Photo by Paolo Luciano, Courtesy of National Lawn Sprinklers & Outdoor Living
Attilio Petroni, landscape lighting expert, shares his tips for illuminating your yard and why it’s so important.
As homeowners, we all want beautiful curb appeal and often think about landscaping to achieve this; however, one thing that can further enhance your landscaping is lighting. “Many clients have a limited understanding of the design process involved in lighting or what can be done with light to create an atmosphere,” says Attilio Petroni of National Lawn Sprinklers & Outdoor Living. “They might have preferences about atmosphere but have no idea how to achieve it.”
Petroni and his team start by getting to know the client, how they will use the space at night, feelings about lighting, their budget, and the timeline.
“What is important in landscape lighting for the customer is always the end result of what a specimen tree or plant looks like in the evening,” says Petroni. “What I show the customer is a daytime picture of the lighting then the evening picture so they can see exactly what their outdoor living space can look like.”
Lighting your landscaping can be done for a variety of reasons and the client should consider what their priorities are before starting. Viewing out from inside a room, use of space for one or more activities, identification of the property, and safety and security are the reasons Petroni notes.
Safety – lighting can be added to avoid injury. “Landscape lighting should provide a clear view of any potential obstacles in the environment such as steps, intersections of land and water, and furniture,” says Petroni.
Security – avoiding intrusion by trespassers. “Light can be a deterrent to an intruder and adds psychologically to an inhabitant’s feeling of protection,” adds Petroni. He says that security lighting can be a separate system or an integral part of the overall lighting system.
Aesthetics – enjoyment of the property. “Lighting the exterior can provide a view from the interior out into the landscape, enlarge the interior space by visually fusing it with the exterior landscape, and provide for activities such as entertainment and sports,” says Petroni.
The Key Spots for Lighting:
- Pool perimeter landscape lighting
- Fire pit and surrounding landscape
- Pergola being highlighted with surounding plants
- A Jacuzzi that is not attached to the pool, but is located on the property adjacent to landscaping to make it a calming experience
“These are all different lighting scenes that the client experiences in various locations of their living space,” says Petroni. “Not only is it important to highlight these areas separately, but the art is having the outdoor lighting all come together by transitioning each lighting scene to the next without creating any dark areas as they move throughout their property.”
Petroni adds that the homeowner needs to determine what type of atmosphere they want to create. “Words like ‘dramatic’ and ‘theatrical’ present a different image than ‘simple’ and ‘subtle,’’ says Petroni.
Next up is determining the budget. If the budget is limited, the project can be done in phases and should be discussed with the designer. You will then have a landscape lighting design plan in place and can start work on the contract documents that include specifications such as dimensions, locations, materials, quality, and installation standards, and who is responsible for what.
Other professionals who may be involved in the landscape lighting process are architects, builders, landscapers, and electricians. “Sometimes architects are involved in the design and product specification process,” says Petroni. Coordination meetings often happen during jobs including the architect, lighting designers and installers, landscapers, builders, and electricians to discuss the plan. Petroni adds that depending on the town or city where the home is located, licensing requirements will be different. “The lighting contractor will be able to inform the owner what the regulations are in their town,” says Petroni.
Whatever your reason for wanting to light your landscape it certainly adds ambience to your exterior. Just make sure to hire a pro and have a plan in place before getting started.