How To - Outdoor Accent & Tree Lighting

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Jeff Wonsetler
ALA Specialist at Lightology

23 years as a Lighting Specialist
Phone: (312) 229-7431
Fax: (312) 254-0195

Landscape Accent Lighting: How to Highlight Trees or Other Features in Your Yard

Accenting Trees with Exterior Landscape Lights

As an example, let's think about outdoor accent lighting for a tree of average size. If you are highlighting the tree from one side only, I recommend using 1-2 landscape light, spot fixtures. Place each fixture about a foot away from the tree.

To highlight the trunk, select bulbs with a tight, 10° - 15° beam spread. To highlight the tree's branches and foliage, select bulbs with wider "flood" beam spreads. You can even combine different beam spreads to capture the best features of a full tree.

If you have a very large tree and you want it to appear lit from all sides, I would use 3-4 landscaping light fixtures. Remember that these are guidelines. Experiment to determine what treatment works best for your area!

Landscape accent lighting fixture

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Illuminating a Statue or other Prominent Garden Feature with Exterior Accent Lights

For a statue or other similar type feature, you may want to try a three-point accent lighting technique to control shading and shadows produced from direct lighting, also known as the "Frankenstein Effect".

To do this, a "key light" shines directly onto the subject from the front, at roughly a 45 degree angle from direct center. A second "fill light" also shines onto the feature, but from the opposing 45 degree angle. A third "back light" shines on the subject from behind as well.

Ideally, it is best to have these outdoor accent lights illuminate the subject at an angle 30 degrees from directly overhead. If you can hit that angle, great! If not, then do the best you can.

Product Recommendation:

Hardy Island MR16 Exterior Accent Light by Hinkley Lighting My personal recommendation for a project like this is the Hardy Island MR16 Exterior Accent Light by Hinkley Lighting. The matte bronze finish and tapered form blends well into almost any exterior environment.

Bulb Selection Tip

Soraa LED outdoor lights

Like color temperature, you can find the beam spread for a lamp listed on its packaging. Also, you can accomplish this look without consuming a great deal of power. If you select Halogen/Incandescent fixtures, 20 watt lamps will provide ample light output. If you select LED fixtures, 10 watt lamps will work fine.

Hardy Island MR16 Exterior Accent Light by Hinkley Lighting Moreover, it accepts both halogen and LED MR16 lamps. In particular, the new line of Outdoor LED MR16 lamps from Soraa offers the ability to control light with simple magnetic filters that "snap" to the front of the lamp itself.

Other Product Recommendations:

BL616 Aluminum Bullyte with Mounting Stake by Hadco
BL616 Aluminum Bullyte with Mounting Stake

Takes Soraa Outdoor LED bulbs
Hardy Island MR16 Exterior Accent Light by Hinkley Lighting
Hardy Island MR16 Exterior Accent Light

Takes Soraa Outdoor LED bulbs

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How-To: Landscape Lighting

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How-To: Deck Lighting

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