Snow shoveling, bitter cold mornings, and less than ideal driving conditions…to say that the winter can present a multitude of physical challenges for those of us who live in Central Ohio would be quite an understatement! During these shortest days of the year we struggle through everything Mother Nature can throw at us only to be rewarded at the end of the day with darkness…at 5 o’clock! The purists will tell you that winter begins on December 21st, in my book though, winter begins on the first Sunday of November at 2am; the end of daylight savings time. Suddenly we go from adjusting to a gradual shortening of the daylight hours to driving home from work in the pitch black of night. It is enough to make you wonder if you accidentally stayed at the office until 10pm because your clock battery died!
Fortunately for all of us, the landscape industry has a solution that can lift our spirits as we pull into the driveway of a beautifully illuminated house. No, I am not talking about a year long Clark Griswold light display; I am talking about low-voltage lighting. Low-voltage lighting is one of the most overlooked and underutilized tools for bringing curb appeal to your home and the all important WOW factor to your landscape. A simple low-voltage lighting system can accent important architectural features of your home and highlight your plantings. Your landscape investment no longer needs to be invisible for half of the day, it can bring you value 24/7. The light and shadow combinations bring added beauty during a time of day when your landscape might otherwise be unnoticed. Additionally, the wide array of fixture styles that are available means that you are sure to find one that perfectly compliments your existing home.
Obviously the aesthetic factor is a major benefit of installing low-voltage lighting, but there are many other reasons to consider as well. Lighting can improve the safety and security of your home. Potential criminals are much less likely to attempt to hide in a well lit landscape than a dark one. Path lights can highlight changes of direction along your front walkway so that visitors can safely navigate their way from the driveway to your front door. A well designed lighting plan will also make your home appear warmer and more inviting to your guests than a home with a solitary front porch light.
Although I began by talking about the winter benefits of outdoor lighting, low-voltage systems can also be a positive addition in the summertime by extending the time you can stay outdoors. Lighting on your patio and in the landscape can help you to continue enjoying your great outdoors long after the sun has set. Another great feature of low-voltage lighting is just how easy it can be. A simple transformer box (which will plug into any standard outlet), light fixtures, wire, and a creative mind are all you need to get started. You can add analog or digital timers to your system so that the lights will automatically turn on and off at a time set by you. A photocell can make things even easier by turning your lights on at dusk and off again at dawn. Low-voltage lighting can even be green! Many of the newest systems operate with LED lights that use much less electricity and save you the hassle of changing bulbs for years.
Low-voltage lighting is one of the fastest growing areas in the landscape industry and with so many great benefits it is easy to see why! So as you drive home tonight, in the dark, take a look at some of the homes along your way that already have landscape lighting. Imagine how great your home could look too. After all, no one likes coming home to a dark house! – by Pete Marsh, Lead Designer Buck & Sons Landscape, M.S. Landscape Architecture.