Ultimate Guide to Holiday Landscape Illumination

December 17, 2018
December 17, 2018 satlandscape

Ultimate Guide to Holiday Landscape Illumination

The holidays are upon us and nothing screams “Tis the Season” like an elaborate light display covering your house and yard. Whether you’re looking to have the brightest house on the block or you’re just putting up a few lights, this is the way to do it.

The key to illuminating your landscape like a pro is to make a plan. Start by envisioning your design. Try choosing a focal point to concentrate your lighting scheme around. You can hang lights anywhere—rooflines, eaves, bushes, trees, pillars, railings, windows, doors, pathways, window boxes, and more.

If you have some lights already, bring these out and test them to see what works and what you need to replace. Be wary of mixing new and older lights as color and distance between bulbs can vary by brand and throw off the continuity of your design.

Next, measure your windows, doors, roof eaves, tree branches, and anywhere else you plan on hanging lights. For trees, 100 to 200 lights per 1.5 feet of tree branch will result in a medium to heavy lighting design. Dense trees, such as evergreens, require more lights or larger lights to create a similar impact.

Don’t forget to mark where your outlets are compared to your intended lighting zone. You may need battery-operated lights or additional extension cords to make your design work. Also, note the different surfaces you’ll need hangers for—wood door jams, plastic gutters, brick exterior, etc. Knowing what you need ahead of time can streamline the landscape lighting process.

Now, you’re ready to purchase your lights and accessories. Pay attention to whether the lights were designed for indoor or outdoor use. Using them incorrectly will create a fire hazard or result in damage and light failure. LED lights are initially a bit more expensive than conventional lights, but they burn cooler, use less electricity, and last much longer, making them worth the investment. Use of an automatic timer will also help conserve energy and lower your electricity bill.

Mixing various styles of lights can create a dramatic impact. Large bulbs (C5, C7, and C9) give a lot of light and a slightly retro feel. Animated lights have pre-set or customizable color-changing patterns to add visual interest to your design. Net lights come pre-assembled and are perfect for lining roofs or tossing over bushes for full coverage. Icicle lights are a classic holiday shape and can create an eye-catching feature. Rope lights are beneficial for lining walkways, windows, and doors or creating your own shapes. Projection spotlights are becoming increasingly popular with their ease of installation.

No matter what you choose to use, setting up your wintery wonderland can be a tricky business and should only be attempted during daylight hours and good weather. Ice, snow, and cold temperatures can make climbing ladders dangerous. You should never hang lights or use a ladder alone. Work slowly and purposefully and don’t get impatient or overreach.

It’s easy to create eye-catching illuminations in your landscape when you make a plan, buy the right lights, and spend a day putting it all together.