When I pull into my driveway in the evening, I’m greeted with a delightful show of light and shadow. I appreciate the same show while I’m enjoying dinner in my sunroom or washing dishes at the sink. Anytime I look outside I’m mesmerized by how night lighting reveals and enhances facets of my garden. My husband is a great fan of our lighting as well. Occasionally he leads me out into the evening garden to stroll hand in hand through the soft shadows. It’s always romantic.
I’ve always wanted to have night lighting in my garden. I even tried an inexpensive lighting package before I became a landscape designer. The effect was disastrous. Rather than seeing pools of light along a strolling path, I saw low orbs of light that caught my eyes but did not illuminate the path. I lived with them for a few months and then pulled them out and discarded them.
Years later, when I was finally able to add lighting to my present garden, I chose a licensed landscape contractor who had years of experience designing and installing night lighting. The contractor and I had slightly different ideas of how to light up my various garden rooms. I went for the minimalist look and he wanted to really showcase the entire garden. We compromised with 10 fixtures that gave a nice show, but left some areas dark. After living with the compromise for a few weeks my husband and I decided to expand the project to include the entire vision. The results were spectacular. We now have soft downcast lights on the porch and in my large arbor; bright up-lighting on my large trees, spotlights on my fountains and statues, and a warm glow on the paths and in the terraced beds that draws the eye gently from one feature to the next.
I’ve learned a lot from both my lighting victory and defeat. If you’re going to do something – do it right. Use good materials, a good design and have it installed by an experienced landscape contractor. Life is too short to invest time, money, and effort into a project, just to be disappointed. Do it right and make it sizzle.