As a landscape architect, I’ve developed specific design philosophies in the many aspects of landscape architecture — hardscapes, lighting, furnishing, water features and others. Today, I want to share with you my guiding perspective on landscape lighting and how I’ve applied that in the Knoxville area.
Math and Art in Landscape Lighting
Landscape lighting design is one of the areas of landscape architecture I enjoy most. It speaks to two sides of me — math nerd and starving artist.
The math part is straightforward and there’s a right answer. A landscape lighting designer should understand the voltage and wattage of a system. Those are essential to designing and building the system correctly. There are also various other complexities to consider such as voltage drop, size of the system and others.
The artistic part of designing landscape lighting is what’s the most fun for me. There’s no one right answer, but there are a lot of wrong ones. In a landscape design, I use light in many ways, depending on the home, surrounding plants, and hard elements such as patios, driveways, walkways and others. I also take into account my client’s artistic tastes.
Less Is More
Overall, I like to have enough lighting in a landscape design to add drama to the night scene without blasting the space with artificial light like what you’d see in a parking lot.
Less is certainly more when it comes to landscape lighting. While the biggest project I’ve designed had nearly 150 fixtures to light the landscaping around a lakeside restaurant (pictured below), my average landscape lighting design in Knoxville for a residential client would include 12-15 fixtures.
I focus my efforts on just a few aspects of the landscaping — unique architecture, interesting plants, or functional spaces like walkways and steps — to add light without doing too much.
Focusing on the Unique
Depending on the home’s architecture and materials, up lighting and wall-washing areas with big swaths of light can have a fun effect. These techniques add interest when the home is made of a high-texture material such as stone or logs.
When a plant has a unique characteristic, such as a weird texture, brilliant color or odd shape, its fun to use landscape lighting to highlight that as well. Coralbark Maple is a great example of this with its bright red branches in winter. Adding light makes the color stand out even more.
I also love using backlighting to create drama. When a plant is backlit, you see only the silhouette of the plant. This can be an especially awesome effect for plants with squirrely character such as Hinoki Cypress, Contorted Filbert or others.
Choice of Fixture
Although there are seemingly countless types of landscape lighting fixtures to choose from, I tend to stick to a few fixture types and concentrate more on the light that they produce rather than the look of the fixture. The exception to that is fixtures such as path lights or wall-mounted lights that will be in view of those using a space.
For help taking your outdoor living space or outdoor kitchen to the next level with landscape lighting, call me at 865-765-5550 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.