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Outdoor Lighting Trends: Point of View

Writer Marirose Krall

As Daylight Saving Time comes to an end, we asked outdoor lighting experts about the latest trends in landscape illumination.

Richard Johns
Owner, Décor Smart of New Jersey
Middlesex | 908-322-7300

All-Year Enjoyment
Permanent programmable outdoor lighting in commercial installations has been around for a while; you can see it in any city, where bridges or buildings display different colors depending on the day. Now that trend has come to the residential market. Instead of temporary holiday lighting, homeowners are increasingly turning to light installations that provide enjoyment 365 days per year, with displays geared to holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day or Independence Day or in team colors for sporting events. Installations can range from small, white architectural accent lighting elements to more elaborate displays with varying colors and special effects such as “candlelight” to create distinct moods. They’re easy to use, both manually at home and remotely from an app on a phone.

Permanent lights can be programmed to set a specific mood all year long. | Courtesy of Décor Smart of New Jersey

Mitchell Knapp, President/Owner
Scenic Landscaping
Principal, Tapestry Landscape Architecture
Haskell | 973-435-0581

Outdoor LED
One of the more popular trends we’ve seen is incorporating LED bulbs in outdoor lighting. There’s a new generation of LED lights, and people are finding they’re a very efficient way to illuminate a home’s exterior. It’s changed the whole dynamic of the lighting world. LED lights have many advantages over non-LED bulbs. They’ll last for years, whereas classic incandescent bulbs tend to burn out more quickly; they’re also brighter and are offered in many different tones, which means you can adjust the ambient lighting to your preferences. In addition, they’re very effective at focusing on specific elements of a landscape rather than illuminating a wider, non-defined area. That means that on one property, you can use different lighting levels for the trees behind the house, around the pool and in entertaining areas. In this way, you can create subtle patterns. It’s nice to have that movement of varied light levels flowing through an area.

Illuminating a landscape with LED lighting can help save energy and money. | Courtesy of Scenic Landscaping/Tapestry Landscape Architecture

Vincent Bove | Shaun Thomson
Landscape Designers | By Design Landscapes Inc.
Manasquan | 732-901-5566

Upping Aesthetic Appeal
SHAUN: A current trend is the rise in popularity of exterior lighting itself. Social media has had a profound effect. People see the well-lit homes of influencers and realize how much exterior lighting can enhance the appearance of a home, so they want something similar at their own residences. It’s about creating a “look” rather than just lighting a space. For example, string lighting — with small bulbs strung between trees, decorative posts or on the house itself — can create a really dramatic effect in a backyard. It’s more of a mood setter.

VINCENT: Uplighting is very on-trend for bringing focus to certain elements of a property, such as the interesting branch structure of a particular tree or the appealing silhouette of a house. We’re also seeing more clients illuminating steps, walls, pillars and fireplaces with undermount lights to create a dramatic effect. The idea is always to find new ways to highlight key features in a landscape.

Undermount lights create a dramatic effect on pillars and posts. | Courtesy of By Design Landscapes Inc.

See 9 Ways To Light Your landscape on November 2.