Aug. 11 2021 10:26 AM

Work with pros to learn proper landscape lighting.

One way that the landscape and irrigation industry is unique is that there aren’t many other lines of work where you can decide to open up a completely new revenue stream almost on a whim. But that’s how a lot of contractors get involved in opportunities like landscape lighting.

There are a lot of skills that overlap with lighting and irrigation or landscaping. There are specific client goals to meet, but it’s often more an art form than a straightforward science. That said, if you forget the science, you’re likely to run into problems quickly.

Many landscape professionals picked up the job with just a truck and a mower without much direct experience otherwise. When you’re spending so much of your time working just to make ends meet, it’s hard to notice that you’re actually also learning. Over time, you’re teaching yourself what works and what doesn’t. You don’t stay in this business long without doing at least a little bit of that.

With so much of the industry being a self-teaching experience, it’s easy to think that adding another option like landscape lighting shouldn’t be too difficult. And while it’s definitely possible to just pick up a kit and figure it out as you go, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches by taking the time to learn how to do landscape lighting properly before stretching your business to support it.

You probably did similarly with landscaping skills without directly realizing it. Maybe you worked with a boss or mentor who was able to show you the ropes without as much of the personal stress, or you dug into a business or horticultural program in school.

Lighting landscape specialists tell me that often the best way to approach this as a contractor is to reach out to other professionals and do what you can to learn from them. Maybe you can look outside your immediate region to find a new colleague, or get connected through a professional organization like the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals. It might make sense to have a specialist subcontract lighting for you as you learn. That way you see what works for you and have a professional nearby in case you need a hand. Either way, you’re learning.

The day-to-day landscaping life is a school of sorts, but there are all kinds of teachers available to make it easier if you look for them. Just because you can learn by trial and error doesn’t mean you should. Especially with a new potential new revenue stream, that could be a very costly education.