Reflectance is the measurement of the amount of light reflected by a surface. While the concept sounds very technical, knowing how the light will behave around the materials in your garden can help you create a better landscaping project.
Although most garden surfaces are dark and do not reflect light well, your eyes need less light outdoors than they do indoors to see forms, shadows and patterns. To choose the right lighting intensity for each area of your garden, remember to also consider the materials around the fixtures.
Below are some ideas of landscape lighting that take advantage of materials and their reflectance. The more reflective a surface is, the less light you will need to achieve the desired brightness around it.
Here the design makes use of the highly reflective white walls to brighten up the whole area.
Light stones reflect around 50% of the light, making it possible to create a well lit entryway with soft low voltage lights.
Concrete reflects about 40% of the light and the rough texture creates a sharper outline of the lighting spots.
Red bricks reflect about one third of the light shed on them and they provide a warmer, cozier look to the garden.
Placing lighting fixtures closer to vegetation can be a good way give the garden a more discrete lighting. Plants have around 25% of reflectance.
Soil and dark stones reflect about 15% of the light and it is possible to create an interesting design by featuring different shapes and textures.
Grass is one of the lowest reflecting surfaces, only 6%. In this example the lawn creates a great separation around the house.