Friday, May 30, 2014

Greening Up Your Landscape Lighting

If you are like me, you have always wanted gorgeous landscape lighting but have no shortage of reasons for why it isn't possible. Perhaps you are concerned about additional charges on your electricity bill or wasting energy in general. After all, lighting the inside of your home is necessary, but when the outside world is centered on conservation, lighting up your yard seems frivolous, at best.

Or maybe you've been intimidated by all of the electrical components that must be involved. Surely, just getting the lights in the ground is a DIY feat well beyond the bounds of your skill set, right?

But here's the truth: You can be conscious of the environment, keep your electricity consumption (and bill) exactly where it is and beautify your yard with green living landscape lighting that is just as eco-friendly as it is aesthetically pleasing! And with no wires to attach or cables to bury, simple staked lanterns couldn't be easier to install.

My husband and I have been in the process of remodeling our first home, and after spending over nine months on the interior, we are finally able to take our updating outside! Our front walkway previously boasted large, overgrown and irreparably diseased bushes that we removed and recently patched with a few plots of sod. I am looking forward to the day when the sod spreads and becomes seamlessly integrated into the existing grass and I no longer have to look at sod lines and empty spots.

Originally, I intended on replacing the bushes with another bush or plant, but when I found these fantastic lanterns that coordinate with our updated porch light and garage sconces, I was sold.

In terms of DIY home improvement, this planting project - that literally consists of sticking the stake into the ground - packs a major punch in the d├ęcor department without walloping your wallet or the planet.

Landscape lanterns like these often come in multi-packs: I purchased a set of four and they came in at just over $12 each! They are made of a weather-resistant plastic that has a copper like finish that is indistinguishable from the real thing when viewed from above.

The classic contours of the lanterns make them extremely versatile and allow them to coexist with many different architectural styles. And although I have lined them along the curving front entry leading up to my front porch, they would work just as well along the side of the house or out back around our patio.

Aside from their beauty, let's not forget that the main reason these are so fantastic is their eco-friendliness! These landscape lanterns are Energy Star-compliant and automatically shut off during daylight hours. They are solar powered for environmentally sound operation and use a one-watt LED bulb that is actually included with the set. A single sunny day charge can translate into nine hours of illumination from dusk until dawn. This means that during the night, you have an enhanced yard and enhanced security because prowlers are less likely to gravitate toward a well-lit home.

And while we're on the subject of safety, by installing landscape lights along walkways, especially curved ones like mine, you can ensure greater visibility and reduce the risk of tripping and falling at night. This can become indispensable on nights when you have guests over who will be leaving well after the sun goes down!

Here are a few tips for installing your lanterns:

  • Plan your layout before you stick them in the ground to ensure appropriate spacing and minimize the damage to your yard.
  • Place them close enough to your path to sufficiently light it but not so close that the lanterns become a hazard to passersby.
  • When placing them in the ground, it may help to carve out a little well with a garden spade first.
  • Rather than pushing them in from the top of the light, grab the base firmly and insert the stake into the ground as you might a dagger.
  • Be sure to charge them in the sunlight for at least a couple of hours before their initial use to ensure a good and accurate first impression at dusk.

All that's left to do is sit back and enjoy your new green living landscape lighting! And it's an outdoor lighting scheme that you can be proud of, both in terms of your yard enhancement and in the sense that you are doing your part for the planet.

What style or layout of landscape lighting do you want to incorporate into your green living outdoor spaces?

Rheney Williams lives in Charleston, S.C., and provides DIY advice to homeowners for Home Depot. Rheney has been decorating and redesigning her home over the past year, and has begun working on her landscaping, including outdoor landscape lights. Home Depot's complete selection of landscape lights, including the style Rheney used for her home, can be found on the Home Depot website.

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