Tucson Landscape Lighting and Outdoor Lighting Effects
To better understand how lighting achieves different effects, here’s a list of the more common methods of lighting techniques. Since Ted is not only an experienced designer but also a factory certified installer, you’ll be able to more fully appreciate how he’s able to make your home’s landscape lighting truly unique.
Uplighting and Highlighting
Used to create focal points, boulders, plants, sculptures and garden structures can all be uplighted. The process uses two or more spotlight fixtures at the base, angling them upwards to illuminate an item up the base toward the top. Trees and saguaro cacti are among the most common applications for uplighting. Many times this can be overdone by having too many objects highlighted.
Spotlights are placed behind an object, usually a full plant, and aimed at an adjacent wall to create a lighted backdrop. Plants such as yucca or ocotillo can show a dramatic outline form in this manner.
Using a non-reflector micro filament lamp behind a clear lens, the fixture is aimed up at the base of a wall behind the plant or object. Similar to silhouetting, this elliptical light pattern backdrop effect is very strong on long straight walls when used for strong outline style plants. Multiple lights placed apart along the wall produce a scallop pattern, hence the name.
Placing a spot light in front of an object next to a tall adjacent wall not only lights the object but also casts dramatic shadows on the wall. When used on small or immature planting, it transforms the resulting display into a large plant that shows every whiff of wind.
Perfect for high relief stucco walls or natural stone, graze lighting creates a high contrast black and white effect. A series of lamps are placed about 8 inches from the base of the wall in a uniform pattern. It can also be used to highlight bark textures on some plants or highlighting the continuous deep texturing on block walls.
By placing diffused lights 18 inches from a wall and having the fixtures placed about every four feet, it creates a very even and uniform lighting. As a side benefit, a soft, glare-free ambient glow is cast into the surrounding area and, if done correctly, can eliminate the need for path lighting.
As with uplighting, downlighting can be used to light specific garden elements and walkway areas or to illuminate large spaces for safety, security or recreational purposes. Basically, this means placing the light above the object to be highlighted.
Placing a fixture high above a garden or yard and diffusing the light down through the leaves, graceful patterns and low, even ambient lighting are achieved. This effect is best made by having the fixture placed under a protruding building part to hide it from direct view.
To draw attention to any small garden detail, statue, topiary, boulder or fountain, a predictable highlight is used including downlighting, silhouetting or shadowing. Combining a narrow beam pattern with a remote light source can accent an object without an apparent source of light. Trees, trellises and eaves make very good platforms from which to downlight and accent.
Since lighting a path involves lighting for safety, the fixtures are most often the most visible light source. Many times moonlighting or wall washing can be used to adequately light a pathway. This should be preferred simply as a maintenance factor as walk-side lights are susceptible to lawn mowers and any number of pedestrian hazards.
It’s wonderful to have your beautiful lighting suddenly appear without any manual intervention. However, many options for power are available today. Manual switches, timers and photo cells can all be installed for maximum convenience and safety. Any combination of automatic and manual switching is possible and is only limited by your lifestyle needs.