What to Avoid: Common DIY Landscape Lighting Mistakes

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Mitchell

Mike Mitchell is an award-winning deck builder and designer who specializes in urban decking, transforming cityscapes with his creative constructions. He is a second-generation deck builder.

Table of Contents

Properly installed landscape lighting is one of the best ways to make your outdoor living area not only more usable but also more beautiful. It can also boost the safety of your yard and make your home more welcoming after dark. Before you get started on your DIY landscape lighting project for your Frankfort home, make sure you take note of these common mistakes to avoid.

1. Not Starting With a Plan

You might think you have all the details for your landscape lighting project in your head or that all you need to do is drop a few lights along a pathway and call it a day. However, the right lighting scheme that properly highlights the best areas, illuminates dark corners and safely lights up the walkways needs a little planning.

If you’re committed to installing outdoor lighting yourself, be sure to take some time to research the various options and fixture types. Think about what your favorite features are, where safety concerns may be, and where you would like to add useable space after sundown. Then, map out a plan so you can start getting your shopping list together.

2. Not Enough or Too Much Lighting

While the amount of lighting to add will ultimately come down to your personal preferences and how you want to use your space, there is a balance to be achieved to get the best results. Too much bright lighting can reduce the ambiance of a pleasant evening or even create a blinding effect. Too little lighting, and you won’t attain the look you were after or improve the safety of the area as intended.

A good idea is to start with the main features and fixtures—for example, walkways, patios, and a few spotlights—and see how it looks. It’s usually easier (and less costly) to make additions rather than subtractions, especially once you have your main pieces in place.

3. Choosing the Wrong Fixtures

Lighting may seem like a straightforward venture, but the truth is that there is a vast assortment of fixture types, each with a different purpose. Some lighting is intentionally dim or small and meant to provide a soft glow, while others are very bright. Some types are meant to be directed downward; others are pointed up.

Chances are if you’re seeking a specific effect with your lighting, there is a fixture designed to deliver it. Take the time to understand the fixture types and how they will work with your plan so you can choose your lights accordingly.

4. Avoiding LED Bulbs

LED technology has come a long way in recent decades and failing to choose this option is likely to bring some regret in the long run. Many homeowners mistakenly avoid LEDs because the cost of the bulbs is a bit higher upfront. A major landscape lighting project can have a long list of necessary bulbs, so cutting costs here can seem like the right move.

However, the long-term energy savings from LEDs far outweigh the upfront costs. Plus, modern LED lights and lighting kits can often be connected to smart home devices for additional features.

5. Skipping Automation

Speaking of smart home devices, skipping automation options is another common mistake. While it’s probably not a big deal to flip the switch to turn on a porch light, it’s another thing altogether to manage a full landscape of lighting.

In most cases, homeowners like to have a basic set of lighting that comes on at dusk every day. These include lighting for walkways, entryways, and areas surrounding the home where safety may be a concern or where specific features should be highlighted. Then, the rest of the lighting, such as patios, decks, or surrounding a fire pit, can be turned on as needed.

Many lighting systems also include the ability to control the lighting using a smartphone app that’s easy to install, and some even have interesting features such as color control or coordination with the music.

Managing Expectations

One of the most important things to remember when planning your lighting installation is to have the right expectations for your yard and budget. Basic lighting is usually quite affordable, but the more you add or the more features you want to include, the higher the budget. Be sure you clearly understand the cost of your plans, and consider implementing them in phases if the overall project is too expensive.

Lastly, it’s always ok to admit when you’re in over your head and contact landscape lighting designers who can help you create a plan, determine a budget, assemble the lights, and implement your plan expertly so you love the results.