Lighting at night seems like a no brainer. We light up our sidewalks so you can see where you are walking and our roads to assist night time driving. Landscape lighting is mostly for decoration and is rarely essential for visibility at night. Most homeowners don’t even realize that reckless use of artificial lighting is an issue. They are the ones whose houses are lit up with twenty spot lights on the front of their house and trees encircled with lights pointing up towards the leaves so the entire tree is visible from three blocks away at three o clock in the morning. Even if you are the homeowner who has lights only on the entrances to your home, you still could be contributing to light pollution. There is no need to go remove all your lights and let your home sit in the dark all night, there are alternatives to landscape lighting that are night-sky friendly.
First of all any outdoor lighting should assist with visibility and have a practical purpose. This can be achieved with minimal exposure to the sky and surrounding areas where light is not needed at all hours of the night. Here are some tips for installing landscape lights:
Low levels of illumination and lights that shine near or on the ground are key. You do not need spot lights all over your property! Spot lights contribute to light pollution and light trespassing. You do not need to light up your neighbors property, only your own! Motion detecting lights and lights set on timers save energy and money. Most light pollution is caused by excessive and unnecessary lighting. If your lights only illuminate when they sense that they are needed or they are set on a timer then lighting is more utilized instead of on all night long when no one is around. Lights that are set on timers that are from dusk to dawn however are unnecessary. If your lights must be on each night, set your timer for the time when there will most likely be activity outside your home, more in the range of dusk to eight pm in the winter, and don’t even turn them on in the summer. Additionally, only turn lights on in areas that will have activity.
Adding earth tones to your lighting can warm up your landscape with out excessive lighting. Colored lighting can be used with tinted lighting fixtures that double as night-sky-friendly light fixtures. With color lighting you are less likely to emit light pollution. When installing your landscape lights, strategically placing your lights below or behind features you are wanting to illuminate offer the best presentation. Lights shining brightly above take away from the natural beauty of a statue or pond, low lights that imitate moonlight or glow softly create a serene backdrop for your house to rest upon.
There are many benefits to outdoor lighting such as making your property easily and safely accessible after dark. Don’t get carried away though. Too much of a good thing is definitely not good.