Saturday, January 20, 2018

Outdoor Living – Create a Life in the Slow Lane!

June 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog

~ How Does Lighting Enhance your Outdoor Spaces? ~

Contributed by Laura Strathman Hulka

How many times have you desired for life to slow down a bit so you can catch up? Do you have too many tasks to accomplish, people to take care of and events to attend? It seems a sense of overwhelm and excess busyness permeates everything these days. As if the internet highway has taken over every aspect of our lives. Buzz, buzz, buzz, whoosh, whoosh, life is whizzing right by! How about bringing on life in the slow lane instead?

What exactly is “Life in the Slow Lane?” It can be any number of things, but for us, it is a place, a lifestyle, a mood and an expression of self. Yet many of us don’t take the time to explore Life in the Slow Lane! One of the best ways to create it, especially this time of year, is to create outdoor living spaces to enjoy. It gives you a chance to deliberately set aside a place for relaxation, conversation and time away from workday worries.

Here’s a good way to begin creating this outdoor living space ~ begin with a vision. No vision is too big, just allow it to flow from you with a deep sense of “Yes, I can have that!” While considering what you want, also think about what you want your senses to experience while you are in your yard. Are smells, looks, sounds important to you? Let those factors lead the way.

Then focus on one intent, one purpose at a time. For example, what does the lighting look like in your dream yard? Will it be ambient light, subtle, discrete and unobtrusive? Or will it highlight special plantings, meditation areas, social areas or specific activities? Here is an overview of how lighting can bring your yardscape front and center, and give your outdoor living spaces the attention they deserve.

You can easily mix and match lighting types in different areas of your yard. Each area of your yardscape can have its own unique look with the proper lighting. Remember to visit your yard at night to see how a change (or addition) of lighting might work for you. Yard lights not only give homes added safety by brightening dark areas and steps, but they also enhance the landscape by creating shadows and accenting garden areas.

Three basic types of lighting are possible; High Voltage, Low Voltage and Solar. Each has its own value, and the decision may be based on whether you want a Do-It-Yourself project or professionally installed lighting. High voltage landscape lighting systems use a separate electrical circuit and need installation by a licensed electrician. They use more power, but they can also handle more fixtures without a significant voltage drop, if you decide to expand your landscape lighting in the future.

Low Voltage lights are wired to a transformer connected to a home’s electrical circuit. The advantages of a low-voltage landscape lighting system are that it uses only 12 volts of electricity, it’s easy to install, and its lightweight wiring requires smaller ground trenches. Solar landscape lighting systems may not require any wiring at all. They’re environmentally friendly and cheaper to operate, but not very practical in some areas of your yard, or underneath trees and bushes where the sun can’t charge the solar element.

If you are more interested in safety and security, a low voltage system with a motion detector is a good choice. You can also set up lantern-style driveway lighting, for instance, as well as path lighting with low voltage systems. Landscape lighting kits are very comfortably priced, and great for low voltage systems. However, if you want to expand that kind of lighting, you would probably have to buy a bigger transformer and, as trends change in lighting, you might not be able to match older fixtures.

High voltage lighting systems with accent features are great for aesthetic purposes. Flood lights, spotlights, well lights, wall lights and walkway lights can all be used, imbuing your yard with drama and style. Solar lights are perfect for evening parties and social events, as they can provide ambiance and a gentle lighting to enhance the mood.

Whether you choose one system or a combination of techniques, lighting is the base on which your yardscape revolves. You can highlight a statue or plant; lowlight a flowerbed with a series of lights; or accent with scattered lights to create mood lighting. The choice, creativity and variety is up to you, only limited by your own preferences, desires and inclinations. You can create a beautifully lit outdoor living environment that will enhance your yard, and your lifestyle!

Remember the sky is the limit when it comes to creating life in the slow lane. You get to define it and let it unfold. Recognize that lighting plays an important part in that environment, creating the mood you wish to embrace. Don’t forget candlelight, too!

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