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Pros share the ins and outs of landscape lighting

August 15, 2022 -  By
Landscape lighting installation styles vary widely across different U.S. regions, such as more modern looks across the Northeast and West Coast, industry experts say. (Photo: FX Luminaire)

Landscape lighting installation styles vary widely across different U.S. regions, such as more modern looks across the Northeast and West Coast, industry experts say. (Photo: FX Luminaire)

Whether it’s a preference for more color variance in mountain states or brighter light in the Southeast, industry norms in landscape lighting installations tend to be regional.

Sarah Auyeung, product manager for lighting fixtures with FX Luminaire, says clients have needs just as specific as their locations.

“The Northeast and West Coast tend to like more modern looks,” she says. “There’s design style and color temperatures that are different. I’ve noticed Florida tends to light things really bright with high contrast. They also have more dense plant material down there.”

Clients in mountainous areas like Colorado and Utah tend to prefer more variance in color temperature. That also goes for Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, according to Auyeung.

“(Designers) play around a little more with color temperature because of the plant material,” she says. “You have more blue spruces and evergreens where the more bluish light is just beautiful, maybe a cool white around 4,000 Kelvin.

“In the areas with the beautiful lime greens and Japanese maples, you can apply a 4,000 Kelvin color temperature on a blue spruce right next to a 3,000 Kelvin warm light on a deciduous tree.”

Once the designer and client decide on a proper color temperature, installers must take the increased complexity of in-grade lighting into account.

“Uplights and path lights are easier (to install), but they tend to have limited design elements,” Auyeung says. “There’s a ton of different beam spreads, color temperatures and light distribution intention. When you get to walls, ledge lights and in-grades, it creates a whole different realm of directing the light.”

Kurt Keiser of Premier Outdoor Lighting Co., in Highlands Ranch, Colo., a Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting client, says he prefers uplighting due to its ability to highlight clients’ homes and landscaping.

Uplighting installed for large-scale residential projects accentuates a home’s architecture and surrounding plant life. (Photo: Premier Outdoor Lighting Co)

Uplighting installed for large-scale residential projects accentuates a home’s architecture and surrounding plant life. (Photo: Premier Outdoor Lighting Co)

“Uplighting the architecture of the house really brings out the color, texture and dimension of the structure,” he says. “Colors and textures not seen in the daylight become eye catching. Uplighting into trees highlights the branch pattern, trunk formation and the soft or coarse texture of the leaves. Each variety of tree shows its own personality, from the ground all the way up to the tip of the tree.”

Why choose just one lighting type?

Mark Angersola, advanced product solutions and layouts team lead for Kichler Lighting, recommends clients use a mix of lighting techniques, including uplighting, downlighting, path lighting, shadowing, wall washing, silhouette lighting (backlighting) and moonlighting.

“To create a more interesting design, try to really figure out which areas benefit from backlighting, not just uplighting,” he says. “Would it create an interesting shadow effect to move a fixture closer to a wall to bring out the texture in stonework or stucco?”
Kichler Lighting client Tim Salopek, owner and founder of Illumination FL, says drilling and electrical logistics become much more important when tackling larger jobs with multiple lighting types.

“It’s important to have an experienced person or crew doing those types of installs. When you’re installing down lights up on trees, you have to exercise caution,” he says. “If you’re doing a job where you have in-ground fixtures and need to drill into pavers, or concrete or whatever, then you have to be prepared and have the right tools and skill sets on site.”

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