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July 2017

Functional Outdoor Lighting Plans: The Do’s and Don’ts

Lighting can really make or break a room — the same applies for outdoor lighting and the exterior of your Milton, MA, home. A well designed outdoor lighting plan increases safety and security, besides providing amazing curb appeal and ambience for your outdoor gatherings.

Outdoor lighting involves more than just focusing lights on trees or along walkways. A well planned functional outdoor lighting system provides benefits far beyond its immediate visual impact. It also sets the tone for a relaxed mood. Mood and environment are equally set by what is in shadow, light, and the interplay between the two.

Below are some outdoor lighting do’s and don’ts to help you get the ambience you’re looking for in your outdoor areas, but remember you don’t have to go at it alone. Contact us for assistance with the design and installation of your outdoor lighting system.

Outdoor Lighting Do’s

  • Do opt for LED Fixtures. LED lighting uses much less energy than regular bulbs. LEDs also last longer and are available in a variety of colors. The choices are many when it comes to LED fixtures.
  • Do use Multiple Layers. Make use of multiple layers, but avoid overdoing the number of fixtures. For example, you can place spotlights at different angles to light up a garden statue or create silhouettes. The intention is to avoid drawing attention to the light themselves, but rather to add more detail and effects, staggering lights as opposed to grouping several in a single bunch.
  • Be Concerned about Shadow as Well as Light. A relaxing atmosphere is established through the interplay of light and shadow. For garden walls, for example, consider using well lights positioned at the base to shine upwards. The interplay of light and shadow on the wall’s face will highlight the stone’s texture.
Related: Capturing the Timeless Aesthetic of the Stone Wall

Outdoor Lighting Don’ts

  • Don’t light only patios, walkways, and trees. Doing so isolates these elements and surrounds them with darkness. This is unflattering, especially if you’re trying to relax on your patio and can’t see beyond the darkness at its edge. Instead, position lights at the edge of the property in plant beds and trees. This helps ground these elements within the larger landscape design and provides a sense of depth.
  • Don’t forget to light other features of your landscape. This includes pillars, peaks and overhangs. They are unique and illuminating them not only enhances the beauty of the home, but also casts an ambient glow over the yard.
  • Avoid selecting fixtures based on aesthetic only. Even though aesthetics is important, you still need to factor in light output and performance. Take into consideration how much wattage you need and the type of bulbs you prefer besides finding a look you love.
  • Don’t employ bullet lights for every aspect of your home’s exterior. Even though they are versatile and can be fitted with different bulbs and beams, they are still essentially spotlights. Limit bullet lights to corners and architectural details instead.

Capturing the Timeless Aesthetic of the Stone Wall

A commanding, natural stone wall can bring character and timelessness to any landscape. The wide availability of choices involved in the creation of your stone wall calls for some expert input into your decision, so as you plan to incorporate a landscaping stone wall in Milton, MA, consult with a landscaping professional to decide which kind of stone wall aesthetic will work best for your given property and situation.

Stone Blocks

In the modern landscape, stone walls are often built with concrete blocks; although, concrete as a material can be used itself in several different ways. Whether you use the standard concrete block (CMU), split face blocks, or retaining wall building systems, it’s easier than ever before to create a naturally-inspired, impressive stone wall for your landscape.

Stone Veneer

Homeowners who choose stone veneer to achieve the desired stone aesthetic typically use CMUs as the base of the wall on top of concrete footers. Once the base is complete, stone veneer is then used to cover the surface area. Stone masons will use your choice of veneer material to cover the wall, creating a timeless look for your landscape.

Split Face Block

Split face block offers an alternative to stone veneer that eases installation, affordability, and durability. Manufacturers produce this concrete option with a textured aesthetic on one side, making the construction of a wall with a stone aesthetic simple. Moreover, the variety of options that you’ll find indicate a newly found ability to complement any style of design or architecture needed.

Retaining Wall System Units

Another development in terms of landscape wall building is the advancement of retaining wall system units. These systems fit together seamlessly, increasing strength and durability. Yet, the seemingly random nature of the stones and the natural texture enhance the stone aesthetic of the unit when complete.

Related: 5 Uses for Retaining Walls in Landscape Design

Dry Stone Wall

Finally, when nothing but actual rock will do, call in the heavy equipment. This job will require an engineer on site to ensure correct placement of your stones or boulders. The height of this project may be limited, but the magnitude of the statement made will not be. Whether using stacked slabs or boulders, this sort of stone wall is truly a monumental feature for any landscape.

Related: Dry vs Wet Masonry for your Stone Wall in Hanover, MA

Various Wall Options

Stone walls can be used for a multitude of purposes, and it’s helpful to consider the function of your landscaping addition rather than the aesthetic advantages alone. For those with erosion issues or grading issues on the land, retaining walls can help hold back soil and prevent further erosion. For those with a flat landscape without the need for retaining walls, consider seating walls around a patio, low walls to elevate planting beds, or high privacy walls around specific areas in the yard. When making these plans and decisions, remember to consult a professional in the field to guide your choices regarding materials and design to make sure that the style meets function and that your addition remains durable, attractive, and practical for many, many years.

