Brighten Your Spring With Landscape Lighting

Yard lighting

In the winter, a lot of people will put money into their spectacular Christmas lighting displays, but what about the rest of the year? Thanks to solar-powered options, landscape lighting doesn’t have to cost as much.

Landscape lighting can be a way to show off your yard’s features, illuminate space for nighttime leisure activities, and it steps up the safety and security for your home.

Lighting your yard can be complicated or easy. It depends on the type of lights you want to use, the coverage each light offers, and the convenience of adding a timer to the lights.

Types Of Landscape Lighting

There are three main types of lighting used in landscape development.

In-Line Voltage Lighting

With in-line voltage, the 120-volt cable is hooked into the garage or house breaker box. Often the line has a light switch or timers installed to control the operation of lights. An 18″ trench is generally dug in the yard to run the conduit for heavy-duty cable.

Adding in-line voltage lighting to your Calgary area home often requires a professional electrician and inspection of the connections. This type of lighting offers more durability than low voltage or solar. It also supports lights with higher voltage ratings. The lights are cheaper to buy but cost a little more to use. You often see in-line lighting used in commercial or industrial settings.

Low Voltage Lighting

Low voltage uses a transformer to reduce 120v current to 12 volts. The transformer is mounted to the outside of the house and plugged into an external outlet. You may already have some electrical plug-ins for seasonal lights.

Still, you may want to install more for areas that are not close to the current outlets if you are using low voltage light systems. The cable comes in various gauges but is usually thinner than in-line lighting cables.

You can bury the wire along the ground or cover it with mulch. Be sure to use wiring rated for outdoors and waterproof connectors. Also, ensure that the wire joints and junctions have additional protection. There are more fixture types available for low voltage and it is easier to install for homeowners. There are often kits for various lighting projects. It is safer because of the lower voltage.

Solar Lighting

Solar lighting has a solar panel built into the fixture that diverts energy taken from the sunlight. The solar energy transfers to the internal battery that comes on when solar energy is low. Maintenance is relatively easy. It is easy to place solar lights around your yard as they are free from a connected wire system. However, they may not be as powerful as wired fixtures. They do need to have the batteries checked and replaced. Sunlight is required for the lights to run optimally, so it may not be effective for shaded areas.

The first step in redoing your landscape lighting is to consider your yard as it is now. Make a sketch and note existing features, outlets and lights. Think about what areas you can improve or highlight in your yard. A fun trick is to take a good flashlight and shine it in various areas to see the difference in how it looks with a little light. But be warned, the neighbours may wonder why you are crouching in the bushes with a flashlight.

Perhaps you want walkway and stair lighting for easier access. You may have a spectacular water feature that would look awesome at night with strategic set up. Or you might have a gnarly old tree that would shine with a few well-positioned lights. Maybe you want your back gates to be lit and monitored for safety and security reasons.

Lamps Plus has a few ideas on how to design the perfect landscape lighting for your yard. Their website is a treasure trove of information and may help with some of your options.

Lighting Ideas

There are many ideas; the hardest part is deciding which ones you want for your yard! On the internet, you can find countless articles on the best landscape lighting ideas. Here are a few resources for you to check out for suggestions:

Choosing The Right Illumination

There are a variety of types of bulbs to use for outdoor lighting. LED or Halogen lights are great for energy efficiency and brightness. Some bulbs give a subdued light and others a brighter, wider spread. There are coloured bulbs that might blend with the exterior of your home. There are even glowing pathway blocks and lights to create that one of a kind look. Wrapping string lights around tree trunks and floodlights can take the eye to an impressive yard feature.

If you are like me and stand for ages in front of the lighting display, trying to pick a bulb, speak with a professional landscape technician. They’ll be able to offer insight on the best buy. Alternatively,  view various lighting articles online.

Reality Check

Consider what you have to spend and whether the project requires an electrician, or if you can install it yourself. Even if you decide the DIY method, consulting a yard specialist or a certified electrician can be a good investment before you begin your project.

Think about whether you have the time and expertise for each option. You may find there is some solar lighting you can handle, but you want to call in a professional for the permanent features. If a total yard makeover isn’t feasible, work on one aspect at a time. Consider ways for attaching future lighting projects.

