Enhance Your Landscape by Lighting it Right

Many of us who own a home have put some work into making our front or back yard look nice because it is what people see most.

It seems an extension of ourselves, so we put plants, trees, and paths in the ground, perhaps place statues, arbors and other ornamentation.

However, without proper consideration for outdoor lighting, all that work can wash into obscurity as the sun falls. As artists know, lighting is a crucial element of the visual effect of an object.

Here are some lighting techniques that can give your hard work its due recognition by bringing objects in your yard to life.

Up Lighting

If vegetation is a prominent feature of your yard, you may want to start with up lighting. This technique is often used to accent the lower part trees or plants or sometimes an arbor or covering. The effect is achieved typically by placing a spotlight or floodlight on the ground and aiming it either directly up or angled up toward the object of interest.

Down Lighting

Essentially the opposite of up lighting and often called “moon lighting,” this technique accents the higher parts of the object and also casts distinct shadows on the ground.

It involves either mounting the light above an object or high within the object (typically a tree in this case). It is called moonlighting because it is often used to mimic the celestial object by not only softening the light with the obstruction of foliage, but also drawing attention to the branches shadows cast on the ground.

This can often create the most beautiful aesthetic in a yard.

Silhouette Lighting

This technique is used to dramatic effect by placing the light behind the object and projecting toward the front, creating a silhouette of the object.

This is typically done next to a background fixture such as the house itself or sometimes a fence as it enhances the overall aesthetic of that fixture.

Keep in mind that what you are really bringing out in the object is its shape, so you may want to consider another technique if you would rather bring out its color and texture.

Shadowing

Opposite to silhouette lighting, this type of lighting points the light toward your object from the front, which means that the light will probably be on the ground and angled up. This has the benefit of bringing out all the detail of the object, but the focus is on casting an artful shadow on a backdrop.

Grazing Light

A slight variation of these other types of lighting (typically up lighting or down lighting), this technique is used to accent marginal features of an object.

Though it involves more careful angling, the idea is to touch the edge of an object so that you are highlighting an object in such a way that it brings out elements of texture as well as shape of the object.

This is great when you are having trouble figuring out which element of the object you like more.

Applying one or more of these techniques in your yard can make a big difference.

If you having a hard time coming up with a good setup, one thing you can do is get a good hand held spotlight (preferably cordless) and experiment with the different lighting techniques. If you like what is in your yard, chances are you’ll find a fresh way to enhance its appeal with light.

Ross Donald is a freelance writer and has always loved anything to do with houses, homes and humble abodes. He’s a stay at home dad, a blogger and a chronic DIY’er.

Adding a Little Sound and Feng Shui To Your Landscape

chimesWhen designing your landscape, it’s important to think not only about stuff like:

  • your budget
  • what size plants to get
  • irrigation
  • trees

… you know, “stuff”.

It’s also important to think about the feel of your yard, or put another way, the mood. Is it going to be a funky array of colors, sounds, and smell or a relaxing Zen kind of garden?

In this post, I’d like to talk a little about adding sound and mood (or emotion) into your landscape design.

The Wonderful Connection Between Wind Chimes and Feng Shui

Those that purchase wind chimes and hang them in the doorways in their home commonly do so because of their decorative value.

There is just something uniquely appealing to the look of these chimes. Of course, the calming sound they make adds even more to their unique value. Beyond the common aesthetics, are there more benefits that can be gained from the placement of wind chimes.

For those that weave the chimes in with the principles of Feng Shui decor, the results could literally be holistic in nature.

At this point, some might find it incredulous that Feng Shui and wind chimes are capable of working so well together.

How is this possible?

Once you understand the basic principles of what Feng Shui is, you will discover that it might be quite easy to tap into the amazing energy flow Feng Shui manipulates in order to deliver on its holistic merits.

What is Feng Shui?

For those not familiar with the concept of Feng Shui, this is an ancient Chinese method of tapping into the universal life flow energy traveling through the earth. This life flow energy is commonly called Qi (aka Chi) and it flows through the meridian points of the human body.

When Qi flow is blocked, the body can become ill. When Qi flow is enhanced, then the health of the body might be optimized. Most means of cultivating Qi center on breathing exercises, seated and moving meditation, and physical exercises.

Feng Shui takes things into a completely different direction.

The words Feng Shui are translated as “wind-water.”

