Landscape Lighting Ideas, Mistakes, Costs & More
Table of Contents
When you give directions to your house, nobody wants to hear this:
“It’s the dark one. Just fumble your way up the driveway and try to find the porch without tripping over a tricycle.”
You want your house to be a beacon of welcome, softly glowing with well-lit entries and paths. And if your most beautiful landscaping features are tastefully highlighted with pools of pretty light, well, you look all the better.
If your landscape lighting design is really great, you might even sit in your car for a couple of extra minutes, just to gaze at it. Even though your precious bourbon praline pecan ice cream is melting.
But as great as a home with expert outdoor lighting looks, it’s not all about looks.
- Lighting walkways, paths, steps, and stairs help you feel confident about your property’s safety.
- Expert landscape lighting will deter creepy people from looking in your windows or lurking in the bushes. (If that makes you shudder, it should.) Lighting makes it easy for neighbors to spot any would-be prowlers.
- The right driveway lighting adds impressive curb appeal, but it also keeps you and your visitors safe and prevents accidents.
The good news — professional landscape lighting is a great multi-tasker. It can do all this safety stuff and make your home look welcoming and wow-worthy all at the same time.
It all starts with a few great outdoor lighting ideas.
What’s the best landscape lighting design for a driveway? Should you light the backyard or just the front yard? What’s the best way to light a swimming pool?
Let’s dive in.
Landscape Lighting Ideas for Your Front Yard and Entryway
While most of the fun happens in the backyard — parties, grilling, eating chocolate-covered donuts in your robe — the front yard is your home saying “Hello.”
Add warm and welcoming landscape lighting to highlight its best features and it says, “Hey there, woo hoo!”
Here’s how to get that woo hoo welcome:
First, Some Staring
Head out front, maybe even set up a chair, and really give your front yard and entry a good look.
What stands out? Columns? An archway? Interesting stone or brick? Unique trees or pretty plants? An intriguing roofline?
Light the good stuff. You’ll love the way the light catches the arches or highlights the texture of your brick.
Your Plants are Afraid of the Dark
OK, not really. But pretend they are.
Here in Central Florida, we have some real landscape stunners. Fluffy foxtail palm. Dramatic, bold-leaf croton. Exotic Xanadu philodendron.
Lighting these beauties at night shows off their dramatic shapes. They actually look more intriguing and mysterious when professional landscape lighting casts magical shadows and adds a boost of drama.
The lacy leaves of your Japanese maple, your stunning 6-foot tall croton, the cool multiple trunks of that Pygmy date palm take on a whole new captivating presence when landscape lighting transforms them after the sun goes down.
Pro tip: sometimes tree lighting needs a boost.
Uplighting your front yard trees from below makes a stunning impact, but plants at the base of the tree can obscure the light.
Put the light fixtures on risers so they clear the foliage.
Light Your Entry
If you’re rolling your eyes right now, that’s understandable. Lighting your entry is a no-brainer, right? But you’d be surprised how many entrances need a lighting boost.
Old, dated fixtures with dingy incandescent bulbs are pretty common.
You want outdoor lighting that spills enough light to safely illuminate your way and highlight your front door without casting a glare.
Go for a combination of tasteful floodlights from below and attractive lighting from above, working together for beauty and security.
Walk This Way — Safely
Don’t forget to light your front walkway and porch steps. You can’t feel confident about your property’s safety without it.
Worried that step lights will trip you? Don’t be. They tuck out of sight, flush to the back part of the step, adding just enough light to see where you’re going.
Pro tip: Avoid those lantern-style lights lining your paths. All you see is the bulb, so you have a bunch of bright dots in your landscape.
Instead, choose fixtures with caps that direct the light down, so you don’t see the fixture or bulb — you just see nice light illuminating your path.
Use Landscape Lighting Zones
Consider landscape lighting installation with separate zones you can control. That lets you put your front yard on its own timer, to stay on longer than your backyard, maybe, or turn off sooner.
Today’s landscape lighting controllers make it super easy — you can control everything from your smartphone.
Landscape Lighting Ideas for Your Driveway
If you think your driveway is just that boring stretch from the street to your door, you might be right.
