Cover Story: Shine a light

With fewer people moving into new homes or turning homes for profit and travel rates declining, the trend of expanding outdoor living spaces is increasing, including outdoor illumination. According to Cruz Perez, vice president of marketing for Vista Professional Lighting, well-placed path, spot and floodlights can have a phenomenal effect on a home’s beauty after the sun goes down.

“If there’s a dark void outside a window or glass sliding door, the utility of the property seems to end,” Perez explains. “Landscape lighting makes the outside portion of the property interesting and draws guests and neighbors out of the home.”

For landscapers who install lighting or are thinking about adding lighting services to their portfolio, it’s important to increase your customers’ awareness of the value lighting adds to their property, says Steve Parrott, media and marketing director, Cast Lighting. “I encourage landscapers to become familiar with the home’s interior lighting so they can help their customers make smart decisions,” he says. “You should always focus on the homeowner’s experience.”

Value enhancements for landscape lighting include the following:

  • Safety: “I may know if there is a rise or crack in concrete on my property, but my guests may not,” Perez explains. “Lighting makes these dangers visible to them and eliminates accidents.” Compared with typical 120-volt flood lighting, when you switch to low-voltage lighting you have more lights with lower illumination. This lights more square footage on the property and offers better visibility.
  • Security: Landscape lighting in the front and/or backyards makes homeowners feel more secure and less worried about potential intruders hiding in dark spots in the yard. “If you have two homes with no landscape lighting, and one home with outdoor lighting, the well-lit house is less likely to be burglarized,” Perez says.
  • Aesthetics: Many people don’t know good lighting technique, but they recognize it the moment they see it, Perez explains. Homes in a neighborhood could be similar in style, but landscape lighting can maximize the look of a home and make it stand out aesthetically.

    “A trend we are seeing in landscape lighting is the maturing of the industry,” Parrott says. “The last 10 to 15 years have been a fast growing phase.” He notes that a larger number of landscapers are entering the lighting aspect of landscaping and are getting a lot better at it. There is greater subtlety in designs, where in the past most lighting installations would look the same. Now, designers are experimenting with different ways to light architecture and plant material.

  • Usability: The trend for people to enhance their living spaces is growing exponentially each year, including the addition of decks, patios, putting greens and pool areas. While this trend is more prevalent among high-end homeowners, the extension of living space from inside to outside is shown through the continuation of interior lighting to the outdoors.
  • Value: Unless it’s a really bad lighting job, a house that’s well-lit always holds more curb appeal than an unlit home. “When people are interested in a particular home, they don’t just show up at noon on a Sunday,” Perez says. “They drive by that home at all times of the day and night. Nighttime lighting can sometimes make the difference between a sold home and one that remains on the market.”

A ‘green’ glow
As Americans spend more time entertaining in their backyards, they’re leaving their landscape lighting on for extended periods of time. To help with energy savings in an increasingly “green” environment, several lighting manufacturers are introducing LED/low-voltage lighting varieties.

Parrott says there is a trend toward LED lights, which will dominate the marketplace within a few years, because they give off directional light and are closer to the color of daylight. LEDs not only produce light more efficiently, but they have a tiny mirror that reflects light in one direction resulting in less wasted light. There has also been federal legislation regarding the elimination of incandescent bulbs, forcing consumers to purchase compact incandescent and LEDs.

In December 2007, Congress passed a massive energy bill including the banning of incandescent light bulbs by 2014. The phase-out of incandescent light will begin with the 100-watt bulb in 2012 and end in 2014 with the 40-watt. The bill states that all light bulbs must use 25 percent to 30 percent less incandescent light by 2014. By 2020, bulbs must be 70-percent more efficient than they are today. While compact incandescents and LEDs cost a little more, a recent U.S. News & World Report study found that homeowners could experience as much as a 12-percent energy savings on their annual bill, depending on their regional electricity costs.

“To help with energy savings, Kichler Lighting has introduced new LED accent lights, deck lights and step lights that use 75-percent less electricity than their incandescent counterparts,” says Jeff Dross, senior product manager, Kichler Lighting. “They also last in excess of 40,000 hours – four times longer than xenon or fluorescent.”

Regardless of whether you’re new to landscape lighting installation, or want to know more about energy-efficient lighting options, most industry sources urge landscapers to register and take part in a landscape lighting or LED/low-voltage course.

Landscape lighting courses
Cast Landscape Lighting seminars

Most seminars are one-day, hands-on training sessions.
Upcoming dates/locations: June 11, Jacksonville, Florida; June 25, Tampa, Florida
Cost/Info: Call Tammy Blackwood at (407) 383-1494 or e-mail [email protected].

Kichler Lighting’s beginning low-voltage training course
This one-day training seminar is open to all landscape lighting professionals and provides 6 credit hours from the American Lighting Association.
When: July 22
Where: Kichler’s World Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio
Cost: $59, includes breakfast, lunch and seminar materials
Info:, click on the training tab

Kichler’s low-voltage hands-on seminar
This two-day, hands-on seminar provides detailed instruction and 16 credit hours from the American Lighting Association.
When: June 24-25 or August 19-20
Where: Kichler’s World Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio
Cost: $299, includes all meals, airport transfers, transportation to and from hotel and additional items
Info:, click on training tab

Vista Professional Lighting seminars
These are one-day seminars conducted in partnership with John Deere Landscapes.
Upcoming dates/locations: June 4, Santa Clarita, California; June 17, Johnson City, Tennessee
Cost/Info: or

The Attachments Idea Book
Landscapers use a variety of attachments for doing everything from snow removal to jobsite cleanup, and regardless of how often they are used, every landscaper has a favorite attachment.
Attachments Idea Book Cover