Many outdoor lighting manufacturers have designed very interesting and ornate fixtures.
These range from lanterns to floral and animal-shaped fixtures. It’s very appealing to the eye when we see these fancy fixtures in catalogs or at trade shows.
Still, many lighting designers tend to shy away from them, perhaps because no one is quite sure how or where to install them. Also many of these fixtures are rather fragile due to the amount of glass they contain. But these more ornate fixtures can be used effectively and provide creative options if properly installed and cleverly placed within a lighting plan.
Garden lantern designs are available in ground, hanging and wall-mounted styles and provide great area lighting. They can be used to draw the eye to specific areas and act as beacons for foot traffic. Depending on the application, warmer color temperatures are generally selected for garden lanterns. There are also some new light sources available that simulate flame effects.
When using a ground-mounted style, check to see if the installation will be in a flower bed. This is important to know so you can select the proper ground-mounting device. Keep in mind that a garden hose will most likely be pulled through the bed.
It’s best to keep lanterns back at least 12 to 18 inches from pathways. Reinforcing or changing a ground mount might be required; a good one is a 4-foot-by-4-foot or 6-foot-by-6-foot redwood or pressure-treated lumber post, which can be directly buried and set in concrete. Or you might want to use wall-mounted style lanterns next to pathways.
Floral-style fixtures can provide beautiful, soft down-lighting effects. It’s a good practice to hide these fixtures within longer-leaved plants; as a bonus, the plant itself will be illuminated.
Defined shadows from the plant’s structure will be seen on the ground, creating a nice accent for a flower garden. This style of fixture can also be very effective in larger flower pots.
Try experimenting with different lamp colors or painting the insides of fixtures with highly reflective, colored glossy paint. The white light from the lamp will reflect the color in the cup of the fixture. You can also do this with perforated hanging lamps.
Several manufacturers make fixtures in animal forms — mammal, reptile and even insect-shaped lights. These fixtures are a good option for accenting ivy and stone walls, casting lovely silhouettes of the animal form against walls or onto pathways. I’ve seen talented lighting contractors incorporate animal-shaped fixtures into their designs with terrific results. Try it!
Kevin Smith is the national technical support and trainer at Brilliance LED LLC, Carefree, Arizona, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.