Pro Landscaper September 2019 Giving Trees the Green light

Posted by Sandra Kapaldi on

WHEN LIGHTING TREES, THERE ARE A NUMBER OF FACTORS TO BEAR IN MIND FOR THE BIGGEST IMPACT – NEIL PARSLOW SHARES HIS ADVICE

Lighting trees is possibly the most rewarding aspect of landscape lighting design, due to the wide variety of trees available within the landscape. With majestic oaks, potted acers, dense evergreens and deciduous trees with translucent foliage available, trees offer a truly diverse way to add cohesion to a lighting scene and can look amazing when lit properly.

Many times I have seen single high wattage flood lights used to light large trees. Although this is a cost effective method of covering a wider area, this tends to produce a flat and bland effect. Also, when compared to the use of multiple spot lights carefully placed in strategic locations around the tree, it does not accentuate the trees shape and form. When selecting suitable trees to illuminate, look for deciduous trees with interesting branch systems as these will look particularly spectacular without leaves during winter.

Installing a combination of spike or recessed uplights with downlights mounted in the trees produces the most desirable effects, coupled with the use of glare shields and hex baffles to reduce unwanted glare.

The uplights can illuminate the underside of the canopies with translucent foliage, permitting light much further into the canopy. Light fittings mounted higher up in the trees can be used to fill the upper parts of the canopy with
light and create balance. Fittings mounted within the trees can also be used as downlights to highlight soft planting or paving below, and downlighting the trunk provides a

TREES OFFER A TRULY DIVERSE WAY TO ADD COHESION TO A LIGHTING SCENE AND CAN LOOK AMAZING WHEN LIT PROPERLY

wash of light on interesting bark textures whilst anchoring the tree to the ground.

Before mounting any light fittings, check locally for any tree preservation orders. You also need to ensure the tree is able to take the weight and shock of equipment being mounted. If possible, avoid using tree straps and mount equipment on the trunk, not branches, as this will reduce the overall stress to the tree.

Anchoring light fittings and cabling to trees can also be achieved with corrosion-resistant 316 stainless fixings and fasteners driven into the cambium and heartwood and will not poison the tree. Specialist dual thread screws, which have a wood screw thread to one end whilst the other is a machine screw, are well suited. For fixing cables, there are exterior grade cable ties designed for use with stainless steel screws – these should also be left with space for tree growth. Cable fixings only need to be placed about every metre, but ensure suitable cable slack is left in place for growth.


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