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January 11, 2021

Landscape Lighting

I love my backyard. We have a wide shallow lot that back up to woods. It is a wonderful view that changes with the seasons (by Florida standards, anyway…). Our actual yard isn’t very deep – but we were able to squeeze a 10’ wide pool in for swimming laps. The woods behind make the yard somehow feel bigger and more intimate at the same time – during the day, that is.

Even in Florida, winter brings shorter days, and I only see what is behind my house on weekends. In the dead of winter, the backyard is mostly dark by the time I get home from the office. Of course, I never seem to have time in the mornings to enjoy the backyard as it seems I was always late for work.

Yes, the pool lights up at night and we have a firepit, which I had initially thought would be enough. Turns out, they didn’t provide the effect I was going for. Both became bright, glowing rectangles whose light completely overwhelmed the rest of the yard and the woods beyond – casting them into complete darkness even under a full moon. In the case of the firepit when lit, the perimeter of the firepit (which happens to be black) completely disappears – turning its corners into invisible obstacles that more often than not find my shins as I try to blindly navigate around them.

Then, over the holidays, we put up one string of lights in the bushes behind the pool. Nothing fancy, but it suddenly clicked. Finally – I saw the light! Not only could we begin to see the landscaping but the reflections of the lights on the pool were lovely.

So, this week we added low voltage, landscape lights! WOW. They are transformational! I feel foolish for not doing this sooner.

  • We have lights along with edge of the pool deck – including one near the firepit (illuminating the dangerous corners) defining the space.
  • We have lights shining up on our crepe myrtle trees. Even this time of year when they are sticks, they look interesting and very sculptural in the up lights. I can’t wait to see them later this year when they are in full bloom.
  • We have up lights shining on our privacy hedge, creating a perimeter. The sense of enclosure is comforting.
  • We have lights along the edge of the pool, creating lovely reflections of light in the rippling water below. While only three, the effect goes a long way.
  • But my favorites lights are the ones lighting the woods behind our home. What once was a black abyss is now a charming and dramatic backdrop. As a bonus, the lighting makes nighttime putting possible!

You don’t have to brave the elements to enjoy your backyard in January. It was cold this week by Florida standards (there I go again with the “Florida” concession – it WAS cold!) but there we were, bundled up at night enjoying our beautiful backyard and its transformational illumination. When inside, I can’t stop staring out the windows at my beautiful yard. It’s a good thing it gets dark early now while we can’t get enough of this wonderful new experience – so I won’t be up all night. I do have to go to work in the morning!

As it turns out, I’m not the only one in the office who has discovered the power of outdoor lighting. Our own Kevin DeClerk also used lighting to make his backyard come alive at night, lighting up trees to frame the yard and using pathway lights down the dock to draw the eye out into the river. What was once an ominous blank screen at night is now a magical scene with drama and personality that you don’t get during the daytime.

For those of you in new home sales who are selling at dusk and into darkness this time a year, what an amazing transformation these lights offer – especially further up north! The challenge will be later in the year and into the summer when the days are longer, and the model homes close before dark. Will those buyers miss out on this great outdoor enhancement? Will nighttime photos be enough to win them over? Or will this be an after-market discovery like mine was – 5 years later? I would love to know your thoughts. Email me at dpatterson@housingdesignmatter.com.

Thanks for including me in your day.

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This post was written by Housing Design Matters