You’ve just finished a huge landscaping job for busy clients. Yes, it’s been a long haul, but more importantly, they are happy with what you’ve done and the quality of your work. What if there was a way to add a finishing touch? Just one more thing that would be the icing on the cake, maybe something that could add hours for your clients to enjoy the beauty of their landscape. That thing exists; it’s called landscape lighting.
If you’ve never considered lighting a yard, take a moment to think about all the benefits, especially for those busy clients who leave their home at dawn and don’t get back until dusk. Landscape lighting lets them enjoy their landscape every evening, not just on weekends or the rare ‘staycation’. It adds safety around the rocks and hardscape, and highlights a water feature, showcasing all that work you did. In addition, it can deter prowlers.
If you’ve put off installing landscape lighting because of your concerns about the complexity and danger of working with electricity, relax.
“It’s really not that difficult,” says Scott Keener of Keener Landscaping Inc., in Orrville, Ohio. “Now they have quick-connect options, so that you don’t even need to have much electrical experience, and it’s low voltage, so there’s no getting shocked, or anything like that,” he said.
The best way to get comfortable with lighting design is to try it out. Get a demo kit of eight or ten fixtures from your distributor, and mess around with it in your backyard. Try your hand at uplighting, downlighting, silhouetting and moonlighting. “There are about 13 different lighting techniques, and once you understand one, two, or even three of them, you can pretty much light up any job,” said Cruz Perez, vice president of sales and marketing for Vista Professional Outdoor Lighting in Simi Valley, California.
Try to visualize how the area will look in the fall or winter. See how the light plays on different surfaces, and how wide and narrow beams in the same spot produce different effects. “When you go out and set up lighting, the first thing you’re looking for are focal points,” said Cody Tobias, of Landscapes by Jeffery in Westlake Village, California. “That’s your base.” His company got into lighting after seeing the shoddy work that resulted from contracting those jobs out. Now Tobias is the company’s lighting specialist, a title he’s happy to have.
The good news is that much of the information for installing landscape lighting is readily available, usually at no charge. Most distributors and manufacturers of outdoor lighting products provide some sort of initial training, and partnering with them can be a great move. “What good manufacturers will do is give a basic introduction—these are the components, this is how you design it, this is how you install it, this is how you maintain it,” says Perez.
Once you have your training and you’re somewhat comfortable, start cross-selling to your client base. Install a demo kit on the lawn of your best customer for a couple of nights. If they like it, lighting their front yard will be an easy sell, and if they don’t, no harm, no foul.
Most manufacturers will offer to go out to the first couple of jobs with you, to check your work and make sure you’re comfortable with it. Tobias asks for a representative from the manufacturer to come check his work every time. “Sometimes they’ll make changes, sometimes they won’t, but I have the company backing me all the time, which is great for me,” he says.
The best part is that sales serve as advertisements to everyone who lives nearby. “Every installation presents an opportunity in a neighborhood,” says Brandon Stephens, president of Nite Time Décor, based in Lubbock, Texas. “You can pursue all of the other households in the neighborhood; they have a professionally completed installation to look at right there.” Anyone ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ will start looking at their own yard with fresh eyes.