With less daylight this time of year, landscape lighting is the perfect way to continue enjoying this gorgeous fall weather, foliage, and your outdoor living space. Here are some helpful autumn landscape lighting tips to keep your property beautiful, safe, and ready for camp fires, s’more roastin’ and mulled wine sippin’.
- Keep wires underground: Buried lighting wires may have become unearthed over the summer months. Before the leaves really start to fall, scan your property for exposed wires. This ensures you are up to code, which requires wire to be buried a minimum of 6 inches deep. This also ensures overall safety. Exposed wire can be a tripping hazard, and wild animals or pets could chew on it. In either scenario, not only are you threatening people and animals with electrical dangers, you risk shorting out your landscape lighting system.
- Maximize leaf peepin’ season: While still illuminating peak foliage, no real adjustments need to be made. Instead, what we do recommend is taking out that rake to keep your lighting fixtures free of leaves so they can do their job. It’s one small thing that can make a huge difference in keeping your house safe, beautiful, and ready to go for fall nighttime activities!
- Dim it down: When the leaves fall, your landscape lighting design needs to be adjusted just a smidge; highlighting the bare branches can be dramatic and severe. It’s great if you’re going for a haunted house effect for Halloween, but if the holiday’s over, consider adjusting the brightness of your lights and adding frosted lenses. Alternatively, you could disconnect or remove some of your fixtures or bulbs to soften this unintentional harsh effect. Finally, you could adjust your uplighting. Most of the time, you can simply lower the angle of the light so it illuminates the trunk of the tree rather than highlighting the grim, bare branches.
- Create a guided path: The autumn leaves are absolutely stunning, but they can be slippery when wet. Consider adding path lighting to your autumn landscape lighting to help prevent any unwanted “fall” activities.
- Kick it up a notch: Upgrade your light fixtures to the best quality available—switch to cast bronze. Cast bronze fixtures are beautiful and ultra durable—especially when considering those Northeast winter months. Bronze is an alloy that contains 88 percent copper, 6 percent tin, 2 percent zinc, and 3 percent lead. Adding tin to copper makes this metal stronger and impervious to corrosion, perfect for the outdoor environment. Once installed outdoors, the metallic bronze darkens to an old-penny brown, then to a greenish blue patina that elegantly complements the natural beauty of your property. While you can switch to bronze fixtures at any time, if you’d like that gorgeous patina for next summer, it’s best to install them in the fall as the aging process takes several months. The additional presence of rain, snow, condensation on the fixtures will help expedite this and set you up perfectly for the upcoming summer.
- Make everything shine: If you’re someone who is already using bronze and wants to keep that shiny finish and prevent the patina process, there are two methods to follow. One is to clean the metal before installation and apply an outdoor-rate polyurethane matte-finish clear coating. The other is to apply WD-40™ regularly with a rag about every three months.
- Make chilly nights warmer: Add uplighting and downlighting to your landscape lighting design to create a warm environment perfect for spiked cider and eggnog. Adding these new lighting elements can help truly transform an outdoor entertaining space. But be forewarned: You might need to stock up on extra wool blankets and firewood because guests will definitely want to spend more time in your backyard!
- Perform annual transformer and system maintenance: Make it a part of your autumn landscape lighting upkeep routine. Remember to tighten all screws on both sides of your transformer’s terminal blocks; visually inspect any exposed wire for damage; clean any accumulated debris from inside cabinet housing; check the time clock programming and replace the battery; clean the photocell and prune any plant material obstructing the light fixtures; and adjust fixtures that might have been hit or moved.
- Fall back into a new timer schedule: It’s that time of year again when you’ll need to adjust your outdoor lighting timer. Most timers are set to automatically turn your landscape lighting on at dusk and turn off after a certain number of hours. With the clocks falling back soon, remember to account for the shorter days and update your lighting schedule so that guests (or even family members) don’t come home to a dark house. Also set the schedule to accommodate for leaving for work or the school bus in the dark.
From routine maintenance checks to upgrading your light fixtures and adjusting your landscape lighting design, There are so many things you can do during the fall season to make your property safe and festive. Some are “must-do” annual maintenance checks, some are recommended property care and lighting design recommendations, and others are suggested upgrades and add-ons. No matter your budget, we’ve listed some of the top to-dos this fall to keep your home safe, sound, and stunning. Happy Fall!