Your driveway needs a great landscape lighting design to really shine.
The right driveway lighting keeps you and your visitors safe prevents accidents, deters intruders, and can boost your curb appeal.
And you thought it was just the place for your kids to leave their skateboards. Right in the middle. Where people could trip. (Insert heavy sigh here.)
Trade those trips for these driveway outdoor lighting tips:
- Use lighting to define your driveway’s borders, mark the end so people can easily see where to enter, and guide foot traffic from your driveway to your front or side door.
- If you’re lucky and trees line your driveway, use uplighting to highlight them. You’ll boost your landscaping appeal and help illuminate your driveway at the same time.
- No room for path lights? Central Florida landscape lighting companies can make even tight spaces work. Lights can be installed directly into the driveway surface.
- Your driveway is part of your landscaping, so the lighting should compliment both the style of your house and the rest of your landscape lighting, whether it’s sleek contemporary bollards or vintage-style street lamps.
Landscape Lighting Ideas for Your Backyard
This is where the fun happens. And we don’t just mean loud backyard parties where somebody calls the police.
Backyard fun also means romantic patio dinners. Relaxing evenings listening to the birds chirp goodnight. Fun with a few friends and a platter of your famous sticky honey garlic chicken wings.
It all needs landscape lighting design. (You don’t want those sticky wings ending up in somebody’s lap, right?)
What to light? Get started with these ideas:
The Fun Spots
Take a good look at the spots in your yard where you relax, entertain, and have fun. Do they have outdoor lighting? Why not?
Think pergolas, fire pits, patios, sitting walls, outdoor kitchens.
Professional landscape lighting highlights the architecture of these pretty spots, enhances their safety, creates a cozy ambiance, and sets the mood for evening entertaining.
String Lights Scream Fun
(Maybe that’s why somebody called the police — they heard your string lights screaming.)
These festive lights look inviting, add a party atmosphere, and kind of make you feel like you’re at a fun restaurant or resort.
Lights for Steps, Walkways, and Stairs
Safety first. Light the places where you and your guests walk. Your deck stairs. The walkway out to the pool. Steps from one level of your patio to the other.
Subtle recessed landscape lighting offers just enough light for safety without distracting from the evening fun.
Trees and Plants
Yes, your hardscape needs lighting, from under cap lights in your fire pit seating to path lighting out to the patio.
But when you’re lounging on the patio or gathered around the fire pit, you’ll be looking around, right?
Do you want to gaze out into a spooky black hole? Light your trees and plants to create pretty scenery you can enjoy after the sunsets.
Everybody loves to relax in a romantic moonlit glow. But sometimes party-crashing clouds get in the way.
Create your own “moonlight” with an outdoor lighting design that puts fixtures up in the trees or on the eaves of your house to spill light down on your backyard. The next best thing to the real thing.
Landscape Lighting Ideas for Your Pool
Imagine the scene if your pool had no lighting.
People tripping and tumbling into the pool with their clothes on. Beach balls being tossed, but never caught. Nobody could admire your great new swimsuit.
In other words, chaos.
While swimming pools typically have their own lighting inside the pool, a few great outdoor lighting ideas for the surrounding landscaping are sure to make a splash:
Pool Cage Lighting
Does your pool have a cage? (Also called a screen.) Central Florida landscape lighting companies can install lighting on the cage itself to help light the patio inside the screen.
Pro tip: Don’t direct outdoor lighting onto the pool screen, though. Glare bouncing off the screen panels will make it hard to see through the screen.
Are there palms or other trees nearby that would love some landscape lighting? That can make a huge dramatic impact around your pool.
Well, Well, Well…
If your pool deck is under construction, lighting pros can integrate well lights into the surface.
Here’s a tip: if you’re constructing a pool, have wiring installed underneath the decking in case you want to add landscape lighting later, so crews won’t have to tear up your decking to install it.
Light the Steps
Does your pool area include a deck or patio with steps? Remember what we’ve said about steps? Please light them. Falling is never fun.
Don’t worry about step lighting getting in the way. Orlando landscape lighting companies can tuck inconspicuous lights right into that vertical part of a stair, called the riser.
