Best 9 Tips For Landscape Lighting At The Cottage

Updated May 10, 2023

Cottage landscape lighting tips Nite Time Decor Oakville

With the month of May here and almost gone, that means COTTAGE SEASON has started!! Whoop! Why not make the most of your home away from home even after the sun has gone down and install some outdoor landscape lighting!

If you are a cottage owner, there’s a good chance that you spend more of your weekends at the cottage than you do in your own backyard in the summer. Most cottage goers prefer the natural light of a starlit sky or and roaring campfire.

While you might use your cottage to get away from the city and enjoy the great outdoors, it’s important to remember that landscape lighting can keep you safe and secure while also allowing you to maximize your usable space.

Because of these benefits, we recommend installing a landscape lighting system around your cottage. If you’re hesitant to this idea, you’re not alone. That’s why our lighting experts have outlined the 7 best ways to use landscape lighting for the cottage so you can have all the benefits that an outdoor lighting design offers while not compromising on your outdoor experience.

Being able to see the stars is what people want from the cottage so minimizing light pollution is paramount. Design follows function, my friends.

Point Light Down

Many cottages are in designated “dark sky” areas, which means that property owners need to be extra-careful about the type of lighting fixtures they choose to use. In order to preserve that view of the starry night sky and soften your landscape lighting, keep lights pointed down.

Lighting from above downwards on your landscape is how the moon shines and looks natural.  Using shields to shine the light downward as opposed to up toward the sky will help create a calm and subtle ambiance in your outdoor space and help you avoid light pollution.

Downlight Prevents “Light Trespass”

If you have neighbours nearby, down lighting will also keep you from shining light onto your neighbour’s property while trying to illuminate your own. Light trespass, or accidentally lighting your neighbour’s property with your outdoor fixtures, can cause quite a bit of tension in cottage country. To avoid this, don’t over-light. Instead, opt for low wattage downlighting effects to ensure a subtle, manageable glow.

Using fixtures that are low to the ground such as stake and post lights may be a happy compromise that allows your family to safely navigate the yard or pathways at the cottage without blocking your enjoyment of the night sky or the moon on the water.

This doesn’t mean you can’t put a light over the front or back door, but you may want to skip the uplighting to highlight the façade on the front of the cottage or avoid the spotlights pointed up at trees for curb appeal.Cottage landscape lighting tips starry night ski

Use Lower Wattages

You don’t want to miss out on the fireflies, shooting stars or seeing the Big Dipper at night, so using dimmer lights at the cottage makes sense. Not all fixtures can accommodate lower wattages, not all locations can accommodate this (pool or dock lighting for instance needs to remain bright).

Solar powered lights might can be the perfect compromise here.

Lights On When Needed

Timers and motion sensors can be super helpful at the cottage. Regardless of what lighting options you choose it is helpful to have them controlled by a timer. Timers can help to save energy and minimize the impacts of artificial lighting. Not only will your human and wildlife neighbours appreciate it, you’ll have better control over your hydro bills.

This way lights only come on when needed or when you want them to, and you won’t forget to turn them off! Plus, it can help security if it appears there are people there all the time and not just on weekends.

Maintaining the dark sky is important to many cottagers. Consider a self-imposed light curfew and have all lights off by 11PM for instance.

Safety and Security Is Still Important

Safety and security at the cottage is important too, but the risks may look a little different than in the city.

Use lighting for pathways, steps and docks

Providing a safe environment for your family, friends and guests is one of the biggest benefits of installing landscape lighting around your cottage. The last thing you want to do during a weekend away is take a trip to the emergency room for an injury that was obtained due to poor visibility.

Cottages are notorious for uneven terrain, exposed roots, steep slopes, docks and ponds, unfamiliar paths, etc. Ensure that where sure footing or staying on the path is important that appropriate lighting is provided.

Pathways, steps and docks are three of the most important areas to illuminate to create a safe outdoor environment at the cottage.

