Landscape lighting design is an investment that every homeowner should be willing to make.
Both the house and the surrounding property represent living spaces in two different realms. One is secluded, enclosed, and private, and represents the mental aspects of humanity that makes us unique among living things. The other is open, organic, and vibrant, and speaks to the instinctive side of our nature in a deep, unconscious manner. To bring the two realms together, we must move them beyond duality into a third realm of aesthetic personal experience. Otherwise, they remain trapped between the polarities of the bourgeois and the mundane, offering little more than more of the same.
Real living is feeling. It is a truth beyond words and definition—something we sense without any need to explain our experience. Some things we experience create more feeling than others, but nothing creates more feeling in the heart than light. It is both universal and personal at once. Its rich symbolic import ranges from the spiritual to the material and from the sublime to the beautiful. Because of this, landscape lighting helps make every other design element become visible in more than one sense of the term. Not only does illumination make the form of a thing clearer; it also makes the essence of a thing emerge more fully from within.
In saying this, we by no means wish to convey the impression that landscape lighting design is abstract or mystical. It is neither. It is more like a mind for science driven by a heart that beats for art. Its intention is to reveal feelings trapped within forms while at the same time remaining practical and true to form. It is the effect of the light, not the light itself that brings out this hidden sense of the world. Like Plato said, none of us really see light, we see color. In landscape lighting design, we want our clients to see color that vibrates with feeling, and forms that work as symbols for a personal way of life linked unconsciously to a vast and timeless sense of the world.
Water, for example, is a universal symbol rich in emotional significance. It is both 97% of our form, and it symbolizes what we hope will continue on somewhere when our forms our gone. Lighting a water feature on the landscape is a top priority. Any pond, fountain, or swimming pool should be treated with utmost importance so that it will emerge from the darkness and capture the imagination the moment it is seen. This focal point can expand outward into the remainder of the landscape by lighting outdoor structures, gardens, andhardscape design. Stone patios become the stages of outdoor events. Arbors offer intimate retreat beneath the sheltering branches of illuminated trees. Statuary appears regal in a curious blend of light and shadow. Gardens transform into living pathways with an invitation of warmth.
This can only be possible if one remembers one absolute fact: landscapes are three dimensional realms that are made of many layers of color, form, and texture. Lighting design has to follow this progression of all of these forms and layers multiple levels of illumination over specific design elements that define the architectural, organic, and decorative keynotes of the property. Amateurs and do-it-yourself manuals will mislead people into believing that too many fixtures means too much light. They recommend saving money by using fewer, but brighter lights. This is like using a single lamp without a lampshade to light an entire room. If you tried to do such a thing, the glare would instantly blind your eyes, even from an indirect angle.
You should never do this in your house, and you should never do this in your yard.
True landscape lighting takes a much more sophisticated approach than simply throwing light around in all directions. It respects each element of outdoor design as a realm of experience in its own right. Many different types of fixtures are needed to address the multiplicity of sizes, shapes, and colors that ultimately converge to form the essence of a property. There are up lights, feature lights, pathway lights, and even furniture lights for outdoor seating areas. There are also special decorative fixtures that are used to highlight the key elements of home architecture. This last point is extremely important, because the ultimate intention of both landscape architectural services and outdoor lighting design is to unify architecture with Nature and create the sensibility of a living experience that goes beyond the duality of indoors/outdoors into an expanded dimension of living space where the and subjective form in a uniquely personal human experience.