Planning A New Custom Landscape or Garden Renovation in Los Angeles: DON’T SKIMP ON CUSTOM LANDSCAPE LIGHTING!

Planning A New Custom Landscape or Garden Renovation in Los Angeles: DON’T SKIMP ON CUSTOM LANDSCAPE LIGHTING!

By Mike Gambino

So you are in the planning stages, or perhaps you have started (otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this) the initial construction phase of a swimming pool, water feature, deck, pond, pergola and landscaping project on your property. In MY humble opinion the single most often overlooked aspect and mistake made during the planning and Design of a new Landscaping and Garden renovation project is the budgeting for and inclusion of or provisions made during construction for a Custom Designed and Built Landscape Lighting System.

What is Custom Designed and Built Landscape Lighting?

To define Custom Designed Landscape Lighting for the purpose of this article, it is certainly not what is found all together in one box at your local home improvement store. It is also not a do it yourself project with materials procured blindly on line or at bricks and mortar store without the assistance of an experienced landscape lighting designer. What it is though is a thoroughly thought out design based upon the owners intended use of the property, lifestyle, preferences and budget by a creative and professional landscape lighting designer who is oftentimes the system builder as well which in case would be called a professional Custom landscape Lighting Designer Builder.


Since Landscape Lighting gets installed at the tail end of a project it is sometimes an afterthought. This is unfortunate because many times sufficient budget is not set aside before the start of a project and this can severely limit the quality of lighting materials and system effectiveness and prove to be detrimental and problematic. Cost overruns during construction are also common and dig into monies that were budgeted to landscape lighting. Being mindful of this and having a reserve or slush fund on hand to pay for these overages so that lighting doesn’t suffer from having its budget pilfered is a good contingency plan to have.

Insufficient Budget

Another mistake that is made is not budgeting enough for Custom Landscape Lighting. But how do you know how much money to set aside for the custom landscape lighting project? Simply call in a qualified professional early during the conceptual phase. Early enough before budget has been set but not before all other aspects of the construction have been determined and agreed upon. This is because landscape lighting costs will obviously be determined by site amenities, difficulty of installation, materials, quantities etc.

Don’t Skimp on the Custom Landscape Lighting

Obviously since I offer custom landscape lighting design and installation services my recommendations may come as being just a bit biased. That may be true but think about it logically. Plants and trees will grow in short time. It’s always nice to have instant landscaping and when you buy larger mature plants what you are basically buying is time. The difference between large, medium and small plants is there age and the amount of time they have had to grow. Again nice to have mature landscaping but is it worth it at the cost of sacrificing the landscape lighting? Especially if you must forego key and critical fixtures that could make or break your nighttime experience in the lighted garden. Of course fixtures can be added and lighting schemes expanded over time but this can be expensive if lighting system infrastructure is not installed during landscape construction.

Installing Landscape Lighting Infrastructure during landscape construction

Even if you are not installing lighting fixtures immediately after a new or landscape remodel project it is smart money to install the infrastructure for the future landscape lighting while the ground is still dirt and all opportunities and options remain open. Custom landscape lighting infrastructure consists of primary power source/s centrally located in the vicinity of where the lights will be, provisions for switching controls, 4″ sleeving under all concrete, decking or hardscaping and other obstacles. Optionally, conduit piping (sealed on both ends to prevent foreign objects and soil, water from entering) can be installed that leads from power source locations to hubs or power distribution boxes located throughout the garden in close vicinity to where lighting fixtures will be located. This preplanning is money well invested and will pay handsome dividends when it comes time to install the permanent custom landscape lighting system. Putting infrastructure in while the ground is open during initial construction can help prevent future disturbance or damage to established landscaping later on. Throwing direct bury low voltage lighting wire in sprinkler trenches and elsewhere unprotected is an amateur practice, a waste of time and money and not a proper way to plan for and is neither a proper foundation to build a custom landscape lighting system on.

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 . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .

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