of illumination to an area, highlight specific details, cast dramatic shadows and extend your view of the landscape at night.


Lighting Facts & Fixtures

The most common fixtures are path lights and up lights, Nebel says. “Path lights come in a variety of styles, and typically have a dome-shaped cap which diffuses the light towards the walking path below.”

To enhance landscape features, a designer often relies on up lights. “Up lights can add dramatic accents and depth to your home and yard. These fixtures are most commonly used to illuminate the front facade of your home and trees throughout your yard,” Nebel says. “Uplighting a specimen tree, or the facade of your home, can change the entire look of your property to those who are passing by or pulling into the driveway.”

In addition to path lights and up lights, there is a range of additional fixtures intended for various effects. Nebel describes the options:

  • In-grade lights: set into driveways, pools, or retaining walls.
  • Post/deck lights: set into fences, posts, or decking steps.
  • Down lights: mounted in trees or on houses to create a “moonlit” effect, quite different than the dramatic effect of uplighting.
  • Wall wash lights: similar to an up light, but less harsh and with a wider spread. Great for lighting walls, boulders, or shrubs.
  • Flood lights: positioned in areas for maximum security.

“Your lighting design can range from subtle and soft to dramatic and brilliant, depending on your taste and what you’re hoping to achieve,” Nebel says.

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Planning for Lighting

When you begin to think about lighting your landscape, the important things to consider are where you spend your time outdoors in the evening and what you’d like to see when you gaze out into the night, or when you pull into your driveway after dark. Also consider any areas that could be made safer by lighting them at night, Nebel suggests.

“I would recommend browsing an internet search of ‘landscape lighting images’ or — better yet — taking a nighttime drive around Nashville neighborhoods to get an idea of what you might like to try with lighting at home,” he advises.

If you are starting with a new landscape plan and call on the services of a designer, it’s easy to add lighting to your list of must-have features. If you’re incorporating lights into an existing plan, a landscape designer will be able to assess the needs and suggest the types and placement of fixtures and components.

Landscape designers at Gardens of Babylon use two preferred brands of lighting fixtures: Sollos, a company based in Atlanta, and San Marcos, CA-based company FX Luminaire. 

Both offer a variety of fixtures, and both brands receive the same wattage lamps, so the lighting effect is similar for their standard lights,” Nebel says. “Sollos fixtures look a bit more traditional, while the metallic finish on FX Luminaire fixtures has a modern appeal.” The FX Luminaire lights provide a heavier, sturdier fixture, as well as options to sync your lights with a phone app, or change colors and add dimming. “If you find another brand that you prefer, or that you need to match, chances are we can find it for you.” 

Lighting your landscape adds another dimension to the comfort and enjoyment of your home, Nebel believes. 

“We invest a lot in our homes and our outdoor spaces, and the aesthetics of these spaces all-but disappear when the sun goes down,” Nebel says. “Landscape lighting is the perfect way to extend the time you’re able to enjoy your outdoor space, and to augment the beauty of your home in the evening.”

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