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The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting for Your Pond and Water Feature

Planning and keeping a water feature takes a lot of work. It takes a vision to create, lots of preparation to build, and time to maintain. But in the end it's all worth it. The soothing sound of a babbling brook, the turning of water, the serene setting it creates amplifies the enjoyment we find in our landscapes. The big question I have is what happens to that water feature after sundown?

Most everyone finds their days filled with work and tasks that need to be accomplished before heading home. It usually isn't until later in the day when people have a chance to unwind and enjoy their water features. If the pond has become a ritualistic part of your routine, a serene characteristic of your landscape, then why not extend that enjoyment into the evening?

You've already created a beautiful water feature that you get to enjoy during the day. Why not take the opportunity to create a dramatic sight for your evening enjoyment as well? Pond lighting is the way you can keep your water feature from having to go to bed when the sun does. 

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Things to Think About When Lighting Your Water Feature

When doing water feature lighting, whether it be a pond, water garden, waterfall, fountain or any combination, take into consideration what will work best for the immediate area surrounding your water. Water vegetation, pond life, and statuary forms are all a part of the overall water feature. In order to really capture your water feature in the best light (no pun intended) your low voltage lighting system needs to capture important aspects in the whole composition. 

Types of lighting categories that can be used include down lights, submersible lights, underwater up lights, wash lights, and path lights. These lights are defined by their effect and usage: 

  • Down Lights - As a light source, they originate from above the water feature creating a soft and diffused light. They simulate the light of a full moon. 
  • Submersible Lights - To light the pond with a mystical aura both above and below the pond surface. They highlight the pond life and underwater statuaries with a warm glow. 
  • Underwater Lights - Water proof lighting fixtures provide up-lighting to highlight pond lilies and water falls. They can be placed under a waterfall or stream to enhance the flowing waters. 
  • Wash Lights - These fixtures can be used to cast a gentle light over tall grasses and other vegetation surrounding the water feature. 
  • Path Lights/Area Lights - To illuminate flowerbeds and other ground cover surrounding the pond area, these fixtures help add depth and character. 

Purposeful Fixture Placement

Light with Purpose - The big secret to lighting is to design with light, not fixtures. Before doing anything you will want to recursively ask yourself a question: "Why light?" What do you want to capture with light? It's only after figuring this out that you will decide the appropriate fixture and placement. For example, if you have a beautiful ornamental Japanese Maple tree with branches spread out over the waterfall, how will you light it?  

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Ideally you'd like to light it from below, but the water feature is in the exact spot the fixture should ideally go. Is it possible to down light that Japanese Maple, or use an underwater fixture? 

If these options are exhausted, avoid the temptation to try and light that tree from behind. While lighting from behind might conceptually seem like  a great idea, remember that lighting from behind will ensure that the lighting effect is often obscured, and very likely to blind the onlooker with glare. Always consider the viewing angles, where you will be observing. 

These are all matters you will encounter when trying to create a balanced lighting effect. This is why it's important to continually ask yourself how things will play out with your fixture placement. 

Have Fun

Having fun with your approach will help you to get in the right mind set. Get a flashlight and try different things at night; have fun seeing how things look when they are lit from different viewpoints. Imagine your flashlight is the fixture: see how you like the play of the angles and shadows when lit from different places. You can even use a piece of paper over the flashlight to get an idea of what a softer light would look like. In the excitement of it all, be careful that you don't get carried away and try sticking your flashlight in the water unless it's water proof. For those with no experience in lighting design this fun exercise may be useful. 

People add water features for the benefit of tranquil sound and for the visual appeal moving water provides. Illuminating the serene setting a water feature creates will ensure that it can be enjoyed no matter if it's day or night. 

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To learn more about how to light your pond or water feature give us a call at (801) 440-7647 to schedule a free consultation, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form.

Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah serves throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis and Utah Counties. Our Outdoor lighting portfolio includes projects throughout Utah and beyond.  

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