March 27, 2017


Happy Spring!  It's been a record year for California with the rain and we're finally seeing a break from it.  This means it's time to get back out there to spruce up the garden.

One project that I tackled soon after we moved into our home last year was replacing our grassy yard with a drought tolerant plantscape.
It has added a lot of color and texture, creating a more welcoming entryway.  However, a garden is not complete without appropriate lighting.

Everyone else must be having landscape lighting on the brain too because Home Depot, Orchard Supply and Costco were all having sales promotions on solar lights these last few weeks.  I'm all about bargain hunting so I picked these LED pathway lights for the path border and these spotlights for the trees.  The lights have solar panels connected to each light and generate energy from the sun during the day.  This means no electrician is required for this installation. Whaaat?!  Yep, I installed all the lights by myself in under 30 minutes.  There are no wires to connect each one to the next light, and no need to plug them into an outlet.  Just stake it to the ground in an area where the light can catch some sun.

I'm already in love with these lights.  Since these are powered by the sun, your electrical bill will be the same.  On top of that, the LED bulbs will last about 10 years which is way longer than any regular bulb.  This hopefully translates to me not having to replace a bulb until my 1 year old toddler graduates from elementary school!

I decided to place mine around the edge of the entire front yard, not just the path leading up from the sidewalk to the house.  Since our house is not set back very far from the street, this helps elongate the yard by creating a grander and wider illusion.

To determine placement, start with the pathway lights leading up to the house and then evenly disperse out from there.  We have a stair landing near the front entrance, so I wanted to make sure this particular area was well-lit.  If you have potential trip hazards (i.e. uneven paths), you may want to put special consideration in placing a light in those areas.  I spaced each pathway light about 3 footsteps apart, or roughly 6 feet in between the next.  The lighting coverage radius of each fixture almost overlaps so pedestrians can easily see the path at night.

The spotlights are great for creating height and drama by highlighting a tree (like our maple here) or the landscaped area against the side of the house.  The shadows of the highlighted areas cast additional texture to the night plantscape.

Once all the lights are installed and are lit up at night, step back and admire your work.  Adjust any pathway lights that need to be in a better-suited location, and reposition any spotlight angles to enhance its highlighted features.

Installation Tips
  • Before installing, gently place the lights on the ground where you'd like to install permanently.  Step back and see if this is exactly where you want it.  Make adjustments and step back again.  Once you're satisfied with the final location, then stake them to the ground.  This will help avoid putting a million holes in your nice yard while you're trying to reposition the lights.
  • The widest rim of the pathway light should be a few inches away from the path.  Not only does it create a wider illusion of the path.  It also avoids the risk of a pedestrian getting their pant leg caught on the fixture.  
  • Staking the lights on soft soil is much easier than dry, hard soil.  Wait to install until after it's rained or the landscape has been recently watered so that the soil is much softer and the stake can penetrate more smoothly.  


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