Outdoor lighting can add depth and drama to the evening appearance of a home and is a great way to highlight the best features of landscaping or architecture. There are a variety of outdoor lighting options to choose from including sconces, pendants, pier mount lights and many others. However, in this buyer’s guide we will focus on outdoor lighting that is installed in or near the ground: mainly recessed well lights, pond lights and spot lights.
Know Your Fixtures
Recessed well lights (often just referred to as in ground lighting) consist of small, low profile lights which are installed recessed into the ground. These fixtures will typically sit nearly flush with the ground that surrounds them for a clean and unobtrusive look.
Pond lights are similar to recessed well lights in size, however, they are specifically designed for use in wet environments such as in or around ponds. These lights can be installed underwater or mounted among rocks, and are used to accent the best features of an outdoor pond at night time.
Spot lights are impactful outdoor light fixtures that sit above ground. These feature adjustable heads and use small but powerful bulbs to cast light at a specific spot (typically angled upwards).
Make a Plan
Before shopping for your outdoor lighting, it can be helpful to plan out where in the yard you want the lights, and what affects you would like them to create. You could even create a simple sketch of your yard detailing where light should be cast. Although there is room for creativity within the general guidelines, there are specific types of outdoor lighting fixtures which work best for certain needs or spaces, and having a plan for your lighting can help make the purchasing process much simpler.
When selecting which type of fixture to place where, keep in mind the following general placements:
- Recessed well lighting is typically installed along walkways, down the edges of driveways, on the perimeters of decks or along other natural divisions.
- Pond lighting is used for lighting ponds or small fountains. Frequently pond lighting is placed in such a way that it can cast light on key features such as plants or waterfalls.
- Spot lights are perfect for lighting things that are not on the ground or walkways, such as trees, bushes, or architectural points of a home.
It should also be noted that in ground lighting comes in a range of variations able to support different types of light bulbs including halogen, HID, fluorescent, incandescent and LED. Halogen, LED, HID and fluorescent bulbs are particularly energy efficient selections with longer lives than typical incandescents, so you may want to look for these, as they are ideal options for outdoor lighting.
Install Your New Lighting
Planning and purchasing your outdoor lighting are only the first steps to creating a beautiful lighting arrangement in your yard. The actual installation will take time, care, and possibly the help of a professional (depending on the complexity of your project). It is important to note that nearly all outdoor ground lighting will be 12 volt, so be sure to purchase a transformer that fits the outdoor lighting you have chosen.
Although installation will vary depending on the specific fixtures that you select, the project will typically roughly follow these steps:
- 1. Plan where the lights will be installed
- 2. Run any necessary wiring (in cold areas it is important to bury wiring 12-18 inches underground)
- 3. Install the transformer
- 4. Dig holes/prepare installation site for your ground lighting
- 5. Connect the fixture to the wiring that you have run
- 6. Fill in any holes or trenches from the wiring
Then you’re finished, and ready to enjoy a beautifully lit home or landscape!