Lighting Your Outdoor Living Space

A drive through your neighborhood probably provides numerous examples of how outdoor lighting can enhance the front of a home. Because deck and patio lighting is often confined to private areas of the lawn, though, it’s not as easily seen from the street. That’s a shame, because outdoor lighting can greatly enhance your outdoor living spaces. Here is an overview of the types of lighting available for your outdoor spaces and some tips for choosing the best ones for your lifestyle.

Patio and Deck Lighting
Most of your outdoor relaxing and entertaining takes place on your deck or patio. Carefully chosen lighting will not only make your outdoor spaces safer and more functional, it will make it more attractive. Most outdoor lighting falls into one of three categories: task, accent, or decorative lighting. The combination of lighting types you choose will depend upon the way you want to use your deck or patio, as well as your own personal taste.

Task Lighting
Task lighting is a great place to start when you are planning your backyard lighting. Although it can and certainly should be attractive, task lighting is used to provide light for practical purposes. Task lighting often uses your home’s electric service for power. Some uses for task lighting are:

Illuminating the area around a grill or other food preparation areas.
• Lighting stairs, ramps, and uneven pathways or surface transitions.
• Light for reading, hobbies, or other work.
• Enhancing your home’s security.

Accent Lighting
Accent lighting enhances and highlights attractive areas of your deck, patio, or landscaping. However, it also helps downplay less attractive areas such as sheds, pool equipment, vegetable gardens, and utility cabinets or poles. Because accent lighting does not have to be as bright as task lighting, it can be solar powered, although many systems are still powered by electricity.

Ways to consider using accent lighting are:

Uplighting or downlighting special landscape features, such as sculptures, trees, or shrubs.
• Playing up your home’s architectural details, such as niches, decorative brick or stonework, bay windows, gables, or decorative door and window trim.
• Defining the borders of level, evenly paved paths and walkways.

Decorative Lighting
Decorative lighting is often used to create a mood. It has no purpose other than to be attractive. Depending on the decorative lighting choices you make, your outdoor space can be used to incorporate luxuriousness, elegance, or even whimsy into your outdoor areas. Decorative lights are usually not very bright, but fixtures are usually attractive. You have a wide variety of choices when it comes to decorative lighting, and its uses are virtually unlimited. Some uses of decorative lighting are:

Permanent luminaria.
• Tea-sized or larger lights that outline natural borders such as railings, walkways, awnings, and eaves.
• As a complement to accent lighting by creating focal points outside the range of accent lights.
• Suspended from tree branches, patio umbrellas, walls, and privacy fences.

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