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Get the green light on landscape lighting

January 10, 2022 -  By
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opt for products with long-term warranties to ensure products last. (Photo: Landscape Illumination)

Many lighting pros opt for products with long-term warranties to ensure products last. (Photo: Landscape Illumination)

Industry trade shows, publications, conventions and manufacturers are some of the top sources professionals use to stay up to date on the latest landscape lighting product rollouts. But before you incorporate new products into your lineups and designs, four landscape contractors share the steps they take to ensure new products are up to their standards.

Lighting pros caution against going with trends without testing the products first. (Photo: Lampscape Designs)

Lighting pros caution against going with trends without testing the products first. (Photo: Lampscape Designs)

New but tested

Remaining cutting edge is a priority for Jerry McKay, owner of McKay Landscape Lighting in Omaha, Neb. — but not at the expense of the quality of his company’s work. He’s cautious about expanding offerings, typically adding a few new lighting products to his firm’s lineup each year.

His company provides landscape lighting design, installation and maintenance for an 80 percent residential and 20 percent commercial clientele. McKay Landscape Lighting tests all of the products first and works with a few manufacturers it has built longstanding relationships with. One of those is Auroralight.

“We aren’t going to buy something off of the Internet and try it out,” McKay says. “Our reputation is too important.”

McKay also considers how effective new products are in terms of lighting trends, including the recent popularity of color-changing lights. McKay’s team tried these lights in a few places, but the results weren’t up to its standard. So, McKay stopped using them.

“Sometimes it’s OK not to go with the newest, greatest thing until it’s proven,” McKay says.

Weather the elements

The first thing Adrian Palacios, owner of Lampscape Designs in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., considers when it comes to new lighting products is reliability and durability in harsh environments.

“Landscape lighting gets the most abuse out of any lighting, whether that’s (abuse) from landscapers, lawn care companies, kids playing in the yard, public traffic or the high salt levels like we have here in South Florida,” Palacios says.

His company uses Kichler Lighting products and provides lighting services for landscapes, water features, docks and holidays. Lampscape’s customers are 70 percent residential and 30 percent commercial, and the company has an annual revenue of $1.8 million. With the electronic components that go into LED systems, Palacios says he’s careful to test new products to check the performance level.

Keep it simple: Add new lighting products bit by bit, based on what clients say they want. (Photo: California Pools and Landscape)

Keep it simple: Add new lighting products bit by bit, based on what clients say they want. (Photo: California Pools and Landscape)

“I see contractors who install a product but never see the end result, so they don’t know how good it is,” Palacios says. “If they install lighting up a 40-foot tree, they don’t know if it lights up at the top, if the beam span needs to be tightened or if there’s a lot of glare coming out of a fixture.”

Consider demand

Matt Murman, CAD department manager at California Pools and Landscape in Chandler, Ariz., encourages contractors not to add the whole catalog when expanding their lineup. A simple approach has worked for his company.

“Keep your offerings limited to what your clients are looking for with a few different design options for each light type,” Murman says.

The company has four locations and provides outdoor living services including landscaping, design/build, pools and landscape lighting. Its customers are about 90 percent residential and 10 percent commercial. California Pools and Landscape adds new, tested lighting products once or twice a year, depending on when its customers’ needs arise.

“We look to see if the product satisfies a need first. Secondarily, we consider if it’s necessary to offer the product,” says Murman, who uses Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting. “Honestly, we attempt to keep our lighting offerings to a manageable portfolio both for internal management and for sourcing reasons.”

Make it last: Choosing lighting products that can withstand the elements is a must. (Photo: McKay Landscape Lighting)

Make it last: Choosing lighting products that can withstand the elements is a must. (Photo: McKay Landscape Lighting)

Long-term warranty

Not only does Darrin Selking, president of Landscape Illumination in Valparaiso, Ind., test all products before putting them in a customer’s design, he also ensures the products will last for years to come.

“We try to install products that have at least a 10- to 15-year manufacturer warranty or longer because we don’t want our clients to have to call us for service,” says Selking, who uses Kichler Lighting. “They should only have to call us if they want to add more stuff.”

Landscape Illumination offers landscape and seasonal lighting services to about 80 percent residential and 20 percent commercial clients. The company’s annual revenue is around $3 million. When considering a new product, Selking talks with other contractors who use the one he’s considering to get their feedback.

“Once I find a good product that works and is reliable, I’m going to stick with it,” Selking says. “Everything I put out there, I know it’s reliable.”

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