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How To Install Lawn Lights

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Why A Lighting Designer Can Join The Project Later

How to Install Landscape Lighting (w/ Monica from The Weekender)

Many customers assume the landscape lighting designer has to be in on the project from the beginning, but we really dont.

Sometimes, it’s actually harder for us if were in at the beginning, because it requires more frequent trips to the job site to coordinate with landscapers and irrigation installers.

Yes, youd think it would be easier for us to run our wiring when landscapers are digging drenches for irrigation, but the two jobs don’t necessarily line up. While irrigation lines need to be installed in straight lines, our wires can take twists and turns, and sometimes that works out better.

While landscapers tear up the lawn a bit to put in irrigation, we don’t need to do that.

We take the flat edge of a shovel and wiggle it back and forth to create a small v in the ground. Then we tuck in our wiring and neatly close the opening back up.

Youll never know we were there. We give your yard back to you the way we found it your flowerbeds intact.

If we show up after the landscaping is done, we can get in, do our job, and get out.

To Make Picture Windows As Charming At Night As By Day

Unless you cover windows with expensive draperies, they become an eyesore when you are sitting indoors at night.

The view that they admit during the day fades with the setting sun, in its place appears a big rectangle of inky, shiny black. It is a cold, depressing sight that spoils the decoration of the room.

Yet it is so easy to avoid this. All you have to do is install a few lights outdoors so that they illuminate the landscaped garden, lighting palms, tree and shrubs. Another idea is to use rope light for accent lighting of garden beds. Immediately the glass loses its impenetrable, mirror-like blackness and becomes transparent again.

Figure Out Your Functional Needs

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The first thing you will want to do is plan out your functional lighting requirements. For example, sidewalks that lead to your door need to be illuminated so that people can see where they are going.

For these, you will want to use fairly bright lights that direct the light where it needs to go. I usually use low voltage lighting for these spaces because they distribute the light better.

If you have a deck or patio where people sit after dark, youll want to provide enough light for them to see each other. One of my favorite way to do this is to use patio umbrellas that have lights under them. For these, the solar version does actually work pretty well which makes it easier to install, since you wont need any wiring.

You might also want to add Citronella candles or torches in this category. Not so much for the light they provide, but to ward off the mosquitoes and other insects that can be a nuisance outside.

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Wire The Light Fixture And Switch

  • Turn off the main circuit breaker in your homes electrical panel.
  • Wire the light fixture per the manufacturers instructions.
  • Next, wire the light switch.
  • Then, connect the cable to the GFCI circuit breaker.

Safety Tip: Never work in a panel box unless you are knowledgeable and comfortable doing so. Even with the main breaker off, the wires coming from the power company are still energized. Be careful when working in the panel box.

Choosing Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Equipment


Purchasing all of the necessary equipment for this project was the most overwhelming part. There are just so many choices and options that it can be confusing at first. Ill walk you through our equipment decisions.

The first thing I did was take a look at low voltage lighting options on Amazon. There are just so many choices I didnt know where to start. Then Abby and I took a trip to Lowes and looked at their Portfolio brand of landscape lighting.

While it was helpful to see all of the different lighting options in person to get a better idea of what we needed, the Portfolio brand didn’t seem like it was a higher quality than other brands we had looked at, and the prices were definitely higher than what I was seeing on Amazon. So after weighing our options, we ultimately decided to purchase our equipment from Amazon, and we’ve been very happy with that decision.

Landscape Lighting Supplies We Used

Here is everything we used to install our landscape lighting:

Choosing the Best Transformer

Transformers will be the biggest cost of this project. There are a number of calculators online to help you determine the power of your transformer, but its very simple: Add up the total wattage of the lights used, multiply the total wattage by 1.25 , and make sure your transformer can accommodate that number.

Heres how the numbers worked out for our three zones:

Choosing Low Voltage Landscape Lights

Choosing Low Voltage Wire

Choosing Wire Connectors

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For Garden Landscape Lighting Success Experiment

Success with garden landscape lighting comes from experimenting. The only way to test your landscape lighting fixtures and placement is by moving the lights around when night time falls.

For example, you have drawn a plan for placing lightings in the garden landscape, but how will you know if your lighting plant will work and achieve the night time lighting effects that you want?

There is only one answer to success with any landscape lighting design installation Youve got to experiment!

The first step required in creating any outdoor landscape lighting scheme is experimentation. That is the only way to satisfy yourself as to the effects your lighting will achieve.

Get out in the garden after dark, use a few long extension cords if you need to. One of the nice features of solar lights in the landscape is once they are charged they can be moved around easily to test different lighting effects with not electric source required.

