On any property, landscape lights that are well placed in certain strategic areas at the front of the house, serve as a means of making your home safe and attractive to everyone.
First of all, you will need to decide which exterior features of your front yard space you want to illuminate with landscape lighting. Finding the right way to position your lights so that they illuminate exactly what you want them to after sunset is always a challenging task that may require the expert services of a professional landscaping company.
As a priority, your outdoor lighting must be focused on your safety and the safety of everyone living on the property, as well as your guests.
Thus, these lights should highlight or illuminate the most frequented places, i.e. the stairway, driveway, gates, and pathways at night. These lights should have a dual purpose, not only being a safety factor but also an interesting, fun addition to your home.
Depending on what effect you’d like to achieve and what exterior feature or place you’re planning to illuminate, there are different ways to position light fixtures in the yard.
I have compiled some useful and important tips to guide you through choosing the right position for your landscape lighting in order to illuminate the front of your house. So sit tight, get your popcorn and a glass of wine or water ready, as you’re about to learn the most strategic locations to position your exterior lights.
How Do You Layout Landscape Lighting In Front Of The House?
The truth is that everyone really wants their home to be safe and welcoming to their guests and neighbors. But chances are that you don’t want your front yard to be flooded with beams of light like a crime scene.
For decorative reasons, it pays off to install landscape lighting that will always attract the attention of your visitors to some strategic places around your property.
You need to consider which places or features you would like to highlight. Let’s take a look at the main ones:
Pathway lighting is essential to the safety of everyone coming to your home. Not only do they increase safety by making dark pathways brighter, which could lead to accidents, they are also an easy way to improve the curb appeal of your property.
When coming up with ideas for the most functional as well as attractive walkway lights, you need to keep in mind some useful tips:
• Define the edges: For added safety, it’s recommended to keep the distance between the fixture and one or both edges one foot apart.
• Fix the lights at the correct height: Walkway lights should be installed approximately 14 inches high to achieve a nice, warm glow.
• Don’t mind the price tag: You want your path lights to be high quality and serve you for a long time. Fixtures that have a sturdy construction, a glass lens, and a weather-resistant finish like powder-coated, are best to withstand harsh elements.
• Go for LED: The LED path lighting is gaining popularity. This is because LED bulbs burn cool, are long-lasting, and consume up to 75% less power.
Lighting the driveway is quite similar to lighting the path. It can also give homeowners peace of mind as they see better who’s entering their property.
That being said, you need to be careful about the number of lights you use, I’m sure you don’t want to light up your driveway to make it look like an airport runway! All you need is a few well-placed landscape lights to mark the path.
• Floodlights keep the driveway well-lit to help you and your visitors navigate the path. If your floodlights have the motion detection option, they are perfect for security purposes as well.
• Path lights can be also used to make it easier to navigate a driveway while highlighting it a with soft to moderately bright glow, depending on the bulbs selected. Path lighting should be installed in the ground, along both sides of the driveway.
• Downlights placed high in tree branches can bathe the driveway with a welcoming, natural-looking glow. Always place downlights higher and direct the source downwards to diffuse the light across the surface.
• Pillars or post lights at the end of a driveway can be used if you want to make make the entrance more dramatic and so that your house can be easy to find after dark.
For long driveways, try mixing light fixtures that include boundary markers, and downlights to illuminate large areas, especially if there are tight curves or other potential hazards.
Alternatively, if you have a driveway that is quite short, having outdoor lights attached to your house, for example on both sides of the garage doors, should work well.
It may sound easy but uplighting trees is a bit more tricky than you realize. The best way to uplight a tree in the front yard is to place the light away from the base of the tree and adjust it at a strategic angle and brightness level.
The way you uplight the tree plays a significant role in how the tree looks at night. It might take some trial and error to figure out but once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly straightforward.
So, when uplighting a tree, it’s important to:
• Place the lighting fixture on the ground at the base of the tree trunk and point it up towards the tree. The goal is to capture the branches, leaves, and flowers above.
• Ensure the fixture is hidden in the lawn and not clearly visible, and is just an accent for the tree. You don’t want to draw attention to the light instead of the tree.
• It’s also ideal that the type of light you select for this purpose has a soft and subtle glow that is natural and atmospheric. It shouldn’t be too bright as it will be really annoying.
• To create a dramatic effect, angle the fixture upwards to create a bright burst of light. This way you will illuminate the tree branches and not the lawn, which will add charm to the tree and the yard at the same time.
You also need to include illuminating of your fence in the landscape lighting plan. Highlighting the beauty of your fence through uplighting is one of the several options there are available.
