It still amazes me that outdoor lighting is generally the last thing that anyone thinks about when purchasing or building a home. That is probably the worst thing about being a lighting designer. We always seem to get called way after everything else is completed which makes the installation so much more difficult and expensive. Aside from that, it can also compromise the lighting design because so much is unaccounted for when designing the home. There are many benefits to planning for (at best) or adding landscape lighting to your home and I hope to highlight a few of them here.
Beauty. Let’s face it: you want your home to look terrific. Complimenting someone’s home is almost as flattering as complimenting their kids. When you add outdoor lighting, features like stone walls and interesting architecture stand out more because of the contrast against the darkness. During the day these features are easily taken for granted but when they are properly lit they can really pop. Most of our lighting throughout the day comes from overhead. So, when something is lit from below, like ornamental trees and shrubs, it takes on a very different mood. Shadows and silhouettes can also add to the ambiance and you are really able to use the architecture of the house as a canvas to create interesting patterns and scenes.
Safety. Obviously our surroundings are harder to navigate when it’s dark. Everyday tasks like bringing in the groceries or taking out the garbage can become, if not dangerous, at least more difficult than they need to be. Landscape lighting can highlight uneven surfaces or steps or guide people around low hanging tree branches, thorny plants or other outdoor hazards. Dark areas of the yard can be highlighted for safe passage and make your outdoor areas much more friendly to guests and residents.
Security. It’s been pretty well documented that a well-lit house is less likely to be a target for burglary. Just run a quick Google search on “how much safer is a well-lit home?” and thousands of articles come up. Potential intruders are more comfortable breaking into houses that are dark because they can use the shadows and dark spots to hide in. Using outdoor lighting helps to eliminate those areas and makes your home a less ideal target.
Functionality. In Texas we have pretty good weather for most of the year so we spend a lot of time outdoors. Landscape lighting can really extend your living space. Outdoor lighting increases the functionality of your outdoor environment so that you can use your entire property to relax and entertain in. A good lighting design creates different spaces to utilize. The lighting should help one area flow into the next but also create enough separation that they feel like different zones. This way your backyard almost feels like a second home.
Value. Adding landscape lighting to your home can really add curb appeal with pretty minimal investment. It is one of the least expensive home improvement projects that you can undertake. If you are planning on selling your home in the future it is an inexpensive addition that can give you quite a great return on the investment. And if you are planning on staying in your home forever you get the peace of mind knowing that your home is safer.
With all the benefits of outdoor lighting and the relatively inexpensive investment it is always hard for me to imagine why it’s not a more important part of purchasing or building a home. It is always less expensive to do it at the beginning stages of planning and developing your architectural drawings but even if your home is already built and all your landscaping is already put in, outdoor lighting is in my opinion the single-best improvement you can make for your home.