Without a plan, landscape lighting designers are dead in the water. Even skilled landscapers understand the value of a detailed, well-thought-out blueprint. Without a plan, mistakes are nearly guaranteed, and whenever time and money is wasted, another set of problems surface.
If you just moved in or you are getting ready to tackle your lighting project, you will be anxious and excited to install those lights and get your yard one step closer to your vision.
Unfortunately, haste results in failure and it is not uncommon for homeowners to rush the process because they are too excited to wait and plan it out properly. Just remember that your excitement will turn to dread when a failure to plan turns into an emotional headache.
The purpose of a plan is to avoid future mistakes. When you start the process, you will notice how everything fits and any potential inconsistencies will surface during this phase.
For example, your vision may include a particular fixture next to a tree, but when you plot the dimensions on paper, you realize they are too close and do not blend well as it relates to the overall yard.
Draw your plan to scale with 1/8”=1” being appropriate for most properties. Use graph paper and add every feature of your yard with tracing paper. If you are technical, try one of the many computer software programs available. The programs make it easier to envision how changes would look in real-time. Make sure to include every surface and feature such as walkways, driveways, porches and patios, borders, and all gardens.
Start by measuring your property line and recording the data into your program or on paper. To make the process easier, measure the distance from your property line to one corner of the house and use this as a reference to measure the remaining sides of the house.
Will you entertain in your yard? Live outdoors a lot? Think about how you will use your outdoor space. Contemplate the idea of terraces and patios, their location, and their proximity to the sun.
Also, consider the areas that will need more light at night for safety and entertaining purposes. Some areas will need basic functional lighting to provide illumination for guests and deter thieves from entering your property. Additional light will serve an aesthetic purpose and should be placed where you want the most emphasis.
Decide which lights you will use for your design. There are many from which to choose including energy-efficient options as well. Pay attention to the installation of each type and choose based on your willingness and expertise. Think about maintenance and overall costs to run the lights on an ongoing basis. And remember—when designing lighting, less is more. Be aware of the natural tendency to go overboard.
If you stick with a plan, you will avoid most mistakes. A little time before the process will save you months of heartache and regret, and give you the exact design you envision for your landscape.