By Mike Gambino

You’ve finally decided it’s time to illuminate your back yard, front yard or maybe even both.  Thinking of how nice it would be to be able to use your property to its full extent after the sun goes down? Maybe you have an old system that is just not effective anymore and is drawing all of that electricity driving your electric bill sky high every month?  Where do you begin? Meeting with a professional landscape lighting design/Build specialist to help you out with your project is the best place to start.  Here are six things that you should know before you go into that meeting that will help the designer master plan your dream environment! The most important answer to have is WHY LIGHT ? Considering these 6 things will assist in answering that question.

Pool blog 21) Family

Your family members are the ones that will be using the space most often so bring a list of all family members including their ages (don’t forget the pets, they are family too).  Make sure to include a list of hobbies they may have, especially if they relate to the outdoors at night! Is your property in an area where there are nocturnal predatory animals like coyotes? Do family pets have the run of the yard at night?  Designs can vary greatly depending on the age range of all family members that could be using the spaces at night or predawn hours.
 2) Existing Conditions
Know what your trouble areas are and also where some opportunities to take special advantage of them with lighting are about your current site.  Every persons taste is different.  You may hate the way a row of evergreen trees blocks a view from your house but your designer may love the way they sit on your site to create a background to other lighting opportunities that exist in front of them and by creatively lighting them at night create depth.  Unless they know you don’t like a certain statue it may not get minimized in the lighting design.  Bring a list of current front yard and back yard problems areas that you think should be minimized or overcome in the lighting design.  Also, bring a list of all the positive elements and qualities of the yards that should be highlighted or enhanced in the design.
 3. Outdoor Activities
This is a must have on the entire list.  Will you be cooking, eating, sitting, relaxing, or reading?  Maybe you will be entertaining large groups of guests. Do you like to use the pool or spa at night? Any recreational activities like swimming, basketball, throwing a baseball or a football?  Then safe traverse between the home and where these activities take place is important. All of these outdoor activities need to be taken into consideration for a good lighting plan, so make sure to know what you and your family will be doing outdoors at night.
4. Desired level of lighting
How do you want your site to look after dark?  Are you looking to showcase your home and impress your friends and neighbors? Or would you like a more understated look or feel?  Maybe you are thinking of a mixture of both.  Do you like the idea of lighting that is welcoming and creates an ambiance in the space that is safe and secure ?  Knowing what you like is big and very beneficial to your designer.
 5. Subjects
Observe your property during daylight hours and make notes. Do you like the way the sunlight creates dramatic shadows under the large leafy tree? Make a survey and make an inventory establish what you like most that could be subjects for lighting. Do you like colorful plants? List your favorite plants, flowers, trees etc. This list could even include paving , fences walls etc. Don’t forget to list what you do not like as well.
 6. Budget
Know how much you are willing to spend. Keep in mind there is a initial cost of getting the new landscape lighting system, but there is also the annual cost of maintenance and increase to your electric bill that has to be considered too.  Knowing what you are willing to spend on annual basis for the next five years will prevent any maintenance sticker shock that may occur.

Rosenfeld-3Knowing these 6 things will help you and the designer get you through the entire design process with minimal surprises and it will also help them provide a better design plan that fits in your budget.

facebook logoThis landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all 20160627_004632146_iOSrights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 27 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to www.Gambinolighting.com . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .

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