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Landscape Lighting Welcomes You Home
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The one thing most people hate about this time of the year is that it's dark when they get home from work. However, lights in the flower beds can be a welcome sight as they pull into their driveways every evening.
After mulch, lighting is the perfect finishing touch to landscaping. Lighting can really make a dramatic impact in the landscape, especially when featuring the old oak, water pond or flower garden.
Lighting accents what we deem to be the most important features in the landscape. On the other hand, we can keep in the dark those things we wish weren't there or that happen to be less attractive.
When we use lighting to accent special features, we don't want to light it up like Dodger Stadium. Lighting should merely call attention to the object.
In addition to being a welcome home beacon, lights also serve a safety and security purpose for visitors and the people who live there. They give definition to the sidewalk and steps so people won't stumble.
By illuminating your landscape, you deter prowlers and other undesirable visitors. Automatic time clocks allow you to set the lighting to come on anytime you want it, even when you are away.
If daylight savings time does not do enough for your outdoor activities, lighting can. You would never dream what the light by the basketball goal does at our home. It lets you virtually play until the neighbors get annoyed.
Those few days that are warm this time of the year can really be lengthened to allow for playing or for cookouts. In the summertime when it is hotter than you know where, lighting lets you be outside when it is cooler.
I guess the thing I like most about landscape lighting is that it creates different moods. Lighting around the pool or patio can create that tropical feeling of being at the Hyatt at Waikiki.
If you are using one of the do-it-yourself kits, by all means follow the directions explicitly. You will have done little good at lighting an area if you also give someone a shock in wet weather.
Put the electrical line in PVC pipe underneath the ground. You will be surprised what rodents find delectable.
Experiment with the lights and their intensities before you go permanent. If you have large trees in the back or at the side of the house, you can create some very interesting effects.
Try to make your system look natural. I'm sure that many low-flying planes look down on landscapes that look like miniature versions of the Atlanta airport. In other words, try to avoid straight lines but use hidden coves or pockets.
I have used the do-it-yourself kits and have had great luck. Indulging in the luxury of having professionals do the job is really nice, too. I have used the solar-powered lights and gotten much better performance than I had expected, so let your pocketbook dictate your lighting project. The new home feeling will surprise you.