What You Need to Know About Landscape Lighting in B.C. Skip to main content
Book your 2024 project now. Schedule a Consultation
The Vandenberg Blog

What You Need to Know About Landscape Lighting in B.C.

Choose the right fixtures and avoid these common mistakes

If you’re like most people, the bulk of your backyard entertaining occurs in the evening, with dinner on the patio, drinks on the deck and soaking in the hot tub under a moonlit sky. 

Your yard is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a fun-filled summer evening with family and friends. But just when the party gets started, darkness settles in… forcing you (reluctantly) to take the party inside or send everyone home.

If this scenario sounds familiar and you’d like to spend more time outside enjoying your yard, it may be time to invest in some landscape lighting. But with so many different fixtures available, it can be difficult to know which ones to choose. In this post, we’ll help you explore your options and provide a few tips on how to avoid common lighting mistakes. Let’s get started!

Your glossary of common outdoor lighting fixtures

Landscape lighting serves many purposes. Some fixtures are functional and used for practical reasons, such as safety and security, while others provide an ambiance that brings your property to life. Some lights even do a bit of both!

  • Spotlights — Also known as “bullets”, spotlights are used to highlight trees and other garden plants, special architectural features, sculptures and any other areas you want to draw attention to. They are very versatile fixtures, supporting a variety of bulbs, beam widths and wattages.

Bullet lights can be installed at the top of buildings or in trees so they cast their beams downward (downlighting) or placed in the ground or on a low wall, illuminating featured objects from below (uplighting). Most bullet lights cast a narrow beam of light that doesn’t exceed 45 degrees, making it easy to focus the light on a specific feature.

  • Undercap lights — These lights are literally installed under the “caps” of hardscape features and are meant to illuminate the area below a wall, bench or other outdoor structure. Undercap lighting provides safety and bathes everything in a delightful glow. You’ll often see undercap lighting under steps and stairs to help prevent trips and falls after dark.
  • Garden lights — Garden lights (or post lights) look like the solar lights you get from a big box store, but they are connected with a low-voltage wire and will illuminate any part of your garden… even areas in deep shade. They can be placed throughout the garden to highlight your favourite plants, or used to light paths and walkways.
  • Inground “pot” lights — These lights are used to illuminate a path or patio area, but instead of being supported by a post, they are installed flush with the ground. Pot lights add an air of sophistication and look great in a modern landscape. They can also be tucked inside a pergola or other outdoor structure to provide light without being obtrusive.
  • Bistro lights — Also called string lights, bistro lights add ambiance to any outdoor space and are often found at outdoor cafes and restaurants. They can be hung along a fence, wrapped around a tree, or strung across a patio or pergola and are a great way to enjoy that same vibe in your own backyard.
  • Bollard lights —  These are post lights that don’t have a shade over them, so light is dispersed from every direction. They’re typically used when strong light is needed to light a pathway.

Avoid these common lighting mistakes

Outdoor lighting can enhance the beauty and functionality of your outdoor living space, but there are some common mistakes that you should avoid when installing an outdoor lighting system. 

  • Over-lighting — Adding too many lights can be a nuisance to your neighbors, cause light pollution and make your home look garish. When planning your outdoor lighting, the Goldilocks approach is best… use the right amount to highlight your home's best features and provide the safety and security you need without overdoing it.
  • Under-lighting — Not having enough lights can be a safety hazard. It's important to ensure all paths, steps and entrances are well-lit to prevent accidents and deter intruders.
  • Poorly placed fixtures — Placing fixtures in the wrong location can create unwanted shadows, glare, and other lighting issues. Consider having a designer determine the placement of your fixtures to get the effect you want while avoiding unwanted side effects.
  • Focusing on aesthetics — It's important to consider the functional aspects of lighting, such as safety and security. Don't focus solely on the aesthetics of your lighting and neglect the practical aspects.
  • Using sub-standard finishes — Most lighting systems you’ll find at the big box stores are made with powder-coated aluminum, which is fine if longevity isn’t a factor. If you’re looking for something that will last, you’ll need to find fixtures made from copper or brass. In addition to being strong and durable, these metals age with gorgeous colour and patina, making them a perfect choice for your lighting fixtures.
  • Trying to DIY — Unless you’re a licensed electrician, it’s best to leave the design and installation of your landscape lighting system to the professionals. 
  • Neglecting maintenance — Neglecting maintenance can lead to issues such as burned-out bulbs, broken fixtures, and other problems that can compromise the safety and functionality of your lighting system.

Landscape lighting makes it possible for you to spend more time outdoors, and lets you decide when the party ends. 

By choosing the right types of lighting and avoiding these common mistakes, you can create a lighting system that will provide years of enjoyment while enhancing the beauty, safety and value of your property.

If you’d like to know more about landscape lighting or are ready to light up your night, contact us to schedule an appointment. We can discuss all the options available, without obligation.

Written by  Matt Vandenberg