Lighting the Way – Tips for Pathway Lighting

We want our homes to be welcoming places for our family and friends even before they enter through the front door. Even getting out of their cars or walking up the street, you can make your home look friendly and inviting by lighting your pathways and walkways. It doesn’t have to be so bright that it looks like you’re trying to re-create sunlight, but a gently lit pathway enables your guests to see clearly so as to avoid injury as they make their way to your front porch, or backyard oasis.

Walkway lighting doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but you should consider a few things before you buy.

Professional or DIY?
Purchasing a DIY lighting system, whether solar or electric will often be less expensive than hiring a landscape lighting professional, but the lighting kits often aren’t as hearty as what the pro’s would use, leaving you in the dark after a season. You’ve probably seen the cheap solar dome lights that spike into the ground, and they either seem to not work at all or are so dim they don’t provide any useful light, or they’re falling apart or tipping over when the ground gets too soft.

The great thing about hiring a professional outdoor lighting specialist is that they not only just install the system, but they have the inspired ability to create ambiance and mood, making the most of your home and gardens. They know all the products available and have an eye for perfect placement, not only to make it look beautiful, but safe.

How much maintenance?
Depending on how many fixtures you have, maintenance could be minimal from replacing burnt-out bulbs to removing debris and leaves or trimming back bushes to keep your lights from over-heating. Replacing individual fixtures or the whole system will depend on the level of warranty your fixtures have. Cheaper ones made of plastic could last a couple of seasons, whereas high quality brass fixtures could last for decades.

Professional landscape lighting companies will often have maintenance packages so you don’t have to spend your weekends cleaning your fixtures.

Types of Pathway Lighting
When you’re choosing what type of lighting best suits your needs, make sure that the lighting isn’t glaringly bright or shines in the eyes of you and your guests. Here are some choices:

Step Risers – lights installed in the risers of your stairs, or a wall beside the steps

Down-Lighting – create a moonlit effect with a gentle light positioned in a tree above the walkway

Path Lamps – lights on stakes which light up the path around your feet

Walkway Lighting Design
When deciding where you place your light fixtures along your pathway, you don’t want it to look like an airport runway, so watch that you don’t place the fixtures too close together. Also, professionals suggest to not place all the lights on the same side of your walkway, but instead stagger them on either side, placing them every 10 feet or so. Remember, you don’t need to illuminate every inch of sidewalk, but have gentle areas of light to guide the way.