The Benefits of Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting techniques that respect the night sky

Utah boasts some of the darkest skies in the United States, making it an ideal location for stargazing and taking in the natural beauty of the night sky. In fact, local ordinances are in place to ensure homeowners and businesses are dark sky compliant — so how does that affect your landscape lighting?

At Sunline, we understand the importance of using responsible lighting practices that respects the environment while enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your landscape. In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of dark sky compliance and provide an overview of various types of lighting available, along with their specific applications.

What is meant by “dark sky compliance”?

"Dark sky compliance" means following the principles and regulations outlined in a dark sky ordinance, whose purpose is to minimize light pollution and preserve the natural darkness of the night sky. This typically includes using shielded fixtures that direct light downward, avoiding excessively bright lights and preventing light from spilling into unintended areas or neighboring properties. 

By achieving dark sky compliance, individuals and communities contribute to preserving the visibility of stars, protecting nocturnal wildlife, conserving energy and promoting a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to outdoor lighting.

Benefits of landscape lighting

Landscape lighting offers a host of benefits that elevates your outdoor experience and adds a magical ambiance to your home and property.

  • Enhance aesthetic appeal — Strategically placed lighting highlights architectural features, plants and other landscaping elements, such as water features and sculptures.

  • Create a warm and inviting atmosphere — Lighting adds depth and dimension and helps define outdoor spaces. 

  • Increase safety — Illuminating pathways, driveways and stairs helps you navigate your property safely after dark, preventing accidents.

  • Deter potential intruders — A well-lit property is less likely to be the target of intruders.

  • Extend the time spent outdoors — Improved visibility at night makes it possible to enjoy outdoor activities and gatherings long after the sun goes down.

  • Improve your property value — Great lighting adds curb appeal, enhancing the overall look of your property and differentiating it from others in the neighborhood.

Dark sky-compliant landscape lighting

Adhering to dark sky lighting principles doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a beautifully illuminated landscape. There are many fixtures and techniques you can use to light up your yard while still being dark sky compliant. 

  • Fully shielded fixtures — A fully shielded light fixture is designed to minimize light pollution by directing the light downward, towards the intended area. These fixtures are used to illuminate specific areas or objects, such as pathways, driveways, gardens or architectural features, ensuring efficient and effective illumination while reducing light trespass and glare. 

  • Downlighting — Downlighting refers to the technique of directing light fixtures to cast illumination towards the ground or specific areas in a landscape. These fixtures are often placed in trees, along eaves, atop pergolas or any other elevated feature to light up pathways, outdoor living areas or architectural features. 

  • Motion sensor lights — Using motion sensor lights in landscape lighting improves dark sky compliance by activating only when motion is detected, minimizing unnecessary illumination and reducing light pollution. These lights conserve energy, prevent light trespass into neighboring areas and enhance security.

  • Dimmers and timers — Dimmers allow you to adjust brightness levels, which helps extend bulb life and conserve energy. They also offer customizable lighting for different moods and occasions. Timers automate the operation of lights, increasing convenience and optimizing energy usage. Take it a step further by using smart technology so you can operate your lighting system from your phone.

  • String lights — String lights are an exception to the fully shielded requirement in outdoor lighting regulations and can be used throughout the year to light up decks, porches, and patios. However, it is important to note that string lights can’t be used to illuminate landscaping or outline structures.

  • Use low-wattage bulbs — These bulbs are designed to provide efficient lighting with reduced power consumption compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. Their lower intensity creates a softer and more subtle illumination, contributing to a gentle and inviting ambiance in outdoor spaces. These bulbs also minimize light pollution and light trespass, which is a more responsible and considerate approach to outdoor lighting.

There is an art to lighting up your landscape

Strategically placed outdoor lighting can be used to highlight your home’s unique features and add ambiance to your outdoor spaces — whether you’re spending time with the family, entertaining or enjoying a nightcap on your patio before heading to bed.

More than ever before, people are looking to reconnect with nature by creating outdoor spaces that are extensions of their homes. By adhering to dark sky lighting principles, you can enjoy a beautifully illuminated landscape while minimizing light pollution and preserving the natural environment.

Book a consultation and we’d be happy to show you all the ways you can make your landscape inviting and hospitable — while respecting the beauty of the night sky.