Add dramatic appeal to your landscape lighting with these tree-lighting ideasLandscape tree lighting is always a hot topic at Christmas time, but the fact is that outdoor tree lighting is a critical component of nearly all professional landscape lighting plans. Lighting your trees can add beauty and drama to your home or business curb appeal, distinguishing it from others, and even increasing its value. In this article, we’ll dive into some fundamental landscape tree lighting design principles, concepts, and ideas to help you make your outdoor tree lighting look amazing. Although landscape tree lighting might seem simple at first, the truth is that it is anything but. You should always use a professional lighting contractor to help you plan and implement your tree lighting design. At Pro Lighting Outdoors, we know. We’re experienced local outdoor lighting experts for Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Nocatee neighborhoods. Landscape lighting is especially popular in Northeast Florida due to the temperate climate that allows us to enjoy outdoor living nearly year-round. Naturally, tree lighting is one of our specialties and something we’ve been doing for years. There are many variables to consider with regard to both residential and commercial tree lighting. This includes what kinds of trees are being lit, where they are located, their height, what the lighting is being used for (creating an accent, focal point, lighting a path, etc.), and what kind of aesthetic style the property owner is trying to achieve with their overall lighting plan. Take a look at some outdoor tree lighting examples by Pro Lighting Outdoors!
The Types of Trees You Are LightingThe kinds of light fixtures you use will be dependent in part upon the types of trees you are lighting as different kinds of trees call for different techniques. Deciduous trees like Oak, Maple and Beech have large broad leaves that fall at the end of each growing season. Coniferous trees like Pine, Spruce, Fir, Cedar, and Juniper are evergreen, have needles, and typically, have a more conical shape. Trees with more of an open structure can be lit closer to the trunk of the tree so that the light can illuminate the interior of the branches. Denser may need to be lit from further outside the canopy so that the light shines on more of the tree.
Uplighting vs. Downlighting TreesOne of the biggest decisions when lighting trees is deciding whether to uplight or downlight them. Uplighting a tree is a great way to create a dramatic effect and a focal point within your landscape plan. Downlighting a tree, by contrast, is more subtle. It can be used to light the trunk, a pathway, a bench, or a gazebo below the tree canopy, or otherwise just create a warm inviting space. Sometimes, using both techniques is necessary.
Size (& Shape) MatterWhen uplighting trees, again, depending upon what kind of tree you are lighting, what kind of shape it has, and how broad its canopy is, you will want to employ different design strategies. Smaller deciduous trees may require a single 35° angled spotlight shining up the base, or a medium tree, two smaller 35° angled accents positioned on either side of the tree. A larger deciduous tree may require two 40° angled accents on the ground with another light placed inside the canopy. Conifers, by virtue of their “upside down cone” shape may also require lights placed on either side of the tree but with the lights set at 60° angles. When downlighting a space, you don’t always have to use a tree. You can attach downlighting to any kind of structure, such as a pergola or gazebo. However, using downlighting in a tree produces a beautiful effect to create beautiful, inviting outdoor spaces. Typically, you will want to identify a large, tall tree. Then place accent lights a few feet above the lowest tier of branches (ideally about 20-25 feet above the ground and 4-5 feet above the lowest branches). If you have a very tall tree, it is possible to create a nice moonlight effect with your lighting.
Low Voltage Tree and Landscape LightingAlthough it may not always be the case for commercial applications, for most residential tree and landscape lighting projects, low-voltage landscape lighting is usually the best choice. Low voltage LED lighting not only looks warm and elegant but also costs less to operate and is easier to maintain (longer-lasting when compared with outdated incandescent and halogen lighting).
Beam Spread, Lumen Output & TemperatureOf course, even when opting to go with a low-voltage system, there are variables to consider, such as the intensity, color and temperature of the bulbs, as well as the spread of the beams. What kind of effect are you trying to achieve with your overall lighting plan? Warm and intimate? Natural? Splashy and eye-catching. As we mentioned earlier, different types of trees, their sizes, density, and height will all play a role in these decisions.
Specialty Outdoor Tree & Landscape LightingFinally, think about how you might decorate your trees and adjoining areas to make your landscape stand out. Ideas include:
- Use string lights (aka fairy lights) draping them from tree-to-tree, across pergolas and above patios to create charming outdoor gathering spaces.
- Use white LED mini-light strands in trees to further complement the hanging string lights. Landscape and tree lighting contractors in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and other areas of Florida see this regularly. Here, it’s Christmastime year ‘round for many!
- Hang mini-lanterns from trees to create similar but different outdoor sanctuaries.
- Use color-changing lights to create different moods.
- Light your potted trees. Lighted trees don’t have to be in the ground, only. You can use accent light for your potted trees and other plants, as well. Oversized pots work great for this.
- Create or add a statement tree. Create a dramatic focal point using a large tree or one that is positioned conspicuously within your landscape.
- Utilize contemporary specialty outdoor light fixtures to set your trees and outdoor landscapes apart. Think orbs, lanterns, pendants, spike lights, etc.