LANDSCAPE LIGHTING WORLD® FORUMS

New Landscape, Adding LV Lights, Need Advice

Discussion in 'Ask' started by Webdweeb, Nov 24, 2019.

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  1. Webdweeb

    Webdweeb New Member

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    I am finishing up a landscape conversion (from traditional lawn to drought tolerant xeriscape) and could use some inputs on the best approach for landscape lighting. I have an existing 600W LV transformer with multiple voltage taps (range of 12-15VAC) that I plan to use to power the lights. I believe I have attached some photos of the finished landscape-any comments or suggestions are most welcome. Front.jpeg Front 2.jpeg rear 1.jpeg rear 2.jpeg
     
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  2. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Member

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    Hi, Webdweeb. I've diagrammed your photos with some of my ideas. My general advice is to consider which architectural and landscape features you think are the most interesting and remarkable. At the same time, it's a good idea to consider where you can install lighting that both beautifies and enhances safety and security. I tried to show multiple lighting techniques for certain areas and my own philosophy is to use a variety of lighting techniques (uplighting, downlighting, backlighting, front lighting, etc) to create a complex and compelling lighting scene overall. Btw, I realize that you might or might not be able to find a way to route wiring to the curbside or tree box area. In the event that you are able to safely use one of those grooves or a crack in the pavement (or even tunnel underneath the sidewalk), you'll have even more lighting options. Finally, since you have nice deep soffits, I think you may want to consider installing some downlighting on the facade or along the side of the house. Hope this helps.
     

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  3. Webdweeb

    Webdweeb New Member

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    Mesodude, thanks for the tips-I do like the idea of an uplight for our parkway tree, so I will explore running a wire to the parkway. I just finished running new irrigation pipe under the sidewalk-too bad I didn't post my photos before that was finished!

    The four wall sconces in the front provide a nice downlight that washes the front facade-I will take a photo this evening and post it so you can see the effect. I also have 6 wall sconce downlights on the side patio (to the right) that do not show up in the photos, so I will do the same with those. I was thinking along the same lines as you, ie, multiple lighting approaches for each area, and since I already have downlights in the front and right side, I was thinking of some mushroom or pagoda lights along the side planter and the front walkways. Not sure what to do with the group of plants closest to the entry-maybe a mushroom downlight in the center of the plantings?

    I like the ideas for the rear, ie, a combo of uplights on the wall and rear hedge and down/path lights along the walkways. You show path lights on one side of the rear walkway-would staggered path lights on both sides also work?

    The other side of the house (not shown) is narrow and has virtually no lighting of any type, so maybe a combo of pagoda lights and recessed lights in the soffit would work for that area, or more of the wall sconces I am using on the patio (right) side.
     
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  4. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Member

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    Glad to help, Webdweeb. That tree is striking and think it would be cool to light it from both sides (so that your guests can more easily find you and you and passersby can enjoy it after sunset). I also thought it’d be great to have the option of adding a path light (to illuminate your curb address, for instance) or two on that side of the walk. Some people treat their wall fixtures as occasional or supplemental lighting. I might turn our porch sconces on if we’re having guests and want to make sure they find our house or if the weather is bad and maybe we think we'll need the extra lighting in the evening. I wasn’t sure if you use your wall fixtures routinely but if you love them and the effect they create, you should definitely include them in your lighting scheme. As far as that entry way planting, if you ever check out my previous recommendations, you’ll learn that I’m something of a lighting minimalist. I think it’s possible to create some stunning effects with a relatively small number of fixtures. Depending on existing lighting, I think a pathway/area light for those plants could work well. However, if you already have a fair amount of light hitting those plants from those wall sconces or a street light, for instance, you might find that a path light there is either overkill or that it gets “washed out” by the existing light. It’s a balancing act. Btw, bear in mind that I’m suggesting areas and specific locations where you might choose to create different effects and install certain types of fixtures as opposed to recommending a recipe. For instance, if you only had path lights in that walkway where the hedges are, I can’t imagine you needing more than three or four and depending on the size and type of path light you choose and the beam spread, it’s possible you could get away with just a couple of fixtures there. Similarly, if you have multiple spots or floodlights on the hedge or if you have soffit lights, you might decide that you get enough spillover light or reflected light that you don’t want any path lights at all. If you do decide to use path lights there, you’ll want to carefully consider how you use that space already. For instance, if you have pets or you have a lot of foot traffic there or you need to bring a hose back there frequently, it might make sense to install some or all of the path lights up in that raised bed area (where they’re less likely to be damaged). So that was a long winded way of saying that staggered path lights could absolutely work there, depending on placement and the kind of foot traffic in that area of your property. Your last sentence shows you’re already thinking like a lighting artist. ;-)
     
