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Lighting the Home & Garden

Editor, Stephen Kelly




A combination of bronze bullet directional lights, well lights (bronze grade and debris covers) and wall wash lights (all Cast Lighting) achieve shadowing on the brick, grazing effects on the keystone corners and a well-defined custom entry way of this Wayne, N.J. home. The home has 135 low-voltage light fixtures, using Cast Multi-Tap Master Series transformers.
Photo: Landscape Perceptions of Ditomaso Design Inc.

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While landscape architects often tend to be involved in large commercial or institutional projects, many LAs have honed their skills early on with residential design work, and, certainly, some make residential design their specialty.

We know our annual Jan. residential issue is popular, so we thought it might be interesting to step away from commercial lighting work and see how landscape architects are using lighting closer to home.We asked some landscape architects to send examples of their residential lighting design work, including a few gardens, and explain their thinking on landscape lighting design.

Landscape Perceptions of Ditomaso Design Inc., Wayne, N.J.


Landscape Architects: Lenny Ditomaso and Joshua Hampton






Illumination of moving water is magical. Underwater fixtures (Kitchler, 50-watt MR 16 lamps) are directly under the water at the impact point for a glowing effect as the light intermixes with the air bubbles. “China Hat” path lights (Cast Lighting, 20-watt halogen bayonette lamps) lead you up the rock ledge.


Landscape Perceptions is a residential design/build firm that often collaborates with Signature Lighting on low-voltage light systems for its residential projects.

The Wayne, New Jersey residential project pictured here is on a one-acre site. The challenge was to deliver a front yard design complementing the home’s “semi-formal” architecture, and create a functional design for the back yard that had a pool and a nearby 26-ft. high rock ledge.






Subtle cross-lighting of the gazebo (Par 36 wall lights with 35-watt halogen lamps) and uplit birch trees (bullet directionals) invite you to an otherwise dark corner.


“We removed the concrete walkway (in front) and install a pattern bluestone walk, which had ample space for benches and planters,” explain the landscape architects. “We constructed a snapped bluestone wall along the walkway to retain the elevation around the front foundation. A boxwood hedge follows the perimeter of the walkway, while accent plants were installed along the foundation. Landscape lighting was installed along the foundation to accent the architecture of the house and specimen plantings, while path lights were placed along the walkway providing ample illumination.”

The backyard design included removing the concrete patio and renovating the pool, constructing an outdoor kitchen and placement of a self-contained spa.

“Our design included the construction of a waterfall and pond on one end of the pool and the installation of a series of steps and landings traversing up the rock ledge on the other end of the pool. Another waterfall was constructed along the steps and landings creating a series of cascades discharging into one underground collection tank. This pathway leads to an upper lawn area with a fire pit, pergola, sitting space, and a gazebo.”






The path lights are for pool patio safety but are also transition lighting from the pool to the perimeter lighting. The waterfall and specimen trees become focal points in the background. A combination of backlighting, cross-lighting (boulders) and uplighting are seen.
PhotoS: Landscape Perceptions of Ditomaso Design Inc.


Low-voltage landscape lighting in the backyard is on the BBQ walls, illuminates the patio perimeter, accents the specimen plants and the rock ledge and steps and landings leading to the upper lawn area. Additional lighting went around the gazebo and fire pit.

T. Delaney—Seam Studios, San Francisco


Garden of Revelation, San Francisco






Descending through a grove of olives, the views are of two sandblasted glass walls backlit with white neon surrounding the central court, situated on the roof of a subterranean garage. Neon installation is set between the glass and the mirror on one side of the courtyard and the glass and the slate on the opposite side of the courtyard. There are four continuous tubes at 3,000K color temperature. The step lights embedded in the vertical side walls are Bega 2035P 5W


Under the direction of Topher Delaney, T. Delaney—SEAM Studio has focused on exploring interpretative landscape architecture, site installations and public art for three decades. The firm’s projects encompass a wide range of formal and dynamic installations that bring the realms of sculpture, land and culture together with technical skill and quality materials.

The firm says it does not subscribe to “typological categorization,” but chooses to “integrate physical form with narrative” that references a site’s historic, cultural, physical and environmental profiles.