Related: Creating Privacy in Your Massachusetts Backyard

Trending Backyard Designs This Summer

Just as you update your Sciituate, MA, home’s interiors, an update to your outdoor areas every once in a while is a great way to give your landscape a fresh new look. So if it is time to give your outdoor living space a makeover, take a look at these top outdoor landscaping trends for this summer season:

Bringing the Indoors Out

Get ready to bring the indoors outside. The biggest trend this year is to create a seamless transition from the indoor living room or sunroom to your outdoor space. This can be done by matching your outdoor pavers to your indoor flooring, add an awning that extends your ceiling into your patio or by adding French or sliding doors that open out onto your patio. You can also use outdoor rugs, sofas, side tables and throw pillows to make it all the more inviting and give your patio a sense of indoor comfort. The backyard is now an extension of the indoor space, and you get to decorate it with fun outdoor furniture and decor just as if you were indoors.

Related: What’s Missing in your Landscaping Layout?

Fun Printed Pillows

A sure way to make the outdoors look more inviting is to add fun colored pillows. Look for bright colors to cozy up your patio space. These patterns and colors can be repeated in your plant beds with bright flowering shrubs or perennials for a cohesive look.

Keep Your Color Palette Cool

Some of the favorite fabric colors this season are soft coastal blues, bisque and ivory. And of course let’s not leave out the already trending bamboo and jute colors. These fabrics can provide a fresh new look to your outdoor areas in the form of outdoor curtains and shade cloths.

Related: 5 Most Important Landscape Design Essentials in Every Backyard

Retro Is Back

Forget that ornate outdoor furniture of a few years ago. Retro is this year’s summer trend. If you can’t find real retro furnishings, don’t worry! Many manufacturers are bringing the retro look back in their new furniture designs. Natural, woven styles and even crochet are hot items. Think 70’s with rattan and wicker inspired pieces.

Related: Backyard Designs for Creating Rustic Charm in MA

Non-Traditional Colors

Although rattan is back, modern manufactured materials are stronger and the new off-the-wall colors of woven furniture is fantastic. Think light blue distressed, or bright blues and oranges. These can be matched or contrasted with vibrant concrete pavers and brought to life after dark with an effective outdoor lighting system. Speaking of which, experimenting with outdoor lighting colors can also achieve some interesting effects and add a surprising new mood to your outdoor living areas.

Related: Backyard Designs that Promote Serenity and Calm

Natural Materials

By the same token natural is back when it comes to building materials as well. Patios and walkways in natural stone styles are the way to go. Up until recently installing natural stone was a challenging undertaking for homeowners because of availability, cost and the discrepancies in color and size. However with new precision cutting methods for natural stone, a larger global market, and the advancement of concrete pavers with stone-like finishes, these problems have been eliminated. Now the look of flagstone, bluestone, and sandstone is easily achieved.

Related: Natural Stone vs Concrete Paver Patio for Your MA Home

5 Essential Elements for Your MA Outdoor Kitchen

Adding an outdoor kitchen to your landscape is an investment that pays dividends in increasing property value and your family’s enjoyment of your backyard. If you’re confused about the range of essential elements for your outdoor kitchen in Westwood, MA, we’ve compiled a few vital considerations. Remember to choose materials that are complementary to the design of your home and other outdoor spaces, in order to keep the entire design unified and balanced.

A Place for Prep

Enjoying a meal with family or friends begins with the preparation stage. This initial part of the cooking process requires a surface area on which to season, cut, and otherwise get food ready for cooking. When it comes to prep room, the more the better. Whether you choose to incorporate a patio island or counters connected to your grill area, the choice should be made with an eye toward making the most efficient use of the space available.

Related Read: Finding an Outdoor Kitchen Design that Suits Your Style and Needs

A Place to Cook

The most obvious choice that you’ll have to make is your method of cooking. Whether you purchase an expensive grill, construct your own outdoor pizza oven, or create a construction that allows for a range of cooking methods, dedicate a space near the prep area for cooking alone. You might include a rotisserie, smoker, gas or wood burning grill. Consider your outdoor cooking habits and include the units best suited to your purposes.

Related Read: Natural Stone vs Concrete Paver Patio for Your MA Home

A Place to Clean

During and after cooking and enjoying your meal, you’ll need a place to clean the mess. Requiring a sink and a trash receptacle, this area should be designed for efficient and quick cleanup. Whether you typically clean as you cook or save the mess for after the meal, with a nearby clean up area with running water, sink, appropriate cleaners, and tools, you’ll find that the clean up is much quicker and easier than if you were to have to travel back and forth inside the house carrying dirty dishes and wet cloths.

A Place for Storage

Storing food outside requires some form of cabinetry for non-perishables, as well as a refrigerator for perishables. Being able to prepare meals without running inside and out for ingredients and tools is an essential requirement of a truly independent outdoor kitchen space. While you will likely use the fridge space mostly for refreshments and pre-made foods before a celebration, the extra space and cold drinks for your guests is a huge convenience. Moreover, for those who cook regularly outdoors during the summer, it simply makes sense to keep commonly used ingredients within the space where they’ll be used.

Related Read: Trending Backyard Designs This Summer

A Place to Eat

Finally, the point of your outdoor kitchen will be to share a meal with family and friends. You’ll need a dining area specifically for this purpose. The floor space should be stain resistant and easy to clean, and the seating should be comfortable with a nearby surface space for eating. You can choose to purchase luxurious outdoor furniture or construct a permanent dining space. Either way, consult a landscape design professional to ensure that the space complements the rest of your outdoor space, as well as your existing home’s architecture.

Related Read: Creating Privacy in Your Massachusetts Backyard