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Outdoor Lighting for Summer

As summer keeps giving us little tastes of what is to come, we can’t seem to stem the anticipation of outdoor barbecues, hot summer nights outside and all the glory that is the warmest season of the year. So as we sit in eagerness, we might as well get a jump on the outdoor decorating that is sure to make our backyards, porches and outdoor rooms perfect summer venues. Outdoor lighting is going to be a key component to extend the beautiful summer days into the warm summer nights, even if the sun says out past 8 pm. Here are some tips to get your outdoor space up to par for nighttime entertaining.

Illumination. Make sure to light treacherous areas of your yard. Your guests will appreciate it. Hazards include changes in terrain, abrupt directional shifts, steps, curbs or inclines/declines. Also light pools or any water feature for safety purposes.  Trails or walkways can be lit with small “pathway” lights, placed close enough together so that the small pools of light overlap. Interesting focal points such as fountains, statues or particularly beautiful foliage should also be illuminated .

Mood Lighting. An outdoor space or yard used primarily for throwing big parties will require more and brighter lighting while a space for small scale gatherings may only require the dim light of a fire pit or a few well-placed solar lamp posts. For a brighter scene, consider using Christmas lights in shrubs, to line a fence or intertwined with an umbrella or patio posts; white twinkle lights will add elegance while colored ones will add life and vibrance.

Lighting techniques. A silhouette is created when a light is pointed directly at a yard feature from behind. Shadowing is the exact opposite: a light is aimed at the object from the front, casting shadows behind it. Cross lighting will employ different angles of multiple lights to create some softer shadows and some more dramatic ones; this technique will create depth in a backyard. Spotlighting should be used on large objects or seating areas; the light is placed in front of the focus point but at a considerable distance for full illumination.
Solar vs Electrical Lighting. At Backyard X-Scapes, we are obviously a proponent of the environment so we advise the use of solar lighting, though there are some things to consider. Solar lighting is generally more expensive initially, but is a one-time cost as it requires no electricity to fully function. Solar lights turn on and off with the sun, so you never have to worry about leaving them on all night; there is also an option to turn them off manually if they interfere with indoor lighting choices. There are no complicated electrical configurations to deal with and no risk for electrical dangers such as fire or electrocution.

Other options. Spread lighting is great for flower beds and lighting under window sills as it casts light upwards, illuminating colorful foliage without interfering with indoor lighting. Lights can be hidden in branches to cast light downwards, creating a dramatic flooded look. A walkway or patio lined with tiki torches will give a tropical feel by generating a mild warmth and a dim glow.

Once again, the most important part of outdoor lighting is to be mindful of potential safety hazards. Once danger is eliminated, you can start considering form, function and style. Happy evening entertaining!

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