Location, Location, Location
Updated: Apr 2, 2020
As lighting designers, it's easy to get stuck in a rut. Whether that's in your design tendencies, fixture selections, or color temperature, it's oftentimes easier to do something you know works rather than try something new. This is what makes it difficult for many outdoor lighting companies to travel cross-country.
A pathlight that holds up to the Midwest snow extremely well may look comically large in a desert landscape. Being centered in Minnesota but with projects also in Arizona, Hawaii, and Cabo San Lucas, we have dealt with this issue firsthand. Take for example the pathlights shown in the photo below.
This Arizona-based project had a lot of low-lying plantings surrounding long pathways. If we used our standard 24" pathlights here they would stick up so high above the plantings that it would take all the focus away from the landscape and hardscape. Normally in Minnesota, if we are worried about pathlights stealing the focus from the landscape we will use moonlights to illuminate walkways. However, in this area of Arizona it's uncommon to come across trees large enough to utilize moonlights. Due to these geographical constraints, it pushed us to think outside of the box and select a small, delicate pathlight that we would almost never use in the Midwest because of snow concerns.
Driveway lighting can also be very location-dependent. Long, sprawling driveways in our home state tend to look great when illuminated with multiple low-profile moonlights or tall, decorative post lights. Moonlights are great at providing soft, natural light without seeing any fixtures (shown to the left), and post lights are a good alternative for homeowners who want something more decorative. However, down south in the desert you run into issues with both of these methods. It's difficult to find evenly-spaced, tall trees along driveways for moonlights, and 8' high post lights stick out like a sore thumb in the low-lying desert landscape. If a certain lighting method is not going to provide the desired effect or if the fixtures are going to take focus away from the effect, then we're not going to force it. Instead, we adjust our design strategies to provide the client with the best lighting possible for their location.
In the project shown to the right and below, we used high-quality, beefy bollards to light the driveway and then we custom-mounted uplights on the backside of the bollards to gently light the hillside. The bollards were short enough to blend into the landscape, but they still had enough power to cover most of the driveway with light. On top of this great functionality, the bollards provided an added aesthetic quality that would be impossible with moonlights or post lights. The designs cut into the bollards projected the light in a radiant-design onto the driveway, which helps take the viewers focus off the light source and onto the light effect. The uplights then helped soften the harsh lines of the bollards on the hillside to make the lighting appear more natural.
Just like in real estate, location is everything in landscape lighting. The geography of an area cannot be changed, so as professional lighting designers we have to find the best way to work with what we've got. That involves analyzing the landscape at hand, customizing our designs, and tailoring our fixture selections for that specific client. Whenever a company proposes pre-determined "lighting packages" they are skipping these crucial steps to make it easier on themselves. It would be like buying a tailored suit for yourself, but the suit has been tailored to someone else's measurements.
If you are looking for custom, professional landscape lighting then set up a free design consultation with us at 952-474-4536. No matter the location, we will come to you and find the perfect lighting for your home. You will see the difference with Erickson Outdoor Lighting!