“It’s not the type of fixture you use that is the most important in landscaping lighting,” says Mark Mosello, founder and lead designer of Design Lighting By Marks. “It’s the placement—the sense of aesthetics, one’s years of experience and understanding of how to do lighting artistically and not just electrically.” With more than 46 years in the industry, Mosello brings that sense of artistry to each project his firm takes on, regardless of size or complexity.
According to Mosello, effective outdoor lighting serves three primary purposes. “Of course, it’s nice to have a warm, welcoming effect when someone comes to your home at night,” he says. Enhancing your property’s visual appeal and extending the beauty of nature into the nighttime might include illuminating gardens, trees, shrubbery, ground cover, walkways, and outdoor statuary. And what ruins any visual appeal—and should be avoided at all costs, cautions Mosello—is glare. But, in addition to making your property look good at night, effective outdoor lighting can also provide security, with well-lit grounds offering safe passage for your family and visitors. Contrary to popular misconceptions, lighting doesn’t have to be glary and bright to be effective, says Mosello. Carefully placed, warm lighting can create the illusion that someone is at home and deter intruders. And finally, effective landscape lighting can increase the functionality of your property, with properly lit areas offering new ways to enjoy its various features after dark. “We will often get a call because a homeowner has spent all this money on a swimming pool or patio and then finds that they can’t see it to use or entertain out there at night,” says Mosello.
Whatever its purpose, the key to appealing and effective landscape lighting is “not the selection of specific fixtures, but rather their placement. You want them to blend into the surroundings and not to call attention to themselves,” Mosello says. “You want to make things look attractive and to be able to see the beautiful landscaping, not the light source.” In some cases, the company has not been able to find the fixtures that meet its needs, so it has started to manufacture some of its own.
In keeping with his commitment to promoting energy efficiency, all the fixtures Mosello’s company uses are LED-compatible. “Not only do LEDs use very little electricity, you can put 50 lights on one circuit instead of 10,” says Mosello, “and because they last so much longer, they don’t have to be changed as frequently. Plus, LED prices have been coming down.” Other energy-conscious options on the market include low-voltage halogen fixtures, compact bulbs, and eco-friendly fluorescent lights that use less mercury, plus lighting-control products such as dimmer switches, photocells, timers, and motion sensors that give the homeowner more control over his or her energy usage.
Bright Idea: Security lighting, like a really bright floodlight over a garage, doesn’t have to look ugly. Use the same wattage but shield it so you don’t see the glare, says Mosello, and the lighting source is equally effective in illuminating the area but looks much more attractive.