Pro Landscaper October 2019 Lighting The Way

Posted by Emma Martyn on


Lighting paths and walkways within gardens visually connects different areas and allows for the safe navigation through the landscape. When soft lighting is added to paths – coupled with the surrounding lighting of trees, shrubs and sculptures – the user is encouraged to be drawn along the pathway to a destination, or for a scenic stroll along a looped path.

Path lighting can be implemented in several ways, from traditional raised pole mount spread lights to recessed path lights, The most unobtrusive and natural way is by means of downlighting from overhanging trees and structures.

Pole mount spread lights provide a pool of downward glare-free illumination to paths and low-level planting, whilst recessed hardscape path wash lights are more favourable for high traffic areas where pole mount fittings could become damaged. Mounting fittings high in overhanging trees will always provide a wider coverage of illumination and can create interesting moonlight shadowing through foliage within the tree canopies.

When lighting paths, ensure there is an even amount of light along the entire path, as spotty dark areas can leave the user feeling disorientated and uncomfortable, whilst also hiding potential obstacles, such as uneven paths due to tree root growth. Also, ensure the surrounding landscape along the path is lit sufficiently, Highlight specimen trees and sculptures – these localised focal points need to be at a higher brightness level than the path itself. Illuminating various features along the path sides adds interest and assists in drawing the viewer further along the path.

If a path is flanked by a wall or raised bed, light fittings can be mounted to the surface or recessed to provide illumination for the pathway. Surface mount wall lights placed higher up the wall will create light for the path 


and provide a wash of down light. This is especially effective if the wall is a feature wall that offers interesting texture.

Another effective way of providing illumination to a path is by means of reflected indirect light, This can be achieved by carefully lighting the surrounding features and landscape with brighter output lamps or fittings. This type of lighting will only be effective if sufficient features have reflective surfaces.

Pole mount spread lights are the simplest to install and can be mounted in numerous ways to create varying effects. This type of light fitting can be mounted on one side of a path if the path is not too wide and will provide the most pleasing and even illumination. Remember to use a pole with suitable height as this will affect the size of the pool of light produced. The shorter the pole, the smaller the pool of light.

Placing fittings on either side of the path should be carried out especially for wider paths,

These should be at set distances apart and staggered and alternated for the desired effect, but pay particular attention to overlap light pools from each fitting.

Commercial grade bollard-type fittings can offer a more robust solution and cover anything from a full 360° of illumination to a focused beam of light similar to adjustable spotlights. Commercial grade fittings tend to be larger in size due to their need to be robust or vandal proof, but look for products with suitable glare control available – otherwise, they will become the main focal point.



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