Landscape Lighting is a profession that hosts a wide variety of individuals – with a wide range of talents. This fact complicates the selection of a landscape lighting designer. How does a homeowner know who’s good, who’s bad, and who’s truly exceptional? Like all complicated decisions, the best answers come from knowledge – preferably knowledge based on evidence.
With Steve Middleton (owner of Treasure Coast Landscape Lighting in Hobe Sound, FL), the evidence of his exceptional work can be seen every night along the sleepy roads of Florida’s Treasure Coast. Because of Steve, countless homes shine as though the walls themselves are glowing; tropical vegetation emerges from the darkness as though the moon itself had been captured and put to the task. But the most compelling evidence is found on the faces of Steve’s customers – expressions that range from gratitude, to delight, to serenity, to pride. Clearly, the evidence of Steve Middleton’s skill is overwhelming.
What sets Treasure Coast Landscape Lighting above their many competitors in the region? The reasons are set out in the company’s website (Treasure Coast Landscape Lighting). Primary among them, is Steve’s absolute expertise in tropical vegetation and its illumination. He is widely recognized as the nations leading expert on the subject, and was featured in an article on the topic (Palm Lighting Particulars) in Landscape Contractor National.
Some may wonder, “What’s there to know; you put a light in the ground and shine it onto a tree?” The truth is much more complex and involves three main factors:
- Understanding how lighting fixtures coexist with plant systems
- Understanding how illumination affects the visual appearance of various types of plant materials
- Understanding how lighting fixtures are affected by environmental factors
The first point is not even considered by the great majority of lighting installers. Tropical vegetation (especially palm trees) have the fastest and most aggressive root systems of any plant type in the world. A lighting fixture staked in the ground at the base of a palm tree will, in a few months, become completely entrapped by the roots. This will not only immobilize the lighting fixture (note: fixture locations need to be adjusted as the tree grows), the roots may also grab the wire and pull it away from the light socket. Many Floridian properties are littered with lighting fixtures that have been destroyed in this way.
Years ago, Steve recognized this problem and devised ways to insert lighting fixtures and their wires so roots would not entangle them. He also learned how the various types of palms differ in their root growth, and applies specific techniques appropriate to each specific tree.
To appreciate the second point, one needs to understand the dynamic nature of light. Depending on the angle of illumination, its brightness, its beam spread, determines how a surface appears. As children, we all shone flshlights from under our chins to create a monstrous appearance. In the same way, illuminated trees and structures can look garish or charming, scary or welcoming, unsightly or beautiful – it all depends on the hard-earned talent of a lighting designer like Steve Middleton.
Finally, many underestimate the extremely aggressive nature of the Florida environment, and its affect on outdoor lighting fixtures. Only the most corrosion-resistant materials can withstand coastal regions. That’s why Steve Middleton primarily uses CAST Lighting fixtures (composed of solid bronze), CAST No-Ox Marine-Grade Landscape Lighting Wire (tin-coated), and CAST stainless steel low voltage transformers.
Steve Middleton, of Treasure Coast Landscape Lighting, can be contacted at (561) 222-1077 or by email.