Amp Up Your Home’s Curb Appeal Afterhours
Curb appeal during the day draws focus to a home’s façade and landscaping but at night the front yard typically disappears into darkness unless you nightscape. People tend to invest in making their homes look good in the light of day but often overlook night-time as another opportunity to show the home in a different light.
I recently talked with Landscape Lighting Designer Jerry McKay of McKay Landscape Lighting for some tips to nightscape and amp up a home’s curb appeal after hours. Jerry is owner and primary designer of McKay Lighting and a member of The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), the national landscape industry association. For those interested in hiring an expert, McKay Landscape Lighting designs and installs lighting schemes. For those DIYers, McKay suggests starting a nightscape plan by asking why and what you want to light. Is the nightscaping for safety and security, beautification or both? Walk the property and think of how you can make it safer by strategically lighting up dark corners and access points or how you can draw focus to certain features. With those answers in mind, here a five tips to NightScape for After Hours Curb Appeal.
Pick a Focal Point:
“Nightscaping can highlight architectural features or landscaping and unique trees. I suggest picking a focal point to start,” says McKay. Take inventory of your home’s façade and unique architectural features and decide which details to shine the light on. McKay suggests a few ideas such as uplighting columns to show off stone or embellished features or lighting a few trees.
Light Up Your Trees:
Lighting a tree at the far ends of the yard makes the property seem more expansive. Mckay suggests lighting a group of trees in odd numbers. Be strategic and conservative in which trees you pick to light. If you light all the trees in your line of sight, your yard could end up looking like a holiday light show. “For mood lighting, you can uplight or downlight the trees to create interesting shadows,” says McKay.
Backlight a tree instead to make it glow street side. “If you light the tree from the house side instead of the street side, the tree will glow without distracting from the façade,” says McKay.
Light Up Paths & Walkways:
Path lighting glows in the dark for safety and beauty. McKay suggests installing a few lights along a pathway and hide the source of light to soften the effect. Too many lights can make a walkway look like an airport runway. “You don’t want to notice the pathway but rather what the light is accentuating,” says McKay.
Light the Outside for Inside Enjoyment:
How your nightscaping looks from the inside is equally important as its outside vantage point. “Light for both curb appeal and your own enjoyment. On a deck, look to create illumination moments such as a sconce mounted on a post casting a glow on potted plants,” says McKay.
Light a few trees at the perimeter of your backyard to enjoy the full expanse of your property. “Trees can make friendly fences lit up at night. If you live close to your neighbor, light up a nearby tree to distract from your neighbor’s lit up windows. Remember, the eye goes to the closest source of light.”
My own advice: Have fun with lighting Let it put on a show for your entertainment.
I recently discovered BlissLights, a company that uses laser and holographic technology that makes light dance as twirling and sparkling pin-points of illumination on surfaces from walls and palm trees to pools.
Invest in Weather Proof Lighting Fixtures:
The number one criteria when shopping for outdoor light fixtures is to look for long-lasting materials such as copper, brass or a composite that doesn’t peel, chip or rust over time and waterproof connections. “A lot of the DIY kits for lighting systems come clamp connections but those usually fail over a short amount of time. Connections made of gel filled caps are longer lasting. We prefer to make waterproof connections using a brass tube covered in heat shrink.” McKay also advises tweaks to the lighting layout before you bury the lines.
“Landscape lighting is such a visual art form that you need to lay it out above ground and turn it on that first night to get the full effect. Play around with the configuration to get the lighting just right before you install it.”
As you build the electrical infrastructure, McKay advises doing the research. “There are formulas that help you decide the proper size wire to evenly distribute light. There are not a lot of codes for low voltage wiring but I suggest burying the wire about six inches deep so it’s above the sprinkler lines but deep enough not to be aerated,” says McKay.
For more outdoor landscape and lighting inspiration, check out www.loveyourlandscape.com I just discovered this site and it’s a wealth of practical information from pros in lawn, landscaping and outdoor lighting.
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