You won’t notice the fixture — just the perfect pools of light keeping everybody safe.
Don’t Overdo It
Remember, built-in pool lighting is pretty bright. You don’t need to light everything around it. It’s a relaxing pool area, not a hospital operating room.
You should. Put your pool area lighting on dimmers you can control with your smartphone.
Then with a simple click, you can make the landscape lighting brighter or dimmer to suit the atmosphere, your safety needs, and your walk from the hot tub to the house in your swimsuit that’s become a bit too small. (The dryer obviously shrunk it.)
The Biggest Landscape Lighting Mistakes to Avoid
If outdoor lighting is so great, pile it on and don’t worry, it’ll look great, right?
Not exactly. Not all outdoor lighting ideas are winners.
Avoid these landscape lighting mistakes:
They seem like a good idea, right?
Easy. Cheap. Powered by the sun!
These flimsy lights should flash a red warning blinker not to use them. But they’re not powerful enough.
Why is solar outdoor lighting a mistake?
- The solar panels don’t last long, so you’re just wasting your money.
- It’s wasteful to keep throwing your worn-out plastic fixtures into the landfill. The environment will thank you for going with hard-wired lighting, and your home will look more high-end, too.
- Thinking of it as a wise budget move? Maybe it used to be, but today’s LED lighting uses a small fraction of the energy older incandescent landscape lighting does.
Too Much Outdoor Lighting
If a few lights are good, lots of lights must be even better.
It’s tempting to spotlight every tree, plant, column, and paver. But all that light will just wash out your yard. Your neighbors, squinting against the blinding glare, won’t be too thrilled, either.
Just light the special stuff. Draw attention to the majestic palm tree out front, your cool arched entryway, that creative brickwork.
Add landscape lighting to your standout features to help them, well, stand out.
Sure, landscape lighting design should be pretty. But it should also be practical.
It’s easy to get carried away with lighting your great new pergola, your precious palm, that stunning arched entryway.
But landscape lighting should also help you and your visitors make your way to entrances after dark. It should help you safely enjoy your deck, pool, or patio. It should keep you from tripping over whatever skateboard, rake, or dog toy somebody left on the driveway.
Don’t forget to focus on function, too.
If you’re one of those tidy people who line everything up perfectly, from the towels in your cupboard to the asparagus on your plate, you might hate this.
Don’t perfectly line up your walkway or path lights. This isn’t an airport runway.
Staggering those lights is much more welcoming.
Should You Do Your Own Landscape Lighting Installation?
If you’ve been thinking about landscape lighting at all, you’ve probably noticed they make kits designed to DIY the whole thing yourself.
Hmmmmm. Can you pull this off? Or will this be just like the Great Drywall Disaster of 2017? (Yes, that was legendary.)
Let’s shed some light on the subject.
How Important is Quality?
Chances are, it won’t be great.
Your box of fixtures will either be made of plastic or cheap aluminum. As the months and years pass, you can watch them deteriorate, from flaking paint to water damage.
The wiring is pretty skimpy, too. And the transformer might not be powerful enough for the job.
Professional landscape lighting companies in Central Florida have access to higher-quality fixtures and components and heftier wire than you have as a do-it-yourselfer.
Are You a Landscape Lighting Designer?
Of course not. Why would you be reading this? You’d be out creating something amazing.
This job could really use one. Pros know the creative stuff nobody would expect you to know, like the importance of using a variety of different bulbs, with assorted beam spreads and wattage, to create a landscape lighting design suited to your unique home and needs.
Why would that box of fixtures on the store shelf perfectly highlight your home if it’s the same kit your neighbor bought?
Easy answer: It wouldn’t.
Central Florida landscape lighting companies can customize your landscape lighting to your home and landscaping.
What About the Warranty?
Check the fine print. Here at Ground Source, we offer a 10-year warranty against corrosion on all powder-coated finishes, natural metal finishes, and all composite fixtures and enclosures.
All stainless steel transformers manufactured after 2004 have lifetime warranties on enclosures, finishes, and internal components.