Passing the threshold is a tapestry of green trumpet vines suspended on a stainless steel grid and lit by vertical stainless steel trellis poles developed by Dan Dodt, lighting consultant for Globalux in San Francisco. The SS housing has a sanded U.V. acrylic sleeve diffuser above ground with a vertical slit and horizontal circular aperture lit with an in-ground “BK Night Star NFS,” downsized wattage output to 20 watts with an MR 16 lamp. Located at the core of the entry garden is a white concrete square pool of water, a chalice of containment for nine squares of calla lily bulbs. The water feature has unique multi-colored fiber optic pin-point lights set on a 12-inch grid 18 inches below the water line.


Comprised of for full-time artists and architects who develop the concepts, and 12 fabricators who deliver the installations, the studio is particularly interested in exploring innovative materials like recycled plastics, rubber, colored concrete, fiberglass, and diachronic glass in relation to “traditional” materials associated with exterior installation.

For this project, “Revelation: The Light and the Dark”— T. Delaney—Seam Studios writes: “This glass installation refers to the metaphor of our constant choice between darkness and light, the passive and active, both in our environment and our life. I believe we are always entering and descending into this forum. As the circle of daylight progresses to darkness, the glass boundaries radiate with a progressive intensity of light. Within darkness, the recessive is transmitted to an active vibrant plane of light. So, in darkness, shall we find the light.”

“We removed the concrete walkway (in front) and install a pattern bluestone walk, which had ample space for benches and planters,” explain the landscape architects. “We constructed a snapped bluestone wall along the walkway to retain the elevation around the front foundation. A boxwood hedge follows the perimeter of the walkway, while accent plants were installed along the foundation. Landscape lighting was installed along the foundation to accent the architecture of the house and specimen plantings, while path lights were placed along the walkway providing ample illumination.”

The backyard design included removing the concrete patio and renovating the pool, constructing an outdoor kitchen and placement of a self-contained spa.






The White Courtyard sports in-ground Hadco IL 116-H 12 volt 50-watt lamps to wash the walls.
Photos: T. Delaney—Seam Studios, San Francisco


“Our design included the construction of a waterfall and pond on one end of the pool and the installation of a series of steps and landings traversing up the rock ledge on the other end of the pool. Another waterfall was constructed along the steps and landings creating a series of cascades discharging into one underground collection tank. This pathway leads to an upper lawn area with a fire pit, pergola, sitting space, and a gazebo.”

Low-voltage landscape lighting in the backyard is on the BBQ walls, illuminates the patio perimeter, accents the specimen plants and the rock ledge and steps and landings leading to the upper lawn area. Additional lighting went around the gazebo and fire pit.

Sunset Landscaping Co., Naples, Fla.


Landscape architect and vice president: Ryan Binkowski, RLA • Landscape contractor: Sunset Landscape Co. • General contractor: Joe Beauchamp, The Williams Group, Inc., Naples • Lighting contractor: Kevin Thorsen, Tropical Lightscapes, Inc., Naples






The spot lighting of the palms is via die-cast brass Scarabs (KIM Lighting) with MR16 lamps. The lens are tempered clear soda lime glass and have glare shields. Locking teeth provide horizontal rotation independent of the threaded mount. The vertical angle is locked by a stainless set screw. The water feature, a spry ring and scuppers that pour into a basin, is lit by three underwater lights (Luminere 1407 brass) that wash the tiled wall and bronze elements. The scuppers and lion spout (center) operate independently from the spray ring. “The spouting water catches the light and allows it to dance around the columns of water, while the spray ring streams magnify this effect,” says Ryan Binkowski, RLA.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Binkowski, RLA, Sunset Landscaping Co., Naples, Fla.


“When approaching a complex or unusually complicated design, I always have a certain excitement about the vision in my mind and how I can most effectively reveal that to the client so that it satisfies their design requirements, but also excites them as they begin to discover what we see,” explains Ryan Binkowski, RLA of Sunset Landscape Co., Naples, Fla.

Sunset and their landscape architect were brought in during construction of a four-story home on a 11,200 sq. ft. bay-front lot in Naples, Fla., working in conjunction with the Williams Group, Inc., a high-end custom builder based in Naples.

The design aimed at an outdoor resort spa experience, which required intense product and finishes research. One challenge was the home filled out the lot, requiring very narrow planters and precise landscape details.

“I knew the lighting design would be as crucial to the project’s success,” notes the landscape architect. The landscape and respective lighting design were dictated by the need to conceal a dock and large boat, plus offer an attractive landscape from all vantage points from the back of the home, including from three balconies and lower lanai spaces, while maintaining a resort spa character in the function and finish of the space.