Before installing your landscape lighting design, take a moment in the daytime to walk the perimeter of your cottage and scout out any areas that could present a hazard in the dark  – ascending, descending or uneven areas, stairs, pathways or the dock.

Safety and security cottage landscape lighting

Light Up Signposts and Address Markers

Don’t forget the signpost or number for your cottage. Whether it’s a weathered sign nailed to a tree, a dedicated post, or some numbers next to the door, make sure this is clearly visible at night. This not only helps your family and friends find your cottage after dark, but it’s essential should emergency services ever be required.

This doesn’t mean your security lighting be entirely utilitarian. There are a lot of options to provide safety lighting in attractive and appealing ways that don’t cause light pollution. There are a lot of attractive plastic and resin options that will require less maintenance and withstand the elements better than metal like cast iron.

Lighting Task Areas

Cottagers love to make the most of their vacation, which often leads to lots of late night BBQs and impromptu bocce ball tournaments. Or lighting the area around the deck, dock or boat house. Ensure these areas and activities take place in well-lit areas with professionally installed task lighting.

Motion sensors may be just the ticket for areas where activity at night is more sporadic. This way you have light, but only when you need it. The most important consideration here is safety, but also keep in mind where the light is directed to keep the skies dark.

Keep It Simple

When it comes to a landscape lighting design for your cottage there’s one important thing to remember: the cottage is not the city. Because of this, you should not treat your cottage landscape lighting design the same as the outdoor lighting you have at home. When creating a lighting design for your cottage, use a ‘less is more’ approach that allows you enough light to be safe but not so much that you’re outshining the moon.

You might want to skip the chrome or polished fixtures for something more traditional. Choosing a black or pewter finish means the fixtures will blend in at night when not in use. Ornate and intricate fixtures will look out of place in a rustic cabin or cottage. Instead, consider fixtures that incorporate reclaimed wood, or textured natural elements.

In the city you set up outdoor lighting so that you can enjoy your landscaping and architectural features, but while you’re at the cottage you want to enjoy nature. It’s hard to see the stars and the fireflies when there are lights everywhere. Another consideration is the impact excessive lighting can have on wildlife behaviour when artificial lighting is added to their natural habitat.

One more consideration – extra lighting means extra bugs. Bzzzzz!

Don’t Want Electric Lights?

Some cottage owners prefer not to have electric lights at the cottage at all. Depending on the layout, location, and the soil conditions of your cottage property, it may be impractical to run wiring to things like the dock or along steep pathways.

For these areas consider using battery or solar powered lighting fixtures. While they may not be as bright, they may be perfectly suited for this type of application. For other lighting consider using LED fixtures to save on energy. LEDs may have a higher initial cost, but they will typically require less energy and less maintenance over their lifetime, resulting in a net benefit.

Selecting Fixtures for Your Cottage

There’s a lot to consider when selecting outdoor lighting fixtures for your cottage. While you want the style to compliment the cottage feel, you’ll need to be careful about what materials you ultimately decide to use.

Exposure to moist air can quickly take its toll on stainless steel components. As such, our Nite Time Decor outdoor lighting experts recommend using bronze fixtures. While brass and copper fixtures will rust and corrode, bronze fixtures are far more resistant to moisture and wind. What’s more, they’re often designed with a rustic feel, making them the perfect option for cottage life.

Contact Nite Time Décor

Your cottage is meant to be your sanctuary away from the city, and if you’re not a lighting professional, creating an outdoor lighting design and performing a successful installation can become a lot of work. And we all know cottages are meant for relaxing weekends away. And if you choose the wrong design you leave yourself open to over-illumination that will take away from the whole cottage experience. If you install the design incorrectly you could spend hours trying to find a solution by way of trial and error.

At Nite Time Décor Oakville, our lighting professionals can help you choose the perfect design for your outdoor space and install it quickly and correctly, so you can enjoy your lighting design right away. Whether you’re looking to get a design installed right away or just have questions about where to start, contact Nite Time Décor today.

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