Here are some things to keep in mind when illuminating a fence:
• Depending on the height of your fence, the most strategic place to mount the light is at the center of the garden wall or fence. This will permit the beam of light to cover both the upper and the lower parts of the fence.
• If you want to emphasize the beauty of your fence but keep the lighting subtle, go for the moonlighting technique. Place lights in a tree near the fence and train them down. The moonlighting effect will create a soft pool of glow and is great for gentle illumination of large areas of the fence.
• Landscaping at the base of the fence itself is a common technique used by homeowners. In this case, try the grazing method for lighting. Place uplights at the base of your plants near the fence in such a way that they are bright when lit up. The shadows of the plants are then displayed against the body of the fence, which creates texture on the flat surface of the fence. This technique is just perfect for privacy fencing.
Selecting the right light fixtures and lighting effects, then wiring and mounting the lights at the correct height and beam angle, is important for safety, cohesion, and attractive illumination.
• Path lighting is a common landscape lighting technique where lights are added alongside the steps rather than to the actual steps themselves.
Try alternating the placement of your path lights from one side of the step to the other. This way, you will illuminate the path evenly, make it look natural and aesthetically pleasing, and provide enough brightness to prevent accidents. Spacing the fixtures further apart can create a distinct pool of light so your eyes will naturally move through the space.
• Downlighting and moonlighting are other great methods to light stairways or steps, providing soft, natural lighting. Light fixtures should be placed on nearby trees that are at least 25 feet high and directed down onto the stairs. Make sure there are at least 2 lights per tree.
• Hardscape lighting allows to safely illuminate outdoor steps and stairways by using engineered wall lights within stones. Either only the stairs, or the walls on both sides of a stairway can be lit.
• Tread lighting uses small step lights, strip lights, or slim hardscape lights. The lights are fixed under each step. This technique gives a unique, bright effect by washing each step with a subtle, even glow that creates an illusion that the steps are floating.
How To Space Landscape Lighting?
Spacing Spotlights And Floodlights
If you’re looking to illuminate specific spots such as landscape features or architectural details, using spotlights will be your best bet as it’s easier to adjust and aim.
Spotlights emit narrow and very concentrated rays, typically at approximately 45 degrees, while floodlights have a wider beam spread with up to 120 degrees. Hence, floodlights are better for areas like driveways.
The beam width in feet is actually more important than the width of the beam spread. The light must properly reach the object or spot, highlighting all its key features.
To figure out the amount of light that is going to reach its subject from a certain distance, this formula might help you:
Angle of Light Beam x 0.018 x Distance from a Light Bulb = Beam Width
For example, having a 100-degree floodlight which you install from 15-feet away, the formula would be: 100 degrees by 0.018 by 15 feet equals 27 feet wide
Spacing Path Lights
Path lights are short and small, and serve as markers that run down a line and define the edges of the walkway.
When choosing path lights for your front yard, take into account their height. They should be fixed at a height of around 14 inches to create a pretty, even glow. In terms of the borders, your path lights should be within one foot from the edges of your path.
Check the diameter of the light around the fixture itself and make sure to install the lights outside of these areas as you don’t want the front of your house to be jam-packed with lighting.
Spacing Outdoor Post Lights And Bollard Lights
Post lights and bollard lights help highlight the path and offer an ambient tone.
Short posts are suitable for pathways and small alcoves, while taller posts work well for driveways and long stretches of lawns.
You need to take into account the number of post lights is required as not to transform your front yard into looking like a football stadium at night. For this, find out how many lights are necessary and check the diameter of the light surrounding the post.
Next, set another light fixture outside of that space. This way, you will find out the proper placement knowing the height of the fixture, while the function of the light will help you decide if it is in the right place.
For the best effect, it’s also recommended to position your fixtures on both sides of the pathway, working back and forth.
As bollard lights are designed to be tall to mark the edges of the path, they need to be spaced proportionally for a consistent look.
Thus, spread them out on alternating sides of the path to achieve the best results and optimal lighting.
Landscape lighting is no longer thought of as a luxury, just for elite neighborhoods. It is affordable for most homeowners and businesses. Great landscape layouts with well-positioned lighting can add a dramatic effect to a property’s evening appearance.
Aside from the fact that they can be an eye-catching feature for visitors, they also serve as a means of safety for the house. Lights directed at trees, paths, fences, ponds, and statues, will create an impressive effect when placed correctly.
Besides choosing the type of lighting, light placement is probably the most important element for the successful design of a landscape lighting system. I hope this article has given you some ideas on how to properly position lights in the front of your house. So why not give it a try?
If you’re interested in ideas on how to power outdoor lights without having an electrical outlet in your yard, please check out my other post for some inspiration.