Make certain to do your home exterior lighting experiment on a dry night, or at least as dry as it is possible to find any garden or lawn area at night. Never install any lighting or connect any wires when the circuit is hot.

Always have everything hooked up and all lamps and light fixtures in place before plugging the extension cord into an outlet. Have one or more flashlights handy to see what you are doing when the cords are unplugged.

To See Where You Are Going

Guiding your path is without doubt the most important reason to install garden lighting in your home landscape outdoors.

In fact, important is not a strong enough word. Lighting of all thoroughfares is essential.

To walk up an unfamiliar, unlighted front walk in the black of a cloudy night is one of the most frustrating, annoying and even frightening things to many. Check out Spill lighting which is very effective.

It is not only difficult to see where you are going, but you are constantly wondering what booby traps are lying in wait for you. You do not dare to rush ahead, yet inching is little better.

This is an experience we have all had. Yet the number of such darkened walkways not to mention paths, steps and driveways is untold. It is a wonder there are not more skinned shins, torn nylons, broken legs and even face plants.

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Item Have Been Added To Cart

Trees are natural supports for decorative outdoor string lights, especially if you have them on both sides of a grassy area. Learn how to string lights across the backyard correctly, and your lights will look like theyre floating in the air after dark.

  • First, measure the distance from tree to tree where you want to hang the lights. Consider how tight you want the lights pulled as you measure. Taut lights give more structure, while looser ones feel more casual.
  • Drill guide holes on the trees where you want to hang the lights. With a helper, string the lights from one tree to the next, holding them carefully to make sure the holes are the right distance apart. Mark the spots on the trees and drill guide holes.
  • Install a hook into each tree at the marked spot. Install the bulbs in your string lights.
  • Thread the string lights onto the hooks. Make sure theyre securely in place.
  • Connect your string lights using an extension cord if needed. Check to be sure your string lights work properly. If necessary, use an additional hook to secure the string lights firmly against the trees.

If you’re wondering how to hang string lights in a backyard without trees, put them on your deck railings instead.

Tip: Use exterior tape in place of staples if you are concerned about damaging your railing.

A combination of hooks and staples may be the most stable option. This is often true if your string lights are hanging overhead, such as on a covered patio or deck.

How To Wire The Lamp Post

How to Install Low Voltage Outdoor Landscape Lighting – 10 Easy Steps

After your concrete has hardened, remove the work straps. It’s now time to wire your lantern to the lamp post. For this part, youll need a utility knife, wire strippers and wire nuts. Make sure all power is off at the main breaker box before you begin.

  • Peel away 2 to 3 inches of insulation from the UF wire on the lamp post side. Look for white, black and green or copper wires. There should be matching wires on the lantern side.
  • Use your wire strippers to expose about 1/2-inch of bare copper on all the wires. Do this on the post and lantern side. Pair the wires from the lantern to the post based on colors. Use your wire nuts to hold the joined pairs together.
  • Slide your lantern onto the post. Tighten it with the provided screws to hold it in place.
  • Hire a licensed electrician to connect the wires to the appropriate breaker box or do all the wiring from start to finish.

Tip: Consider using a professional electrician to add a switch or retrofit an existing switch for your new post lighting fixture.

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Dig The Hole And Trench

  • Use a posthole digger to create a hole thats about 18- to 24-inches deep and 6-inches in diameter. Check the lamp post manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Fill the bottom with 6 inches of gravel.
  • Dig a trench that runs from your lamp post area to your power source with a shovel.
  • Place soil on a plastic tarp as you dig to make refilling this area easier.

Tip: Electrical codes vary on the proper depth for burying conduit, but a good rule of thumb is 18 inches for PVC, 24 inches for direct wire burial and 6 inches for RNC .

How Do You Hang String Lights On A Patio Without Nails

Most hooks use nails to hang string lights, but there are a few ways you can hang string lights without nails. Try using:

  • Staples

Staples are more secure than tape and are not as visible as nails.

  • Gutter hooks

Gutter hooks hang on your gutter, so you dont need nails to fasten them to your home.

  • Adhesive hooks

Adhesive hooks stick to the side of your home. But these wont be as sturdy compared to nailing a hook into your wall.

  • Tape

Tape is the least secure of the four options, but it wont damage your home if youre worried about drilling holes into your walls.

You can also hang your outdoor string lights in a few different places that dont require nails.

These include:

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Choose The Right Lamp Post

Here’s is the first step on how to install a lamp post.