Early spring is a great time to do the work needed for improving lighting. The greenery doesn’t have leaves to get in the way, and you can dig trenches in the lawn, which will fill in quickly after the lawn starts to green up. Some of the lighting may need adjustment after plant growth to get the best effect. Keep those plants and walkways trimmed, so they don’t overwhelm the light.

If you’re looking to add landscape lighting to your Calgary area home, reach out today ,(403) 971-4422

Plan Ahead For Your Irrigation System

Home irrigation system

If you think it is too soon think about installing irrigation systems or booking your spring setup, think again! Professional irrigation companies will be contacting existing clients and looking for new clients in winter months so they can be ready to work when the frost leaves the ground. Summertime slots book up early, and calling now will give you time to discuss all your plans before contractors get busy again. Some irrigation companies will even do the yard inspection early to get a sense of the project.

So let’s talk about installing a new underground sprinkler system. There are a lot of things to consider before having a system installed. 

Why Install Irrigation Over A Sprinkler System?

  • Irrigation systems meters set the amount of water needed for different areas of your yard. This means focused areas like lawns, shady garden beds, and full sun areas can all get the water they need, nothing more. 
  • It will save you money in water usage. The City of Calgary installs meters that gauge water use for your yard, but it does not charge for wastewater or drainage charges that you might pay using potable water. Irrigation specialists will know how to hook up the irrigation pipes to that meter. While the cost per meter is a little more for irrigation water, the targeted water delivery of an efficient irrigation system will save money in the long run.
  • An underground sprinkler system will preserve the precious resource of water. Using a metered watering system helps conserve water, so each area gets only the amount it needs for lush growth.
  • Irrigation systems are a time and effort saver. Hauling hoses and placing them accurately, so you aren’t watering sidewalks, or the neighbour’s vehicles can be tricky. Irrigation specialists will create zones for your watering plan to maximize water spread while minimizing water wasted. 
  • Convenience is a factor for considering an underground sprinkler system. With the technology available, your system can be set to water when you’re not home. It can even be set to ‘read’ weather patterns and not water when it is raining, for example. Smart apps like ii.ri Smart Control allow you to monitor the process from your phone ask your installer about new tech available for your system.

What Are Things I Should Discuss With An Irrigation Company?

Check out this YouTube feed for an overview of what goes into planning and installing a residential irrigation system. Viewing the feed might generate some questions to discuss with the irrigation installation contractors you contact.

A few suggestions are:

  • Your yard size
  • Whether different areas in the yard are sunny or shady
  • Are there areas with decks, sidewalks or driveways that don’t need water
  • Are there any big trees that might affect the sprinkler stream
  • What areas are for the gardens or lawn, or if you want to xeriscape
  • Pipes & head sizes
  • Position of the sprinklers 
  • Places for a monitor & meter connection
  • Watering schedules
  • Spring & fall maintenance programs
  • Cost of the system
  • Qualifications of the installers

Can I Do The Installation Myself

It is possible to install an irrigation system yourself, however, a professional will have the expertise that can only be found with years of experience. 

You can speak with an irrigation specialist to see if you have the skills to do the job yourself. Don’t jump in and spend money on supplies, only to find you need help to make the system work. 

An irrigation system is complicated, so getting the right pipe and wiring is essential. There are all sorts of joints needed for the piping system, and most municipalities require backflow precautions. Preparing the yard for the system layout and making sure the water flow is adequate to feed the head setup is also crucial. 

Digging trenches and preparing them for piping can also be a labour intensive job, so if you have physical limitations, it might be best to contract the work to a professional irrigation contractor. They will have the tools necessary to ensure limited disturbance. They also have the appropriate equipment to ready the lines for spring and winter. 

Calling a professional irrigation company will save you time and give you peace of mind that the job was completed well. Reputable companies will warranty their work, so make sure to include warranties in the contract.

How Should I Prepare For An Irrigation System Set Up?

Once you have worked out what you need in the irrigation system, you will need to reach out to Alberta One-Call so they can mark your yard for any utility lines and gas piping before the dig. They have a convenient online booking option that lets you know when they will be at your property. 

It is a good idea to be present at the various installation stages, so if the crews encounter any challenges, you can discuss options with them. 

 

Are you ready to add an underground sprinkler system in Calgary? Our professional and knowledgeable staff at Future Green can inform you about all aspects of an irrigation process and answer any questions you may have.