Leading With LED Lighting

Green landscape design has been the trend for at least 5 years, and eco-friendly light bulbs in other facets have been in vogue much longer.  Over the last few years I’ve been paying more attention to what the low voltage lighting industry has to offer for LEDs and finally this year I was able to test them out.

From illumination on a BBQ grill, path lights to signal a curve in a walk, or inset steps lights to allow a quick and safe decent to a lower patio landscape lighting can be practical.  However, my more favorite usage, which is definitely more fun to design are the mood lighting that becomes an added bonus.   My utmost favorite is moonlighting in a large tree to allow the outline of the branches to dance on the ground when the lights shine through.  After reviewing the LED lights that FX luminare offers, none of the usage or light quality is compromised.  FX did their research and unlike the original LED car lights with the bluish glow, these lights are true to the lighting quality of the less efficient lights.

The FX fixtures also come with several filters to place over the light source, which come standard instead of an add-on like the originals.  This makes it easier to play around with how the different filters can change and add value to the landscape.  Green filters are awesome for making the green leaves on a tree pop.  The blue filter can enhance the color of evergreens.   The frosted option can the features of a house or amber filters can be used on different types of plants to give a more realistic glow.  Two different colors can even be used at one time for multiple effects.  The freedom to try different filters adds creativity to the landscape lighting and new ideas are being tested all the time by landscape designers as they become more familiar and comfortable with the effects.

This year I was able to try the FX system out for the first time.  We brought in one of our lighting experts the first installation to make sure we set them up the right way.  From an installers stand point, the installation is a breeze.  With regular low voltage lights, we have to calculate voltage drop.  As a fixture gets further away from the transformer, and as multiple lights are connected using one cable, the light will actually dim.  This is called voltage drop.  Unlike with traditional low voltage lights, The LEDs have virtually eliminated voltage drop because they use such little voltage to begin with.  This means less cable, smaller gauge cable, and smaller transformers which all equals less money to purchase the accessories.

The biggest benefit that my clients have enjoyed is the maintenance side.  I usually suggest changing out light bulbs each year at the same time on regular low voltage lights.  If one light goes out and the rest on the same line remain lit, they will burn out faster.  I have had countless homeowners have one bulb go out, just to have to replace the next one down the line soon after.  What a hassle!  The LED lights don’t light via bulb, but by diodes that make up an LED board and thus do not require light bulb replacement.  The boards and fixtures carry a 10 year warranty.  The boards can be replaced without having to purchase a new fixture.  Depending on the actual fixtures used and the amount, a typical landscape lighting job can pay for itself in just a few years with the energy savings and low maintenance features.  All in all, I expect to be using the LED systems more regularly, especially as the older systems are phased out.

Check out some of these beautifully lit landscapes…


How about lighting a gnarly old tree…


Floating in a pool during an outdoor dinner party…


I love the originality in this.

For more ideas and information on Low Voltage Lighting and the LED options check out www.fxl.com.

Deck the Halls with Holiday Planters

It’s December 6th. Do you know where your level of holiday readiness is? With the unofficial kick off to the holiday season a week and a half past, its easy to worry that there is much to do and little time to do it.

If you wish those strands of twinkling lights would string themselves, here’s a few holiday decorations that make a big impression using a lot of what you already have.  These next few pictures are some holiday decorations done by two of my co-workers for clients of EverGreen Landscape Associates.

photo credit: mickey bittenbender

Mixed evergreens using white pine, blue spruce, serbian spruce, and boxwood. I especially like the use of dried hydrangeas. Another idea is to harvest the hydrangeas in the Fall when they still have some color.

photo credit: kelly potts

Look what can be done using your existing planters, some left over greens from your live christmas tree, or evergreen trimmings from your own backyard.  Check out the red ornaments.

photo credit: kelly potts

Spruce tops can be purchased to give some height to your planters and for volume. It also makes a great shape to adorn with twinkle lights for an evening display.

So if you feel like the clock is ticking a little too fast, winterize your existing planters holiday style.  You can put off lugging it to the garage and deck out the stoop instead of the halls.