Lighting up your landscape is not just an exercise at beautifying your property, but is more like a mixture of art and science. Every landscape lighting designer, knowing just that, should consider the following six things before beginning to work on a lighting plan for any landscape:
- The goals of the client, and what he wishes to achieve
- What makes up an ambient light levels
- The elements and objects to be illuminated
- The kind of plants which will require illumination
- What does not need lighting
Analyzing each of these aspects in detail will better help you understand their significance and importance.
Understanding your client’s objectives, and what he wishes to achieve
The first step for every landscape lighting designer is to understand what the client wishes to achieve, and the kind of view at night which he or she is looking to obtain. The client may have more than a single goal in mind, right from safety/security to emphasizing the architectural qualities of his buildings and the various unique landscape features. Depending on the intended use of the site at night, its illumination plan will be decided. Landscape Lighting is highly subjective as to brightness levels, desirability of effects etc. What is spectacular to one customer may not be acceptable to another.
The following questions, when asked to the client in this phase, will help you better understand things as a designer:
- Who or what is the targeted user or use at night?
- What is the location of the space to be used at night?
- Is it only for viewing, or will viewers also navigate through it?
- What will the space be used for at night?
- What are the Ambient Light Levels for the site?
- What is the specific feature or critical focus to be highlighted?
The ambient level of light for a site is what the designer can use for achieving the requisite effect from lightning. This level is influenced from a variety of factors, including street lights, existing site lights as well as lights from the nearby properties (if any).
Which objects and things are going to be illuminated?
Before working on the landscape lighting plan, identifying the objects and/or spaces that require illumination is necessary. The focal points of the design are what make up the circulation system for the lighting design.
The colors as well as materials of the objects which are to be illuminated should serve as an ideal starting point. For rough textured objects, accentuating with illumination techniques is the thing to do, while for dark surfaces, more light will be required. For a savvy designer, finding this information as early in the design process as possible is the right thing to do.
What are the kinds of plants that are to be illuminated?
With plants, you can add a dramatic affect on the entire lighting design. Trees cannot just be up-lit, but can also be down-lit, used to cast shadows and even silhouetted. With landscape lighting effects, you can make the most of several interesting forms and plant texture that make up the landscape.
What does not need lighting?
The key to a good lighting plan is understanding that every landscape element does not require illumination. Single out the items that do not need illumination, either for safety or as an accent to the landscape. Light pollution and trespass are some of the things that you should avoid. Cutoff fixtures for directing light from the sky and to the ground can be an excellent way for avoiding light pollution.