  • Choose the best lamp post for your space. In most residential settings, an 8-foot lamp post works best. These provide plenty of overhead light without spilling over into your neighbors yard.
  • Choose your lighting style. Some post lamps come with one bulb. Others provide a brighter light or a diffused light with multiple bulb setups.
  • Choose a shade. Clear shades provide more light. Frosted glass shades offer more ambient lighting.
  • Coordinate your existing outdoor sconces and other lighting hardware to create a more cohesive look.

Tip: Pair your yard lamp post with decorative elements in your front or back yard such as planters or patio tables.

Check The Electrical Connections

7 steps of How to install landscape lighting

After you set up the transformer, plan the layout. Depending on the style of the light, you can assemble it and press it into the ground or drive the base into the ground and screw the light onto the base. Some lights have adjustable shades that help you direct the light onto specific areas. Connect the light by clamping the wires to the power cable. Turn on the power to check the electrical connections, and make the final adjustments at night.

Lay Out the Lights

After you set up the transformer, plan the layout. Depending on the style of the light, you can assemble it and press it into the ground or drive the base into the ground and screw the light onto the base. Some lights have adjustable shades that help you direct the light onto specific areas. Connect the light by clamping the wires to the power cable. Turn on the power to check the electrical connections, and make the final adjustments at night.

Although most lights must be assembled, it’s easy to put them together. Start by running the wires from the light assembly through the riser base and attach the stake. Insert the light bulb, then attach the lens and cover.

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The Easiest Way To Install Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

Learn how to install low voltage landscape lighting and give your home’s exterior a high-end, custom look!

I love to drive through beautiful neighborhoods to check out the homes and get ideas. Recently I was driving around in the evening and realized that just about every home that caught my eye had lighting that illuminated their landscaping and gave a gorgeous soft glow to the house.

When I pointed this out to Donnie, he was totally on board with doing something similar for our home. And since he took this project and ran with it, I’m going to let him explain how to install low voltage landscape lighting for your own home!

A few months ago Abby came to me with the idea of installing landscape lighting in the front of our house. I love the finished and classy look of landscape lighting, but I assumed it was a difficult and expensive project. It turns out that installing low voltage landscape lighting is easier and cheaper than I thought, and it makes a huge impact on the look of our home after the sun goes down.

Hang Your String Lights

Now just connect the lights to all the hooks, and thats it.If you just have one strand of lights, youre done after you attach the lights with cable clamps or hooks.

But often youll need to connect strings together. Just secure the male end to the female end of each string.

Check with your manufacturer to make sure that you are not connecting too many strands together. If you connect too many it will put a lot of strain on the string lights. The weight of the lights add to the tension of the string and it may also make the lights sag. A little curve is natural, but you dont want them to hang too low.

If you are hanging glass bulbs, consider removing them before hanging your string. This way, you dont have to worry about them breaking during installation. Its incredibly helpful to remove the bulbs if youre hanging several strands of lights or if they cross each other.

Use guide wire to support the hanging lights if needed. If you are hanging heavy bulbs or running hanging lights about 100 feet or more, we recommend guide wire. It provides extra support for your hanging lights, reducing the tension of the strings.

Check out this video to learn more.

If you buy lights with hanging grommets, you can thread the guide wire through the grommet before you hang the lights.

If your lights dont have grommets, use zip ties to secure the guide wire to the string lights. You can do this before or after hanging the lights.

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Lighting New Vs Established Landscapes

Lighting a brand new landscape, with sapling trees and new plantings, takes a different kind of skill than lighting a mature landscape.

New trees, for instance, cant support the fixtures needed for a moonlighting effect theyre not tall or sturdy enough. So we head to your homes soffits or gables instead to mount lights there.

Say you have a start-up landscape, with a 3-foot Japanese maple.

That little tree doesnt need a 450 lumen bulb shining on it. It would overwhelm its delicate features. A softer 150 or 200 lumen bulb would do nicely.

So we start with a lower wattage. But as the tree grows, we can simply change the light bulb, without changing the fixture. We adjust the lighting as the landscape grows.

Ive seen a lot of mature landscapes with 10 or so trees, and each tree is lit with the same kind of light bulb usually a standard, one-size-fits-all MR16 lamp.

Thats no good. Every tree is different.

A majestic maple might need two or three fixtures to artistically light it. One with a narrow beam spread to penetrate high in the tree. Another with a wider beam spread to softly accentuate the leaves and branches.

A low-growing Japanese maple needs a fixture with a wide 120-degree beam spread, to give it a lower, wider wash of light.

We might use five different degrees of beam spread and three or four different wattages to light those 10 trees the other guys lit with a one-size-fits-all lamp.

We design with 30 different types of light bulbs not just one.

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