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  5. Webdweeb

    Webdweeb New Member

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    Here are a couple of evening photos that show the existing lighting:

    front night.jpeg front night 2.jpeg side patio night.jpeg side patio night 2.jpeg
    For the front, uplights for the front wall and the parkway tree would definitely enhance the appearance. I was thinking of lights along the entry walkway, but seeing this I am now wondering if maybe a couple of pagoda lights on either side of the dry creek bed would look better.

    For the side patio, there is plenty of ambient light from the wall sconces (they are on dimmers), so I think a few pagoda lights for the planter on the right is all I need there.

    For the rear (not pictured at night since there is no ambient light), I agree that keeping most of the lights in the raised bed is better, maybe a couple of pagoda lights for the path and a couple of uplights for the hedges and the house wall.
     
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  6. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Member

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    I like many of your ideas and your photos are really helpful. It appears the wall fixtures illuminate your patio pretty well. If you agree, rather than add more area lighting you might consider illuminating the shrubs in that side bed with 2-3 spotlights or floodlights. Floodlights would cast some cool shadows against that fence. One thing that we haven't talked about (which is also largely a matter of personal preference) is light color temperature. It could be my eyes, my monitor, the camera or some combination of the three but all the lights on your house appear to be towards the cooler end of the spectrum. Cooler color spectrum lighting can make buildings look cold and institutional. IMO, in your case this is amplified by the neutral tones of your architecture, house trim, fence and walkways. If my eyes aren't deceiving me, those are 3000K or cooler (perhaps "daylight"?) bulbs in your wall fixtures. Generally speaking, that color range is more suitable for illuminating your plants and other landscape features. So, I encourage you to experiment with warmer color temperature bulbs in your wall fixtures to see which temperature range is more appealing. Whatever color temp you decide on, you'll want to be consistent so that your house is lit uniformly. I would also consider experimenting with bulbs with lower lumens on your walls (especially on the front). My impression from the photos is that combined with the brightness of the bulbs themselves and the light color of the walls (perhaps there's also street lighting?), the house, the foreground and your plantings are already being illuminated by a lot of spillover and reflected light. If that's your desired effect or if you're perhaps lighting to enhance security, by all means go with what works for you. I would be mindful, however, that a remarkably high level of ambient lighting will mute the effect of your landscape lighting. My point is that your house can still look amazing with bulbs that aren't quite as bright and the features you illuminate with landscape lighting will be more dramatic and compelling. So now that I've overwhelmed you, keep in mind that most of what I've written is just my personal opinion. Feel free to embrace all, some, or none of my ideas. https://www.voltlighting.com/article-led-lighting-color-temperature/p/article-led-color-temp
     
  7. Webdweeb

    Webdweeb New Member

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    OK, after much thought and some experimentation, here is my plan:

    front yard: 2 spotlights illuminating the jade plant, 1-2 more uplighting the parkway tree, 2-3 mushroom lights to illuminate the group of salvia, sage and lavender near the entry, 1-2 to illuminate the low group of succulents near the sidewalk. No path lights for the parkway at this time, will see how all this looks first.
    side patio: 4 pagoda lights along the patio planter
    back yard: 4 pagoda lights along the rear walkway, in the raised planter, 2 spotlights illuminating the tree ferns against the rear house wall.

    The side patio wall sconces are on dimmers, which I will adjust in conjunction with the pagoda lights for the best light level. I plan to add a dimmer for the 4 front wall sconces to reduce the ambient light from those so they don't wash out the front yard landscape lights.

    Possible addition: 6-8 pagoda lights along the west sidewalk-this area is very dark and could use some path lights for both safety and appearance. I will likely use a separate transformer for these since it is not close to the main transformer.
     
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  8. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Member

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    Sounds like a very smart and versatile plan, Webdweeb. I really like the idea of dimmers on the wall fixtures.
     
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