This refers to the notion that Qi flows freely through the air, but can be trapped in water. Since it is believed Qi is flowing through the air, it becomes obvious how there just might be a solid connection between the placement of wind chimes and the ability to direct external Qi flow from the earth.

The Connection between Feng Sui and Wind Chimes

Before delving into the relationship between Feng Shui and wind chimes, it is important to note there are many different schools of thought when it comes to how the chimes should be used to cultivate Qi energy.

No one, single approach can be considered right or wrong. However, there may be certain strategies that are better for you than others. A little bit of research and trial and error may be required.

Feng Shui commonly revolves around the placement of objects in order to help direct the flow of Qi. So placing items in your garden in specific areas is something you’ll need to do to achieve the proper flow of Qi.

Through effectively placing objects in a set way, Qi energy can be manipulated in a manner that yields the most positive results. While wind chimes are traditional placed in an environment that puts them in the direct path of wind, those hoping to cultivate Feng Shui might put them inside the home in a manner more preferable to working with Qi than the wind.

The prime purpose of mixing wind chimes with Feng Shui will generally be intended to get rid of negative Qi energy.

Contrary to what some might assume, not all Qi energy has a positive effect.

yin-yangKeeping in accordance with the theory of Yin/Yang, positive Qi energy cannot exist unless there is also negative Qi energy.

This does not mean, however, you have to be at the mercy of negative Qi energy. There are ways to address and reverse the presence of it and wind chimes would be the most common way, especially in your overall landscape design.

Specific Strategies to Eliminate Negative Qi Energy In Your Garden

In order to eliminate the negative Qi energy from a home, simply hanging wind chimes in an errant manner will not work.

Feng Shui is all about the deliberate placement of items in the home and garden. Through following along with common, well established strategies, it might become much more likely the chimes do as is expected of them.

The placement of the wind chimes in a northwest direction would be one traditional strategy that can be employed with a metal wind chime. If the chime is made of wood, southwest would be the better direction. Symbols and numbers on the wind chimes will further enhance their ability to deliver results. 6 and 8 would be the best numbers.

buddaSimilarly, there are symbols such as a Buddha or two hearts would be helpful to the chimes.

Looks do count!

And also…

In addition to helping reverse the presence of negative energy from a home and garden, Feng Shui wind chimes can enhance the look of an interior. For many, if the chimes do this, then they have done their job!

Dealing With Small Space Landscaping

Not everyone has the means or desire to own a mansion with a huge backyard that requires full-time maintenance.

There are some of us who either by necessity or desire believe that good things really do come in small packages, including outdoor areas.

Similarly, there are ways to make small spaces look larger than what they really are.

garden-toolsHowever, before suggesting some ways to make your yard look larger than what it is, it is imperative that the yard is neat and orderly as when space is at a premium, every inch is important. Consequently, it is vital that you have some form of outdoor storage for your gardening tools and other items which are often left lying around your yard.

You Have Options

There are different methods of landscaping your garden depending on whether you want your yard to give a feeling of intimacy or an illusion of space. Although most of us will want to make a small space seem larger than what it actually is, there are others who are happy to capitalize on their space limitations.

Picking The Right Plants

For example, for a cozy, intimate feeling, the use of large shrubs and trees that give an almost overbearing feeling. These trees block out views leaving people wondering what lies beyond the greenery. In this instance, it is the next door neighbor. I mean, who likes open yards where people can see right into your house?

Not me!

To make your yard seem larger than what it actually is, long, straight lines are the perfect solution. This provides an illusion for the eye especially when the ends of the lines seem to turn toward each other providing a rounded finish.

Create Focal Points

small-yard-with-focal-point

You can also create a focal point in the garden to draw the eye away from the fact that there are space limitations. With the eye focused on this centerpiece or other point of interest, it draws the eye and mind away from the fact that the space is small.

pergolaThe focal point may be as large as a pergola or arbor or as small as a dramatic piece of garden art.

Whether it is via this garden art or through some other guise such as bright fabric draped across the yard or via a row of brightly colored trees or bushes placed at the front of the yard, it draws the eyes to the dramatic color and away from the fact that the yard is small.

Having a small yard out of necessity does not mean that you are stuck with a small space. With a little planning and thought, a small space can go a long way.

Image Credits: eriesargonaut, tea_time, Field Outdoor Spaces