Have you ever thought about just how much time you are actually home, and it's dark outside? Summer nights we stay out later to enjoy the mild evenings and time with family and friends. Winter months the sun sets long before we pull into the drive. How do we see all the beautiful things we have done in our landscape ? Outdoor lighting!!
Solar lights seem cost efficient and easy, however the technology is not quite at the point to do more than illuminate themselves. This will not provide the highlighting you are looking for, but more of an "airplane runway" look for your yard. What starts off cheap and easy ends up being a collosial waste of money.
While it is always good to work with a professionsal so you can get the appropriate equipment and answers to questions, low voltage landscape lighting is surprisingly easy to install yourself! The transformer lowers the electrical voltage from a dangerous 110 to 12 volts, allowing you to work safely.
Begin with the end in mind, and start off with a good plan. Look at your yard and see ALL the places you might be able to highlight certain features... and don't be afraid to experiment! Uplighting, or splashing light on trees and walls (not into a window of course) is a natural place to start. Evergreens will soak up a lot of light in their branches, so don't be afraid to plan for two lights on one tree. Deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves in the winter) are beautiful in all seasons, just be aware you might have to move the light around a bit to accomodate summer foliage and winter branches.
Path lights, or down lights, are nice to highlight walkways, landscape rocks, or other special features. In planning for these you want to keep them out of grass areas, otherwise you will be cutting the wire with your lawn mower or weed wacker! Place them in your mulch areas close to the grass. Lights installed directly into a wall or step are fantastic, however we recommend a professional installation for these unless you are execptionally handy!
The important thing to remember at all times is light is to be used for saftey AND beauty. Too little light and you are tripping over yourself, too much and you loose the drama of dark next to light. We are going for highlighting here, not Clark Griswald and Christmas Vacation!
You will ALWAYS want a good quality transformer. We like using Kischler, Vista, and Universal for our installs, however most professional grade transformers will work well. With the advent of LED technology, we can use much lower wattage than ever before, however you want to make sure you buy enough to support the lights you install today, and the ones you might want to add in the future!