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Light the Way

Posted on 07 April 2011

Landscape Lighting

Illuminate your landscape with solar or low-voltage lighting and you will expand the use of your entire home. Add safety, efficiency and beauty to your home or landscape with simple lights that can be set on a timer or solar activated. Solar lights add aesthetic beauty to your home while being environmentally friendly at the same time. Lower operating costs and flexible installation are just a few of the unique benefits of using solar landscape lighting.

There are in-ground light accents that work nice for illuminating a garden or low surface areas. Not to mention, you can go with the lamppost, hanging lantern or spot light styles. There are a plethora of styles, sizes and design options all designed to illuminate the way to your sidewalk, driveway or garden.

Installation of landscape lighting is one of the easiest DIY (Do It Yourself) projects. Literally, if I can do it, so can you. I am not mechanically inclined in the least, but I was able to install landscape lighting within a mere few steps after answering a few important questions that led me in the following DIY direction:

  1. Plan where you want the lights. Draw up current landscape including: garage, driveway, entryway, sidewalks, trees, scrubs, current walk path, etc.
  2. Next, check out yard and walkways with a flashlight at night. This is extremely fun and useful. Note light angles and spotlight vs. flood lighting. Remember trees and pathways to give purpose and direction to the lighting.
  3. Decide on low-voltage or solar. Solar require no electricity as they run of the solar power of the sun. Low-voltage landscape lights are brighter but require power. If you are not comfortable working with electricity, call a landscape maintenance person for installation.
  4. Use a lighting kit including cables and all controls needed for installation. I found great kits at Lowes or Home Depot, for example.
  5. Remember safety. Call 811 to determine and locate where cable, electric and gas are located in your yard BEFORE you dig.
  6. Calcualte voltage of total lights being installed. It should equal 70 – 100% of the power pack rating. Locate the GFCI outlet on the outside of your house.
  7. Mount power pack outside the garage and preferably on the side of the home.
  8. Assemble the lights and lay along the path or area you intend to install.
  9. Dig a 3-inch trench for the cable and a small slit for each fixture to fit.
  10. Each fixture will be connected to the cable by a connector. Connect the light cable to the brass part with copper wire then the wire guide to the bottom connector cap. Tighten the neuro connector until the cable is completely seeded. Follow instructions that come with your kit.
  11. Push each fixture part way into the ground and work the cable along the trench.
  12. Connect the cable to the power pack. Again, follow the manufactures instructions.
  13. Plug power pack in the outdoor GFCI protected outlet. Set the power pack to “ON”. Check connections to each light fixture and note that each light illuminates. Finish pushing each fixture into the ground and close up the trench for the cable. You want to make sure no one will trip on the cable or that no one can mow over the cable line. Aesthetically, it is much more pleasing to hide all the landscape lighting’s cables.
  14. Set the controls on the power pack to go “on and off” automatically to the desired time. You may have to adjust the timing and pitch of the light’s focus. Make sure they are not bothering your neighbors.
  15. Then, enjoy the dramatic, warm, and intimate look you created for your outdoor space or landscaping.

There are many options available to illuminate the way to a beautiful and safe pathway around your landscape. Why not enjoy the landscape you created as much during the night as you can during the day by installing landscape lighting?

Written by: Janine Buchal, April 2011

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