Landscape & Lighting


Adding lights to your landscape allows you to increase the number of hours per day when you can see your property. Making the right choices in light styles and patterns can complement both the style of your home as well as the style of your landscape. Consumers have many lighting options and with them many ways to improve their landscapes.


Homeowners add lights along footpaths to increase safety. Lights reduce the chance that residents and guests will trip while walking after sundown. Homeowners add lights to accent particular plants or trees. Homeowners stake small lights in the ground or hang them from tree limbs and point them toward a prized plant so it can be seen either from indoors or while walking the grounds. Homeowners add lights for decoration. Small whimsical lights add art to the garden. Tiki torches and candles add firelight.


Batteries, solar power and electricity power landscape lights. Landscape lights use disposable and rechargeable batteries. Homeowners also can choose solar lights. Typically, these lights have a solar panel on the top of each fixture. The panels absorb the sunlight, and rechargeable batteries store the power. After dark, light sensors trigger the batteries to release the energy and power a light bulb. In some instances, manufacturers use an electrical wire to connect a set of lights to one solar panel. Low-voltage electric lights connect light fixtures to the household current. A few watts power the lights. For additional convenience, connect the lights to an indoor power switch.


A successful light system begins with a good plan. Homeowners review their wants and needs for lighting to develop a plan. Start with a realistic budget. Sketch on paper where on your property you would like additional light. Indicate what type of light-footlights, spotlights or ambient light--you want. Decide how you want to power your lights. Take into account any obstacles to your layout, including whether overhanging tree branches will prevent your solar lights from absorbing sunlight. Decide if you will hire an electrician to install your electrical lights. Consider placing lights at various heights, including staked down 6 inches above the ground, on 40-inch-tall tables or deck railings, and on 6-foot-tall posts. The effect is aesthetically pleasing, and your eyes will have to make fewer adjustments between dark and light spots.


Homeowners spend a few dollars to several thousand dollars to add landscape lights to their property. The cost includes the fixtures, installation and operation. For solar lights, the difference in cost is for the quality of the fixture itself. The majority of solar lights include rechargeable batteries in the price. Most do-it-yourself homeowners will be able to install the lights without hiring a professional because they only need to plug the lights into an outdoor outlet. The price for low-voltage lighting varies by fixture as well as installation costs. Silver fixtures cost more than plastic fixtures. Do-it-yourselfers who do not have outdoor outlets or who want to add a special feature such as a timer or control switches in the house, should consult an electrician. The cost of the electricity varies by utility company and the amount of electricity the lights consume.


Landscape lighting helps you see your landscape but carries with it the chance that the lights will interfere with your or your neighbor's ability to appreciate the night sky. Solar lights are only effective if they receive several hours of full sunlight each day. The specific amount of sunlight varies with each fixture. Consult the manufacturers' specifications for the exact amount. In general, place your lights where they will receive eight hours of full sunlight. To install most electrical lights, you will need to dig trenches between lights and to connect them to a power source. Some lights attract moths and mosquitoes to your yard. Homeowners who leave bright lights on throughout the night risk interfering with the growth cycles of some plants, including cocklebur and duckweed, that require some hours of darkness to develop.

Keywords: landscape lighting, solar landscape lighting, low voltage lighting

About this Author

Lee Roberts has written professionally in different capacities throughout her career. She has written for not-for-profit and commercial entities since she received her B.A in sociology from the University of Michigan in 1986. She has been published on She is currently writing an extensive work of fiction.