As the focus shifts to nestling in for the colder months, increased attention has been paid to optimizing outdoor living spaces, a notion which relies heavily on lighting and irrigation elements.
From extending the window of opportunity for gatherings to preserving the property’s aesthetic through the seasons, these twin pillars of landscape design have come to be viewed as less of a luxury and more of a necessity as of late.
Light the Night for Extended Backyard Fun
Adding lighting to your landscape can boost home security, increasing safety at night—both from prowlers and those less-visible obstacles, such as swimming pool borders, steps, and rogue trash cans—allowing you to enjoy your outdoor space long after the sun sets. Depending upon the layout of your property, there are a host of fixtures and lighting types to choose from, each ideally designed to illuminate trees and shrubs, pathways and borders, and custom architectural accents.
While some lower-voltage options may be accomplished as DIY home improvement projects, it is recommended that property owners consider the power source, bulb types, and tactical approach required before tackling such tasks. For those looking to incorporate more complex spotlights, underground well lights, wide-angled floodlights, pathway lighting and more, it’s advisable to enlist the assistance of a professional lighting company to ensure proper layout and installation. Many of these features may be enhanced with automation, utilizing the modern conveniences of timers, dimmers, motion sensors, and remote controls.
Lighting types are typically categorized based on their role—overall, designed to illuminate an entire space; task, meant for a specific purpose, such as to highlight a path or entryway; and accent, used to draw attention to an object or area, usually with spotlights. Bulbs, as well, should be chosen based on their intended function—incandescents, halogens, fluorescents, and LEDs are just a few of the options available, ranging in shelf life, cost, energy usage and color selection. Regardless of choice, it’s important to replace any burned-out bulbs immediately so others aren’t subject to potentially life-shortening overloads; likewise, care should be taken to keep fixtures free of leaves and debris to prevent overheating.
Design takes on a form of artistry when it comes to orchestrating the proper illumination of your property. Some helpful hints to keep in mind:
- Trees: Aim lights upward into the foliage, making sure to illuminate the trunk, as well.
- Planting Beds: Space fixtures about 20 feet apart, with the light guiding your eyes from one plant to the next.
- Home Façade: Aim at the corners of the house or architectural details, letting softer lights fill in the gaps in between.
- Garden Walls: Position lights close to the base so its beams bring textures into sharp focus.
- Focal Points: Aim two or more lights to reduce harsh shadows and softly feature the object on display.
Hydration Key to Lush Landscapes
Irrigation systems can provide much-needed savings in usage, cost, and time spent watering your softscape, while enabling plants to flourish year-round. Many methods are available, from pop-up and portable sprinklers to drip irrigation, hoses and rainwater collection receptacles, depending upon your particular property needs.
It’s important to establish a baseline derived from lawn area, the presence of drought-tolerant plants, perennial beds, and edible gardens, as this will determine the frequency and duration of irrigation needed. Consider your typical climate, average rainfall totals, and added environmental factors such as elevation, sun versus shade, and soil composition when making this evaluation. It’s advisable to group similar types of plants together to optimize the irrigation and zero in on those sections of landscape which may require added attention.
Irrigation options include: micro-irrigation, in which water is funneled directly to the root systems, only using what’s needed, best suited for fruit trees, shrubs, and ground cover; a flood system, which saturates the ground rather than spraying the plants, ideal for adobe and clay-type soils; rotary sprinklers, which—as the name suggests—rotate in a circle, mainly recommended for turf landscapes; and a spray irrigation system, which typically pops up only when in use, designed for smaller areas.
Dodds & Eder provides lighting and irrigation services as part of its full suite of property management offerings. Contact our veteran staff of landscape maintenance and design professionals to plan your project today.