Getting the sleeves and conduits located in the right places and choosing the appropriate lamps and fixtures to minimize glare and hotspots at close proximities were the two most difficult parts of this job.






Hadco EL2N Pathlytes accent the shrubbery, but they are also mounted horizontally to the custom trellises, which involved using a modified cover-plate and junction box. Well lights uplight the box trellises and underlight the coconut palm canopy. A 50-watt, wide-flood, lamp brings a soft lighting effect to the pool area.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Binkowski, RLA, Sunset Landscaping Co., Naples, Fla.


“There are 52 landscape fixtures on the property, creating dramatic contrasts of washes and directional spots on plant materials and custom trellises and site furnishings,” explains Mr. Binkowski. The landscape lighting system is powered by four Vista Multi-Tap Series power transformers and operated by a master Lutron system.

Like the quality finishes chosen for the home, the lighting fixtures are all cast or spun brass with sealed housings. The landscape architect normally specifies these types of fixtures because of their durability. In this case, the immediate proximity of the bay and its corrosive saltwater absolutely required it. Brass and bronze finishes were incorporated into other aspects to unify the landscape design, which contrasted nicely with stone, tile and stucco elements. The brass lighting and bronze pool scuppers, spa overflow, trellis finishes, shower fixtures, and outdoor kitchen fixtures all resist pitting and corrosion.

Yael Lir Landscape Architects


South Pasadena, Calif.






Yael Lir, RLA has placed 50-watt uplights (Magnaliter GU-1265) by the pool to take advantage of the reflectiveness of the water, which mirrors the foliage of the trees.


Yael Lir is a practicing landscape architect for over 27 years. She has a masters in horticulture and has performed extensive research into various aspects of plant growth.

Her residential work includes “special needs residential,” like the Union Station home for the homeless in Pasadena and a woman’s shelter in Los Angeles. She also works in the commercial arena.











Uplighting here is via 50-watt, MR-16 lamps with clear pyrex lens, a copper housing and a brass mount plate (Cameoliter WM-0602 CU). For lighting trees, 50-watts throws the light a long distance and creates real drama, says landscape architect Yael Lir.
Photos courtesy of Yael Lir Landscape Architects, South Pasadena, Calif


In designing garden lighting, Yael Lir, RLA, takes into consideration the safety of the users of the space, deciding which elements to light and then whether to up light or down light. “When lighting a walk, it is nice to have the light fixture installed consistently every so often, and before a change of elevation so there is a rhythm in walking or viewing the walk.” When the garden has a pool or pond, she likes to use the reflection of the water and install light at the end of the water, especially when there are trees, which will create a special effect.






The landscape architect has created subtle shadows with only a 35-watt lamp (Artisan WM-040 CU down light).


When dealing with palms, she likes to reveal the crown, installing a wide-angle bulb on the trunk a short distance from the crown. When dealing with an interesting trunk texture the fixture is placed close to the trunk so the texture will show.

Grant and Power Landscaping, Inc.


Garibaldi residence











Stake-mounted narrow flood lamps (FX Luminaire ReflectoreStellato, 35-watt halogen) uplight the pear trees and boxwoods in a cross-lighting fashion, plus illuminate the surface of the water. The lamp also is used to dramatic effect on the figure. The path lights (FX Luminaire CrescenteAlba, 20-watt xenolux lamps) on 18-inch risers bathe the plant beds and the stone walkway.
Photos: Grant and Power Landscaping, Inc.


Grant and Power Landscaping, Inc. is a landscape design/build firm in west Chicago that employs over 100 people, including landscape architects, designers and landscape consultants.

For this residential project, the firm incorporated a backyard water feature inspired by the geometric formal water features of European gardens. The sound play of three small fountains in the pond create a soothing atmosphere. Designers Kathy Richardson and Wanda Lupina framed and soften the pond with an alee of pear trees, underplanted with boxwoods and perennials.

“The look we wanted to achieve with the lighting was to spotlight the trees to accentuate the linear quality of the area,” explains Ms. Lupina. “Rather than putting lighting right into the water, which would make it look like a pool, our lighting designer, Wes, decided to cross the beams of the spotlights on the trees. The effect was that each tree was illuminated but the tops of the water fountains were also highlighted. Path lights completed the picture by bathing the plant beds and the stone walkway in circles of light.”


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June 26, 2019, 11:54 am PDT

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