The gardening bug is rising again! Time to review all the purchases that didn’t get made last year and see if I can’t get it done this year.
With so many choices of lighting, and the different areas that need lit I have a tough time deciding on lights. When considering lighting schemes there are a number of factors to consider. How does the lighting need to function? Are you only trying to usher your guests safely to your door? Do you have trees that would look spectacular lit up at night? How about architectural features?
Solar vs Low-Voltage
Another consideration is the type of lighting your site would be suited to use. Solar technology has come a long way in recent years and many solar path lights have the same staying power and brightness of a low-voltage electric system. Solar is easy to install, economical and versatile. If you have areas far from an electric source, solar can fill be more easily incorporated than running miles of lines you have to remember are buried somewhere. The biggest factor for the success of solar is access to direct sunlight and plenty of it. If the photovoltaic cells are on each light some may shine more brightly than others, and some may end up being duds in more shady areas. If you have no concern for garden lights being lit past 9pm in your partly shaded yard solar may still do the trick for you. If you have a yard like mine though with mature shade trees low voltage lighting is your best bet if you want a dependable lighting source. Low voltage lights can be installed easily by the homeowner when you have a readily available outdoor outlet.
The last factor is one that most people have to consider and that’s budget. Solar can be a most economical way to go if the conditions are right as you are only looking at the cost of the system and batteries every few years depending on their type. Solar light kits are available.
There are many low voltage kits out there that comprise of pathway lighting and up lights or flood lights for trees or architectural features. These come with a voltage converter and are easily installed if you have an outdoor outlet already waiting. I am going to have to look into the cost of at least one additional and more likely two outlets to accommodate a lighting scheme. I also have a sprinkler control system that has the ability to control lighting as well.
Yet to me the most important aspect for lighting is it should have a cohesive look and a durable finish. You do not want to spend the time laying out a lighting scheme, only to have faded, cracked or broken fixtures a couple years down the road. In hot sunny and cold Colorado plastic fixtures do not hold up well and can detract from the landscape.
- Stairs from back patio – 2 lights mounted on each side of the raised planters to illuminate the steps. 6 in total. Stair lights will not work as they are meant to illuminate a stair from the riser above and shine straight down. Looking at deck post lights and not finding much that would give the illumination I need. So far this pathway light is the closest I’ve seen.
- Garden path lights – Lights will flank the perimeter of the circular pea gravel walkway. I do not want the lights to necessarily be a feature in the daytime, so no long poles or flashy colors. They should be low to the ground. Although I have found the following lights that look like they will hold up. Mushroom Lights
Solar has the advantage of avoiding the cost for an electrician to install another outlet for a transformer. Solar seems more versatile until you get to my backyard where there is a good amount of shade cast through-out the day.
One place solar might be nice is as accents in the garden. I am considering purchasing the following string of lights to give my wrought iron trellis’ a presence at night.