21 Dec Easy Versus Simple – Demystifying the Landscape Lighting Process
By Mike Gambino
Being able to enjoy your own property after dark by way of landscape lighting has become a passion of the American homeowner. The landscape lighting industry is still encouraging every able-bodied tradesperson to get out there and start installing landscape lighting as a sideline along with their primary trade or service. Easy and profitable are the words they use to appeal to the enterprising generalist to get them to up-sell their lighting products to current customers with very little experience and training.
Funny…I how I have for years and still get calls all the time that repeat the same sad story…
“I had all this work done last year and my landscape lighting is looking kind of sad this year. Can you help?”
No matter how EASY claims may be about landscape lighting development and maintenance, if you don’t think through the process before hand and give some real consideration to the three distinct elements of the landscape, you may find yourself disappointed.
But here’s the thing…it really is a SIMPLE 1-2-3-4 process! Simple for specialists who work with these disciplines day in and day out that is.
- DESIGN PLANNING
Good planning can make the difference between success and failure every time.
What does planning mean?
It means getting clear about what your end goal is and then building a road map and plan of implementation to get there.
Three major landscape lighting elements that need to be considered
- The ART (aesthetic, design, composition)
- The SCIENCE (electrical system engineering, cable sizing, lamp performance)
- The FUNCTION (safety, security, beauty)
- The MAINTENANCE (crucial on-going aftercare of the installation)
Knowing this is only half the battle!
When working on the ART you need to be touring garden sites after dark, viewing and collecting pictures of landscape lighting schemes that are appealing, collecting inspiration and forming your ideas. Maybe this isn’t your strong suit, so you’ll need a qualified landscape lighting designer that can guide you.
When working on the SCIENCE you need to start with understanding of electrical equipment and the requirements of your landscape lighting system. Where to logistically locate key equipment and how it will connect and interface with the properties electrical system. Best practices, Safety and electrical codes must be understood and abided by. Choosing the right fixture, the right position in the landscape and the right lamp is critical in achieving the desired result. Expensive mistakes are often made in these areas by novices. If you need help in this arena, think about paying a qualified professional landscape lighting design and build specialist for a consultation and hiring them to handle this for you.
When working on the FUNCTION you need to look at the infrastructure of your site. Are their obstacles changes in grade, is the path to the entry door obvious to visitors and first responders in the case of a medical emergency when the sun goes down What is the desired function you are trying to achieve? Are you concerned about creating a feeling of safety and security, lighting for aesthetic beauty or a combination of all? Thinking through function is imperative to success. If it’s not your cup of tea, then find a Landscape Lighting Professional that can help you figure out the important details of function.
When working on the MAINTENANCE it is best performed by the same company or individual who did the original installation. Some installers do not offer on-going Maintenance service, in my humble opinion this should be a red flag and those who offer no maintenance either do so because they don’t care about the future performance and viability of the system or don’t want to deal with the problems they know that will pop up due to their lack of confidence in their installation techniques and or specification of materials.
Getting help doesn’t mean you have to hand over the project and have no input, it does not mean reinventing the wheel. Landscape lighting work is a complex blend of disciplines and relies upon input from the property owner and a collaborate effort with the design install professional and other trade professionals who may also be working on the site. A physician with a general practice consults specialists when there are issues that need deeper knowledge. A lawyer consults fellow legal professionals when the issue skirts new territory. It is wise to bring in seasoned professional when you find yourself or hired non specialized contractors in waters that feel a bit deep or confusing.
Once you narrow down the areas that need outsourcing you will be able to find the appropriate specialized landscape lighting trade professional that is a perfect fit for taking on your project to make it a success.
This landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 28 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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