There’s no better way to extend your time enjoying your Suburban Chicago backyard than with residential landscape lighting.

As the sun sets, your pathways, patio, and entertaining nooks illuminate with a warm glow that says, “Stay awhile.” And who are you to resist the call? It’s summer after all. You do deserve some time to relax and unwind, embracing warm evenings in the outdoors.Landscape lighting for pathway

If you’re looking to light up your nights, you may want to grab some fixtures and get this party started. But you’ll want to stop right there and read on first. There are some common pitfalls you’ll want to avoid when it comes to landscape lighting design.

Landscape Lighting Design Mistakes

There are some fundamentals one must follow when lighting up a landscape.

We’re not trying to say you can’t have some fun, but residential landscape lighting is like painting a picture. Similar to brushstrokes in the right places, you want to cast light in the right directions and in the proper way to bring visibility to the right areas.

You don’t want to blind people or create light that doesn’t actually suit your functional purposes of safe passage and a welcoming atmosphere.

To help you achieve your vision, here are 5 landscape lighting mistakes you should avoid and how to prevent them.Aerial view of landscape lighting

1. Blinding Lights

Unlike the popular song by The Weekend, lights that blind someone in the landscape are never trendy. Unfortunately, it happens often.

Never place light sources where they point directly at eye level. In-your-face lights cause discomfort to passers-by. This also obscures their vision, defeating the purpose of directing them along a path.

You can avoid direct glare with spotlights and floodlights that have glare shields. A professional residential landscape lighting designer can also position lights in a way to avoid this blinding effect.Glare shields on pathway lighting

2. The Airport Runway

Lights along your outdoor pathways should never line up in symmetrical, straight rows like you’re trying to land a Boeing 747.

The idea is to position landscape lights in more of a natural zigzag pattern, alternating from one side of the path to the other. If your path curves, you want your lights to follow that natural movement, accentuating the twists and turns.

Residential landscape lighting should guide you along the path. The goal is to see the path first, not the lights.Pathway lighting

3. Using the Wrong Lights for the Space

Just like you want to put sun-loving plants in sunny spots and shade-craving plants under the safety of your trees, there is a similar strategy for lights. For example, narrow paths require smaller fixtures.

You also want to consider your home architecture. Light fixtures should blend into the space. A modern home pares best with classic light fixtures, while an old world home may look best with lighting that has antique color or appearance. A home with decorative touches can mesh with lighting that has a similar touch.

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Landscape lighting mistakes can also happen when you don’t use the right type of light for the purpose. Spotlights should highlight individual objects or areas, for instance, and floodlights illuminate larger areas of landscape beds or walls.uplighting on trees

4. Leaving Out Sections of Your Yard

When you look at your home from the street, you want to see a balance of light across your landscape. The right side shouldn’t be brightly lit, while the left side is left dark.

This doesn’t mean they need to match exactly. However, trees or columns that are lit up one way on one side of the yard should be lit similarly on the other for a cohesive landscape lighting design.Symmetry with lighting is key

5. Too Much Light

A little light can create the perfect feeling in your outdoor space, guiding people where they need to go and casting a cozy ambiance. But too much light is a landscape lighting mistake that ruins this perfect picture. You’re not looking for fluorescents here; you want something that feels natural.

Think of the light that the moon casts -- it’s just enough. Choose lower levels of light, while also accomplishing the goals of safe passage and inviting aesthetics.Aesthetically pleasing landscape lighting

Light Up Your Nights … the Right Way

The purpose of lighting up your Suburban Chicago landscape is not to create worry, trip hazards, or add something to your to-do list that you are constantly fiddling with.

A thoughtful landscape lighting design should be driven by the light, not the fixtures. There should be some experience and creativity put behind the planning and placement of the lights.

Outdoor illumination is an art. If you’re overwhelmed with this concept, it’s OK. It takes quite a few years of working with light to really understand how to create the right balance -- not to mention also getting the electrical components installed correctly.

Don’t sweat it. If you want light and don’t know how to do it right, KD Landscape can help. We have experts who design and install high-end landscape lighting and can give your yard just the right amount of glitz and glow that fits your unique space and budget.

Ready to see how KD Landscape can help you enjoy your landscape beyond sunset? We’d love to share our design and installation expertise with you. Get started today with a free consultation. Together, we can prepare a plan that works best for you.

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