Lighting gives altogether new dimensions to Landscaping. While the external aesthetics of a building gets expression through properly planned Landscaping, Landscaping itself gets further expression by becoming visible and beautified during night time by proper planning and designing of Lighting. In a way, Lighting is essentially required for any Landscape conception. This paper analyses the different lighting aspects which need to be associated with Landscape Planning.
Lighting is like rewriting the landscape on nature’s canvass when sunlight is non-existent. Besides preventing theft etc, Lighting also provides many mesmerizing effects to the building’s green extension called landscaping. Before coming to different aspects of Lighting, broad aspects of Landscaping needs to be understood. Primarily landscaping is Nature’s footprints suitably made or modified by humans as per their needs of habitation to reduce environmental stress arising out of built habitat. These are therefore properly planned giving due consideration to all factors like presence of trees, their sizes, usefulness in providing shelter, absorbing CO2 and noise pollution, shrubs, plants, paths and stairs, Water bodies-Natural or artificial, sitting areas-vast or in small patches, grassy area again vast or in small patches, special areas filled with sand and small stones etc. All such features of Landscaping can be given different lighting treatments to make them visible or prowl in darkness depending on one’s thought process. Thus there can be numerous ways these features can be lit depending upon the imagination of the lighting designer, availability of lighting options, economy/availability of budget etc; however, broadly speaking following Lighting aspects cover the landscape lighting.
Different Lighting Aspects
- Perimeter and wall lighting
- Direct Lighting
- Indirect or Reflected Lighting
- Path Lighting
- Stair Lighting
- Up Lighting
- Down Lighting
- Moon Lighting
These aspects are now covered briefly with real life images for proper comprehension.
Perimeter and Wall lighting
Perimeter lighting is sometimes called the security lighting and is desirable from the viewpoint of security reasons. The choice of lighting depends upon the level of security, type of fencing/boundary, economy of operation and geographical considerations. Many a times the walls are illuminated only from inside to give the features of wall an artistic expression and sometimes these are lit up with focus on outside of the wall/fence. Pole mounted LED lighting with Solar panel on top is an ideal solution but many other variants are also possible depending upon the feasibility and other considerations.
Wall lighting is again writing on the wall with light. The lighting needs to be designed in such a way that the focus of the lighting remains entirely on wall thus highlighting the texture of the wall and features of the stones etc from which the wall has been formed
It is the simplest form of lighting of any landscape and covers the entire area indiscriminately. It may be simply called area lighting and there is no imagination involved in this. Nevertheless, it is sometimes a necessity to give coverage during night time.
The Direct Lighting however involves wastage of energy as the entire landscape is lit up and many useful feature of the landscape may not get highlighted. This form of lighting may therefore be avoided for large landscapes having multiple features like big trees, large sitting areas, multiple water bodies etc.
Indirect or Reflected Lighting
Indirect or reflected lighting gives a soothing effect to the environment as well as visitors and is the lighting obtained through reflection of light from surrounding surface. This gives a pleasing effect because the harshness of light is eliminated due to reflection and is normally provided where bright light is not required. This can come in different shades and colors or combination of these.
This form of lighting also involves wastage of energy and should be employed only in a limited space. Nevertheless the effect is very magical and soothing if properly devised.
Any landscape generally involves pathway for pedestrian’s movement which may pass through the entire area or may be limited to a restricted area. It may therefore be very essential to lit up this path to guide the movement of the people during night time. The lit up path also adds beauty to the entire landscape and should be done with utmost care and imagination. Many choices of path lighting are available and right choice is based on the individuals’s perception, taste and conservation of energy. The lighting can be provided either on one side of the path or on both sides and in zig-zag manner depending on one’s design. These lightings can be provided on small poles called lighted ballards or flush with the ground. It is essential to arrange lights in such a way so as to avoid shadow on the path.
Small footsteps are essential part of any landscape which is not plain but having many levels. Sometimes these steps are part of the path and sometimes they join different levels of the landscape. The creativity of the designer and variety of lighting choices available decide the selection of stair lighting. The right selection of stair lighting blends with the other lit up features of the landscape. It is very essential to avoid any shadow on these stairs to avoid stumbling of the pedestrian.
This form of lighting is generally used to highlight any special object and in case of landscaping, up lighting is provided by fixing lighting fixtures in the ground and focusing towards the object to be highlighted. In case the object is large enough the number of up lights may be more to provide various viewing angles. In a landscaping generally large trees are up lighted to highlight their expression in the landscape.
Down lighting provides a very mesmerizing effect if taken up with due care. In this form of lighting, fixture is normally mounted on the tree itself or on a pole nearer to the tree and is focused downwards. The lighting effect generated is very pleasing if done properly. Lighting of different shades and color can be used in this type of lighting.
This form of lighting is generally used for showing something as a dark shape and outline against a brighter background. In case of landscaping this form of lighting is generally used to highlight stem of a tree which is very prominent or some other feature of the landscaping which is prominent enough to be highlighted in a reverse manner i.e. back ground is illuminated while the feature to be highlighted is in shadow of this illumination. Silhouetting thus provides a very interesting type of lighting particularly in landscape lighting design.
Beautiful shadow effects can be provided by this form of lighting which provides altogether a different effect.
Moon lighting is the mimicking effect of landscape lit up by moon light. Thus a white light piercing through the trees can give the effect of moon lighting. A single white light standing high on a pole above the tree lines can duplicate this effect.
It is one type of outdoor lighting for highlighting beautiful or unique textures or irregular surfaces. Bark on trees, Stones of the wall and fountains including water bodies can be lighted up by using this form of lighting. Grazing works very well on natural stone or wood; duly emphasizing the unique textures and the detail of the material. The weathered surface of stone is particularly suited for this form of landscape lighting, creating little shadows in the natural indentations of the rock and highlighting raised areas. Even simple concrete walls look more interesting as grazing accentuates its rough surface.
By this effect, any surface or feature can be lit up with lights to give the effect of washing. There can be single color washing or washing with different colors. All options are available now.
There can be numerous other effects and techniques which can be used creatively for landscaper lighting. However, above mentioned effects provide a useful guide for the design of landscape lighting with associated advantages and limitations. In fact, it is not the lighting but the effect, lighting provides to the landscaping is important and is the result of many permutations and combinations, trials and errors and also the outcome of one’s imagination and ingenuity.
Role of New Technology in Landscape Lighting
New technology can play a very crucial role in giving new and different dimensions to the lighting. Already LED lighting has demonstrated the variety of effects and shades available at the command of the designer. If equipped with suitable controls, switching on and off can also be achieved automatically as per set time or occupancy for energy conservation.
Lighting in landscape enhances the effect of landscaping many times during night besides providing visibility to move around. People wish to see everything not only in the sunlight but after sun light also. This compels the landscape designer to take care of this care important aspects i.e. lighting in landscape. It is also preferable to use LEDs for this purpose because LED comes in different colors around 30000 plus and have a long useful life over other types of lamps. Moreover, LEDs are low voltage devices thereby problem of shock to the human beings and the birds etc can be avoided. LEDs are available in two variants i.e. wide angle and narrow angle beam to give different lighting effects to the green features of the landscape.
It is also suggested to have different combination of lighting to provide wide range of choices to the user to suit the mood and preventing monotony. New Technologies like IOT and Artificial Intelligence which are emerging vary fast can also play a very crucial role in Landscape Lighting. The of solar tree can also provide the dual purpose of harnessing solar energy and expression of Nature through man-made electromechanical tree giving power and reducing CO2 emissions.