Summertime. The time of year kids dream about all year long when they can play outside—both day AND night—to their heart’s content. Summertime is also about making family memories to last a lifetime, and with the right backyard set up, including an amazing landscape lighting design, you can create a backyard your kids can enjoy even after the sun sets.
To help you with your lighting, we’re breaking down some of the most loved and used spaces in the backyard so that you can create a landscape lighting plan that is sure to make your backyard functional but also inviting and as safe as possible for your kids.
Pool Lighting: Focus on Safety Without Sacrificing Design
If you have a pool, it’s likely that your kids and neighbors will want to come for a dip or two after hours. Setting up in-ground lights is a great way to light the pool without feeling like you’re in a football stadium. Another option is to focus on lighting zones and dimmers for flexible lighting in your pool area. Perhaps you want the ability to have brighter lights around and in the pool so you can easily see the kids when they’re swimming but then enjoy softer lighting when you want to enjoy some no-kids pool time. When planning the placement of pool lights—both in the pool and in the pool area (decks, water features, and walls), make sure any surrounding objects won’t cast any shadows, blocking your ability to see clearly, even on the darkest nights, and use dimmers to get those different lighting effects.
Play Areas: Use Moon Lighting to Create Visibility and Mood
While kids’ play areas are important in the summer, as the school year kicks into high gear, homework is on the table, and the sun is setting earlier, it’s even more important to light these areas, making it a top priority for many homeowners. Using tree-mounted lighting can create an illusion of moonlight, and if you don’t have trees, you can create the same effect by mounting lights in the soffits of your home.
Using this technique will allow you to create an inviting space for your kids with their safety as your priority because you can see them. The lights will be bright enough so you can keep an eye on the kids no matter what they’re doing but not too bright to be irritating to both young and older eyes.
Lounge Areas: Use Lighting Zones and Dimmers for Flexible Lighting
Maybe you want the option to change the amount of lighting in lounging and dining areas depending on your activities. When you’re enjoying a family dinner or game night where brighter lights are needed, or if you ever want a softer atmosphere, dimmers can take care of both. In general, when developing your backyard lighting plan, take into account the different uses for each area and what moods you’ll want to create—always keeping safety in mind. Maybe you want some areas of your backyard to always be lighter and other areas to be flexible lighting-wise through the use of dimmers. Assigning a lighting zone to each area of your backyard gives you the option to illuminate only certain areas of your backyard instead of having to light the entire space every time. Here are some ideas for different zones and dimming effects:
Pathways: Focus on Placement for Safety and Visibility
While all that beautiful foliage is eye-catching in the sunlight, at night, if not properly illuminated, it can be a safety hazard for playful kids. Include enough lighting so that when the kids are running around they’ll be able to see any potential hazards and stay safe. And don’t forget to light pathways so they can find their way around the yard safely. Placement is also important for pathways and throughout your landscaping. In these areas, place pathway lights where they won’t cause tripping hazards or will be easily broken—both of which can be safety hazards for kids and put a dent in your pocketbook.
Note: No matter which area of your backyard you’re illuminating, lighting placement is critical. When lights are placed too high (as is common), shadows can be created, which can cause safety issues, limiting your ability to keep an eye on the kids and their ability to navigate your backyard safely. This is especially important in the most popular kid areas: the pool and play areas. Mounting lights on fences, throughout play structures, in walls, in crucial areas in your pool (on the steps, where the deep end begins, etc.) and in decks, and even incorporating freestanding lights can make those shadows disappear, which is a bonus for both kids and adults.
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