DIY Network

How to Plan Outdoor Landscape Lighting

Lighting is all about mood. You can change your home's mood with the flick of a switch.

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landscape lighting sets the mood of home at night

Step 1: Watch an Overview Video

Step 2: Determine what Type of Lighting to Purchase

First, get a good look at your house and the landscaping to determine what kind of lights you need. Check local codes and location of easements before installation. Put your ideas to graph paper or use a computer landscaping program.

Consider operating your lights from the inside or with an automatic program. Follow manufacturer's installation instructions for all lighting. Use a voltage meter to test your stems. Voltage issues lead to a bad operation and increased maintenance costs.

Lighting kits are available, but buy individual components for a more custom job. Each system has three parts; a transformer (converts your household current to 12 volts), one or more runs of cable (goes from the transformer to your lights) and the lighting fixtures.

plan out landscaping design on paper or computer

Step 3: Accent Features with Uplights

Uplights, like recessed well lights, accent features such as trees; place these behind shrubs for a natural effect. It's better to use fewer lights placed close together. Center your lighting on a focal point like your front door and key plants.

accent lights in landscaping have dramatic effect

Step 4: Consider Solar Lighting

Solar lights that charge during the day can illuminate for eight hours. Solar lighting performance depends on the amount of light received during the day. Avoid placing lights in turf where they are in harm's way from mowers. Put them in mulch beds or a perch, like a wall or tree.

solar lights charge during day and light at night

Step 5: Add Style with a Lamppost

For a signature look, install a stylish lamppost next to the main entrance. Using flood lights gives extra security to an area like a side door. Area lighting shines in a 360-degree circle, great for flower gardens. Directional lights shine on trees or the side of your house.