That DIY kit probably has a limited 1-year warranty. Even the manufacturers don’t trust this stuff to hold up.
Did We Mention This is Harder Than it Looks?
The instructions on that box will only take you so far.
How do you figure out if you’re about to overload your transformer or breaker?
Can you position the lights so they don’t cause annoying glare for your neighbors?
Is uplighting best for a certain spot? Or downlighting?
Landscape lighting design pros know about the big things, like planning the right color temperature and expert placement so your yard looks subtly stunning, not garish and overdone.
We also know the little things, like putting grease on your bulb pins so they don’t corrode and get stuck.
You don’t want to mess this up.
Landscape Lighting Costs
So, there you are daydreaming about lighting your driveway, your front entrance, your patio, and your pool when suddenly a light bulb appears over your head. (Handy, right?)
How much will all this professional landscape lighting cost?
Professional landscape lighting in Central Florida starts at $2,200 for a basic package that includes a transformer, five or six lights, LED bulbs, and 200 feet of wire — all high-quality components.
Of course, you can pay more. The sky’s the limit, really. Some homeowners want elaborate landscape lighting with color-changing displays to dazzle the neighbors that can cost $20,000 or more.
But the average cost for outdoor lighting is between $2,500 and $5,000.
Several factors determine the cost of landscape lighting installation:
The Number of Fixtures
This is a big factor when it comes to landscape lighting costs.
A lighting system with seven to ten lights typically costs $2,000 to $3,250, while a lighting system with twenty lights will likely cost around $4,000.
The further you run the lights from the 110-120 volt to the transformer, the dimmer the lights will be.
Adding a larger or additional transformer can fix that. A transformer typically costs $200 – $400.
Difficulty of Installation
Do pavers have to be removed to install wiring? Are tree roots in the way?
The more obstacles for Central Florida landscape lighting companies, the higher the cost.
Do you want wi-fi included so you can operate lighting with your smartphone? That adds to the cost of landscape lighting installation.
Is the Installation in New or Existing Landscaping?
Adding outdoor lighting during a new landscaping project typically costs less because the lights can go in without repairs to the landscaping. It also takes less time — installers don’t have to dig around obstacles to bury the conduit.
Freaking Out About the Cost?
Keep in mind you can install the transformer, wires, and minimum fixtures for now, and add in more fixtures over time. Phew, right?
Once your yard is wired, it’s easy to add more fixtures later.
Hiring a Landscape Lighting Company
Landscape lighting is trickier than it looks.
Just because a guy named Louie has “Louie’s Landscape Lighting: Let Me Light Up Your Life” painted on the side of his truck doesn’t mean you should hire him.
(Actually, that’s a decent reason NOT to hire him.)
Even legitimate landscaping companies vary in their level of lighting expertise. Not everybody does it well.
You want a pro on the job. How to find one? Ask these questions:
- How long has the Central Florida landscape lighting company been in business? Are you confident they’ll be around if you have problems or questions?
- Will they happily give you references to check out? Take the time to drive past homes where they’ve installed lighting to check out the results.
- Do they do a lot of landscape lighting design and installation, or is this just a small thing they do on the side?
- What do their customers say? Have you checked out their Google Reviews? If a ton of people left reviews and the company also has close to five stars, they’ve made a lot of homeowners happy.
- Do they have a designer on staff? A designer can help make sure all the right elements are tastefully highlighted. And they’ll have cool outdoor lighting ideas that might not have occurred to you. Not all Orlando landscape lighting companies have one on staff.
Beyond the Basics
Look for a Central Florida landscape lighting company that goes beyond basic wiring and fixtures. They should know how to plan the right color temperature and expert placement so your yard looks subtly stunning, not garish and overdone.
If it isn’t installed by experts, it can cast an uncomfortable and unattractive glare.
Is uplighting best for a certain spot? Or downlighting?
What style of fixtures will complement your home’s architecture? How far away from the transformer can fixtures be?
Ask us anything. You’ll love our answers.
Let’s get started.
We’re landscape lighting experts, but our skills don’t stop there. We’re with you every step of the way as you plan your perfect outdoor space.
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