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No runways!

Posted by reyesuela z7a (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 15, 10 at 5:18

My front path gets little to not artificial lighting from the eaves lights on the house, and he streetlight is VERY far away. However, I'm not fond of garden path lights. There aren't trees close enough for most of the path for downlights. How else can the walk be lit? What subtle options are there?

The path is of light gray 18" pavers set 12" apart. The spaces between them will be planted with a very low chartreuse groundcover. I just want a soft glow of light no no one trips or wanders into the garden after dark....

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: No runways!

How long is the path? Would you consider using lights in the trees where possible, and other types of light where there are no trees?

If you added tree lights, how much unlighted space is left?

RE: No runways!

OK, so my mom is a retired electrical designer and her favourite point to make about lighting is that light has to reflect off of something to be effective at illuminating it. Which is to say that you are rejecting the runway lighting for good reason as it mostly provides information about where there is a void in between. You want to illuminate the actual ground, and most garden lights, cute as some of them are, are too low to the ground to do that even when they are right beside the path. They illuminate their location; that's it, and simply outline the shape of the void that is your sidewalk. Way too many lantern and yard-type lights also project light outward into the eyes of the viewer rather than downward onto the path. In short, it tries to illuminate the viewer, not the view.

Perhaps what you need, then, are a couple of creative ways to shine light onto the pathway, and that can vary along its length. As per MTO's questions, you can demarcate where the street light stops being useful and where the house light starts being useful, and strategically place a couple of things - a light atop a trellis, a lamp standard, a floodlight from an eave... and maybe one or two low lights - all of which shine light DOWN ONTO THE GROUND and don't simply radiate it uselessly and irritatingly out into the darkness. Ideally, I think, the viewer trying to find the pathway (which, sorry to say, sounds a bit dangerous to me) would not be able to see the actual light source, just what is being illuminated.

Also, consider the visitor both coming to and leaving your house; don't design the lighting so it works one way but blinds the poor soul when they go in the other.


RE: No runways!

The street light is useless halfway up my 100'+ driveway--it doesn't even get close to the walk in front of he house!

I may have to experiment with a shoplight and a victim, um, volunteer to see if the eaves work, but I have a very deep foundation bed (10-14'). There's a reason for this--my foundation plantings need height because on 79' of house-front going up to the door, there's all of 11' of glass (if you discount an obvious tiny bathroom window that I want to screen). So the foundation plants nearest the wall range from 3' under the windows to 15'+ toward the corners--and for 15'+ of height, you need some decent width, and I dislike having walks so close to plantings that you can't see the front door, especially when the architecture doesn't give you a big clue.

RE: No runways!

This may sound silly but try all white plants lining the walkway. If you look up white gardens they say how great they look in the dark. Get a few in bloom and try it first. Then maybe you could add a few lights if needed.

Just had a thought, a lot of people use rope lighting for their decks any way you could outline your walkway with the rope lights.


RE: No runways!

The walkway is stepping stones. With the light gray for the walk, it's not bad on young eyes except when the moon's new, and with chartreuse evergreen foliage, it'll be even better.

But the moon's new sometimes, and we have guests who DON'T have young eyes!

Rope lights would probably be a challenge. I'd have to bury the line between the stones and make sure it's visible in between. It might work, though. I have some lying around for a remodeling project that I can co-op, at least for a while. I'll give it a shot!

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