Poor planning due to inexperience and lack of professional consultation—and the varied ramifications that follow—are very real problems when it comes to landscape lighting. Two of the biggest pitfalls we come across as a result of bad planning are: designing around the wrong landscape lighting elements and under budgeting. Let’s take a closer look at these two common mistakes.
#1: Designing for the Fixtures Rather than the Objective
One mistake we’ve come across in the past is focusing on a particular fixture rather than the lighting objective and the lighting effect needed to achieve it. Falling in love with a fixture after some online shopping or shelf scanning at a big box store is a dangerous road to go down, especially if a homeowner doesn’t have any knowledge about the fixture’s quality or functionality such as its lumen output or beam angle range. It all comes down to poor planning and inexperience. Without knowing this, a homeowner could limit him or herself to what effects can be performed by the fixture, and, if it’s not the right light level or beam spread, more fixtures may be needed to make up for its inadequacy which will either muck up the design aesthetic and run up your budget. Choosing which fixtures should be used should be selected after the lighting effects have been determined. Identifying what what you want to illuminate and what effects are appropriate to light it always come first. The next logical step is to research which fixture will best achieve this objective. Remember, design for the objective and the effect, not the fixture.
#2: Under Budgeting
One of the biggest problems we run into is budgeting. Either homeowners forget to include landscape lighting in their budget or they underestimate the cost of quality outdoor lighting design and installation. Our goal is to stress the importance of this design element. Homeowners spend a great deal of money on landscaping and hardscaping, only to have it admired and used during daylight hours if landscape lighting isn’t a part of their initial design. Adding quality landscape lighting makes their investment truly worthwhile. As a result, we try to educate homeowners and contractors whenever possible about realistic budgets. We tell them to set aside between 10 to 20 percent of the landscaping budget for outdoor lighting. Homeowners may raise an eyebrow at this number, but they should be reminded that a lot goes into superior landscape lighting—design, installation, and quality products that are engineered for energy efficiency, task performance, lifetime durability, and an aesthetic that offers timeless beauty and class. When you cut corners, one or more of these characteristics will be sacrificed.
Learn from Others’ Mistakes
In both scenarios discussed above, homeowners end up with cheap, inadequate outdoor light fixtures that neither perform the needed task nor stand up to the test of time or environmental elements or no landscape lighting at all. These pitfalls could have easily been avoided with better planning and research. Easier said than done, right? We get it. We understand that all the factors that go into landscape lighting is foreign to many people and often lead to failed investments. Therefore, while we are huge fans of the DIY movement, there are just some things that are best left to the professionals. While 10 to 20 percent of one’s landscape lighting budget may have not been initially on a homeowner’s radar, outdoor lighting plays a huge roll in the enjoyment and beauty of landscaping. If landscape lighting doesn’t exist or it’s done improperly, homeowners lose out on their big investment to beautify their property as well as the additional opportunity to keep it safe and secure.\ At the end of the day, we recommend meticulous preparation, planning, research, and enlisting the help of a professional to make sure your landscape investment reaches its fullest potential, year after year, season after season.