April 13, 2017

Using Landscape Lighting to Highlight Trees and Plants

Table of Contents

Good landscape lighting in Oyster Bay, NY is, above all, soft and discreet, creating a relaxing, romantic ambience using as little light as possible. However, certain effects can be used to incorporate highlights into a landscape’s lighting plan. With their natural shapes, interesting lines and rich textures, trees and plants present the perfect objects to emphasize with these sorts of effects. Here we’ll take a look at some of these lighting methods and how you can use them to make your plantlife the centre of attention in an evening setting.


Possibly the most straightforward of the lighting methods used to highlight backyard features. This method makes use of spotlights placed to directly light up an object. These spotlights can be mounted on posts, incorporated into the landscaping or attached to an adjacent feature. This is ideal for lighting up a focal point such as a central shrub, tree or cluster of plants. As with all of the methods mentioned below, playing with the color of the lighting can produce some interesting effects.


Rather than highlighting an object by shining light directly at it, silhouetting highlights an object’s outline using back lighting. This creates a dark silhouette that can introduce a certain level of mystery. Plants or small trees with unusual shapes and interesting branching patterns are ideal for taking full advantage of this effect.


Up-lighting utilizes the basic premise of spotlighting, but includes the drama of a sheer angle, lighting up the underside of branches and foliage. Placed at the base of a tree, up-lighting can also create some stunning textures when used to highlight the trunks of trees with rough bark (known as grazing). Because uplighting is less direct than spotlighting and often incorporates lower voltage lamps, the effect is softer and contributes to a more pleasing ambience.


Essentially the opposite of up-lighting, moonlighting involves placing lighting in a tree or on posts shining down through the trees branches. The resulting effect is similar to moonlight filtering through the foliage. This can be used to create enchanting shadows and a mystical backyard ambience.


The idea of shadowing is to take advantage of the shape or outline of a plant or shrub by projecting it onto the surface behind it. This is perfect for creating visual interest against a plain white background such as a boundary wall or the facade of a home, although other surfaces can also produce some striking effects. Shadowing can be used to repeat a pattern, for example, projecting the shadow of regularly spaced vertically inclined plants to create more fullness in the spaces between them, or make the plants seem larger than they actually are, by projecting the light face on from an angle close to the ground.

Washing and Crosslighting

For a gentle effect, washing can be used to bathe plants, hedges or shrubs in a warm glow. This is done with indirect ambient lighting. Crosslighting uses indirect focused lighting to highlight the textures of object. This is ideal for hedges and other solid surfaces with already rich textures.


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