Randall was kind enough to share his tips for me to post for you all! Enjoy!....
TIPS ON INSTALLING & MAINTAINING LANDSCAPE LIGHTING
There are many techniques for landscape lighting from which you can choose.Understanding the terminologies will help you communicate with the rest of the design team.
Planning ahead for switching and transformer locations will save money when the landscaping is started. Save time and money by having power lines or conduit installed under the driveway or patio before paving or bricking. When working with new construction it is important to specify a number of outside duplex GFI receptacles (outlets rated for exterior use) for future landscaping or portable luminaires for parties.
Small plants and trees grow, some slowly and some rapidly. Plan for maximum growth and install smaller wattage lamps that can be replaced with higher wattages as the foliage matures.
Mix it Up
Using a variety of lighting techniques will keep the design interesting. Using only one lighting method may create a too commercial-looking design. Here are some options for you to consider:
This can be a very dramatic way of lighting trees that have a sculptural quality to them. The luminaires can be ground-mounted or actually installed below-grade. These buried luminaires are known as well lights. Well lights have little or no adjustability, so they work best for mature trees.
Above-ground directional luminaires have a much greater flexibility and therefore do a better job for younger trees as they mature. Use shrubbery to conceal the light source from view. A below-grade junction box will allow the luminaires to be closer to ground level.
Silhouetting or Backlighting
There are now fluorescent luminaires that do a good job of wall washing, consuming a small amount of power with a long lamp life. Remember to specify a ballast that is designed for low temperatures if your project is located in a cold part of the country.
This type of lighting is to be used for outdoor activity areas. It’s best to overlap the spreads of illumination to help reduce shadowing. The luminaires can be mounted on trellises, eaves, gazebos and mature trees.
Use this technique minimally. Statues, sculpture or specimen plants deserve to be highlighted. They will tend to dominate the view as people look outside. Spotlights should be shielded to avoid glare if they are in direct view.
This is one lighting technique that needs to be done judiciously. Too often we see walkways or driveways flanked with rows of pagoda lights as the only source of exterior illumination. This tends to look like an airport runway.
When a pathway light is needed, consider using an opaque mushroom-type luminaire that projects light down without drawing attention to itself. The luminaires should not exceed two feet in height. This, in combination with additional lighting sources will help create a comfortable exterior environment
Spacing of path lights will depend on the style of the luminaire and lamp options. Many lighting showrooms now have landscape displays to help you make an informed choice.
Step or Stair Lighting
Fixtures can be recessed in the side walls or the steps themselves to illuminate the risers. This will provide safety as well as background fill illumination for the landscape design.
This is the most naturalistic way of lighting an exterior space. The effect is as if the area were being illuminated by a full moon. A dappled pattern of light and shadow is created along pathways and over low-level plantings. This is accomplished by mounting luminaires in mature trees, some pointed down to create the patterned effect and some pointed up to highlight the foliage canopy.
It’s best not to dim exterior lighting. Many outdoor luminaires use incandescent sources. When incandescent lamps are dimmed, the light becomes more amber. The yellow cast makes the plantings look sickly. The whiter the light, the more healthy the plants look.
Randall Whitehead’s Top Ten Lighting Tips
On Outdoor Lighting for Homeowners
1. There is no single exterior light fixture that can perform all lighting needs in the garden. The moonlighting effect is a design method in which a number of light sources are blended together to create a natural looking design.
2. Put together a planting plan, outdoor furniture layout, kitchen design, and sculpture or water feature locations before attempting to create a lighting design. The lighting should relate to the way the outdoor spaces are going to be used.
3. Try to get all the players (homeowners, outdoor kitchen designer, lighting designer, landscape designer and contractor) together. This is called team approach to design. The result is a cohesive design where all the elements work with each other.
4. Create two levels of light. One for when you are inside looking out and one for when you are actually in the garden. Most of the time we look out into our gardens because it is just too cold much of the year to be out there.
5. Choose one style adjustable shielded exterior fixture that can serve as a downlight, accent light or wall wash. Don’t mix fixture types. It draws too much attention to the fixtures themselves. Only the decorative fixtures, such as the lanterns flanking the doors or hanging over the outdoor eating area should be seen.
6. Always try to include some exterior lighting in the over all design even if you are working on the lighting inside of your house first. It not only keeps windows from becoming black mirrors at night, but it also visually expands the interior spaces.
7. Do not put exterior lights on dimmers. Standard incandescent light, when dimmed, becomes even more amber in color. Green plants look sickly under yellow light.
8. Locate a panic switch for security lights in the master bedroom. It’s no fun running to the front door in the middle of the night to turn on the outside lights.
9. Don’t just locate light switches for the main rooms and landscaping at the
front door. Most people enter their homes from the garage. This is
where a second set of switches should be installed, as well as from the doors leading out into the garden .
10. Use a daylight blue, color correcting filter on the out door lights if they are incandescent or cooler colored fluorescent and LED sources, which will eliminate the amber quality of incandescent light. This will keep the plants looking healthy.
(This information provided by Randall Whitehead Lighting, Inc.
1246 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 415-626-1277 For more tips on lighting go to www.randallwhitehad.com)