01 Jan A lush garden deserves to be seen after sunset, and Gambino landscape lighting design can make that possible.
By Mike Gambino
The moon is high in the sky which at twilight is a beautiful shade of sapphire blue, but towering trees still cast dramatic night shadows across the lawn, and their silhouettes dance across the surface of the pool.
With the addition of low-voltage landscape lights, the walls have dissolved between the kitchen and garden and extended living space to the once dark corners of their yard.
In addition, a unique front door is bathed in a warm light that provides security while highlighting its beauty.
Tiny spotlights buried in ground cover shine up and highlight crape myrtle trees.
And a light shining down from a majestic oak washes the front yard in a circle of light that is just barely noticeable. Creating a virtual full moon every night.
There has been an exploding interest in landscape lighting that is driven by the same cocooning instincts that have spurred gourmet kitchen makeovers and big screen TVs in the family room.
People want to extend their living area, they want to entertain more at home, and they want to enjoy their yards when they get home from work after dark.
In California landscape low voltage landscape lighting was invented over 50 years ago.
However when I began selling custom designed and installed landscape lighting systems 22 years ago, not many knew what I was talking about, now I make my living designing and installing landscape lighting systems for discerning clients and on major landscaping projects.
Often there are times we have more work than we can manage as landscape lighting has become the third dimension in even modest landscape projects that include garden design and irrigation.
In between new project installations we are maintaining our past projects which keeps us busy 6 days a week 52 weeks out of the year. “It has gotten quite popular I used to suggest it, now clients ask for it.
People see a beautiful tree in the daylight, I see it and I’m thinking about how and where to position my lighting equipment to make it look amazing at night.
“I had a hobby,” he had said. “And it got out of hand.”
Sixty years ago, he was an electrician who specialized in ranch and farm projects when one of his clients, publisher Walter Annenberg, asked him to light his gardens in anticipation of the arrival of a special guest.
“He told me I had two weeks to get it done,” Locklin said.
None of his usual suppliers could produce the low-voltage equipment he needed on such short notice, so Locklin went to work in one of his garden equipment sheds, putting tractor lights inside coffee cans.
When the guests — Dwight D. Eisenhower and wife Mamie — arrived two weeks later, they were swept away by the ethereal lighting in the gardens on Annenberg’s estate.
“The effect is to be seen, not the source,” said Locklin.
Landscape lighting can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, and it has the added benefit of improving the security of any home. Burglars do not like light.
Though there are solar lights and low-voltage kits available, professionals agree that this is not a do-it-yourself project.
Electricity, even 12-volt, isn’t anything to fool with, especially outdoors where equipment is exposed to the elements.
But a major landscape lighting design is not the only means to create practical light as well as romance in the yard.
There are grill lights that make cooking outdoors after dark easier. There are festive and fun copper Tiki torch lights reminiscent of a tropical resort vacation built to survive the elements.
Go with lower intensity and use more lights. Highlight paths, water features, a stone wall or a statue. Cast a shadow on the wall or the pavement, the goal is to create a mood.
Locklin had said that, 50 years ago, the California homeowners who called on his pioneering concept of landscape lighting did so because they were proud of their homes.
They didn’t go to the beach or the mountains every weekend. They entertained at home. There was pride in ownership and pride in home.
It is fun to watch it go back to that. Besides, the night is beautiful.
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 20 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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