Adding lighting to a garden or landscape design adds many different features, including the ability to traverse the landscape at night and a dramatic effect to plants and overall landscaping. When properly installed, these two features, and others, can be enjoyed for a long time. Low voltage lighting can be installed by most do-it-yourselfers for a fraction of the cost of a landscape contractor.
Determine the number and type of low voltage lights desired. This is mostly personal preference. A common suggestion of designers is to light the path at a minimum. However, lights could also be used to highlight plants or architectural features, or to provide added security in a darkened area.
Lay out the lights in the locations where they will be installed. This will give you a better idea of how the final lighting design will look. Additionally, if the are placed in areas where they are less visible, this can be worked out at this phase.
Determine the location for the transformer. Some transformers come with photovoltaic eyes to automatically turn the lights on when the sun goes down, and off when the sun rises. Some use timers to turn the lights on and off. Either way, the transformer needs to mounted within cord reach of an approved 120 volt grounded outlet. They can be mounted indoors or outdoors.
Mount the transformer in the selected location. Each transformer will have different mounting instructions, be sure to check the manual for the correct mounting procedures. Do not plug the transformer in yet.
Run the low voltage lighting cable from the transformer location to all of the fixtures. This may require more than one roll of wire, depending on the number of fixtures. Additional rolls of wire will require special connections. These connections can be purchased at the same location as the fixtures, wire and transformer.
Attach the low voltage wire to the transformer. Each transformer may have different connection requirements and procedures, make sure to check the owners manual for the proper procedure for the transformer used.
Attach each fixture to the low voltage wire. Different fixtures attach different ways to the wire. Make sure to check the manual for the proper connection procedures. As each fixture is attached to the cable, install the fixture in its final position in the ground.
Plug in the transformer and turn on the lights at the transformer after all of the fixtures are installed.. This will allow for any changes to the system before the wire is buried. If the transformer has a photo eye to turn the lights on, place a piece of black tape over the eye to turn the lights on. If everything is working,, turn the lights off and unplug the transformer.
Bury the low voltage cable. Most cable can be buried under landscape mulch or stone. If the wire has to be buried in grass or deeper than 3 inches, use the shovel to create a trench on the ground to bury the cable. The easiest way to bury the cable is push the shovel into the ground and wiggle it back and forth to open the cut. Repeat this along the line to be buried. Push the wire into the trench and press the ground back in place with your foot.
Plug the transformer in. Set the timer if one is included in the system.