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High Drama from Low Sources
How Unusual Applications Can Have a Big Impact on Lighting Design

by Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA and Pete Bryant, Southern Lights Landscape Lighting

At the completion of any project, landscape lighting is the crowning glory of any properly designed space. Used to extend the year-round use of the space, safety and to add ambiance, outdoor lighting adds value to any project. An additional challenge to lighting designers is the projects with unusual features or multiple competing elements that need to be illuminated. Let's look at a few 'out of the ordinary' projects by Hawkins Landscape Architecture and Southern Lights, of Greensboro NC and see how the lighting was incorporated to maximize the outdoor living for the homeowners.



Lighting Case study #1- A Small Space with some Big Design Elements
PROJECT SUMMARY: This project is nestled in the Sunset Hills neighborhood of Greensboro, NC The focus of this site design was to provide ample outdoor living and entertaining areas for year-round, day and evening use by the homeowners. While the yard was small by some comparison, the homeowners wanted to turn it into a fully functioning entertaining space for family and friends. The homeowners were particularly interested in an organic design with many natural elements and features incorporated. The final design by Hawkins Landscape Architecture included a new raised patio, outdoor kitchen and bar area, fire feature, water feature and plantings.


High Drama from Low Sources

High Drama from Low Sources


LIGHTING FOCUS: The lighting was chosen to illuminate the outdoor space for function, safety and for drama and excitement.

LIGHTING DESIGN: With so many outdoor features in this design, the lighting was chosen to highlight each one, while not competing with the overall site design. Safety was also a consideration, since the outdoor kitchen area was several yards away from the house. Proper lighting needed to be incorporated to allow evening use and safe passage from the house to the kitchen. Further, the design had several interesting focal points which needed to be highlighted. A main component of the design was the large boulder which supported the bar area. This was a signature piece of the design and was highlighted with integrated bar lights under the counter to highlight the boulder shape and texture. Similarly, the large boulder water feature was a central focal point of the project. Lighting was necessary to allow it to be viewed from the home's interior windows in the evening. Integrated step and wall lights were added for safety, as well as, nighttime drama. Light fixtures used were custom fixtures. For step/wall lighting, a 2.5-watt integrated LED module was used to light the risers and under the caps of the walls. The outdoor kitchen and bar incorporated10 watt integrated LED light bars built in under the counter. Spotlights were used for up lighting and accent lighting of focal points and landscape features, 16-watt LED fixtures; path lights were 2.9-watt LED lamps with 10" spread.



High Drama from Low Sources

High Drama from Low Sources





Lighting Case study #2- An Overrun Patio and Hot Tub Area Gets New Life.
PROJECT SUMMARY: This project is in the Gates of Brassfield neighborhood of Greensboro, NC. These homeowners had an existing large patio which was overcome by a large existing hot tub. The existing patio was unstable, and the existing wall created a claustrophobic affect in the space. They desired to have more useable entertaining space, repair the patio, and to move the hot tub where it could become a functioning element of the space. The final design by Hawkins Landscape Architecture included an Ipe (Brazilian Walnut) deck extension to build in the hot tub at a lower level. The extension of the hot tub deck also became a lower bar seating area. The existing patio was removed, re leveled and replaced. The existing seat wall was removed and replaced with a pierced seat wall to create a more open feel. A small playground area for the owners' daughter was also incorporated.


High Drama from Low Sources

High Drama from Low Sources

LIGHTING FOCUS: The homeowners main concern was to first illuminate the different landscape elements for safety and for their daughter and family members' use. Steps, wall, and playground area were illuminated with integrated fixtures for this purpose. The hot tub area and lower bar area were underlit for evening entertaining.



High Drama from Low Sources

High Drama from Low Sources

LIGHTING DESIGN: First, the cap of the pierced wall and steps were lit with integral lights for safety. Spotlights were added at the existing brick wall to illuminate the existing concrete patio and steps from the existing screened porch. Path lights and spotlights were added to the new child's play area. The new built in hot tub incorporated integral deck lighting, and underlighting in the new bar seating area at the back of the hot tub. Light fixtures used were custom features: For step/wall lighting, a 2.5-watt integrated LED module was used to light the risers and under the caps of the walls. The outdoor bar area at the deck extension incorporated10 watt integrated LED light bars built in under the counter. Spotlights were used for up lighting and accent lighting of focal points and landscape features, 16-watt LED fixtures; path lights were 2.9-watt LED lamps.






Lighting Case Study #3- Residential Putting Green Gets the Spotlight.
PROJECT SUMMARY: This project is in the Irving Park neighborhood of Greensboro, NC. These customers were outdoor enthusiasts and wanted their backyard to reflect this central interest. The project had many unique design features and the owners wanted to highlight them for both day and night use.


High Drama from Low Sources

High Drama from Low Sources

LIGHTING FOCUS: Southern Lights began with the landscaping by illuminating the putting green, stone walls, outdoor living areas, and perimeter lighting. This is contrary to the normal convention of highlighting the architecture first, since the putting green was a key feature.


High Drama from Low Sources

High Drama from Low Sources

LIGHTING DESIGN: The focus for this project was simple. Bring to life all the beautiful landscape features installed in this amazing backyard. Our client wanted ease of use and for entertaining guests while using his putting green. On this project, proper fixture selection and placement were imperative, since there were many viewing angles. The client also wanted full control of the lighting system and specifically the putting green area. Southern Lights provided them with an outdoor lighting dimmer switch. This dimmer switch, located right beside the putting green, allowed full control of the intensity of light.






Lighting Case Study #4-- Outdoor Breezeway & Kitchen Lighting
PROJECT SUMMARY: This project is in the Jefferson Woods neighborhood of Greensboro, NC Since security was a large part of the front lighting design, these clients wanted the backyard properly illuminated for safety as well. The backyard and outdoor kitchen remodel had just been completed prior to the lighting project. The area from the garage, driveway and breezeway was a major flow of traffic area, so making these areas 'pop' was important.


High Drama from Low Sources

High Drama from Low Sources

LIGHTING FOCUS: This project started with the architecture of the home and then moved outward into the landscape. When talking with the client, security played the largest role in this lighting designs' focus.


High Drama from Low Sources

LANDSCAPE LIGHTING FIXTURES: 100% made in USA Clarolux Landscape Lighting Fixtures. Clarolux BL21 "Tivoli" Compact Directional Brass, Clarolux AL1 "Barletta" Area & Path Light Brass, Clarolux SWL1 "Fasano" Specialty Light, Specialty Low Voltage Recessed Can Lights

LIGHTING DESIGN: This beautiful white brick home needed some attention to highlight its features. Using the homes white color to our advantage by allowing the light to correctly reflect light back into the landscape and onto the driveway we not only illuminated the property beautifully, but also provided a great deal of security lighting.
Proper Illumination of your projects will amaze your clients and give them added time to enjoy their newly designed spaces. Try one of these techniques in one of your upcoming projects for added value to any property.






High Drama from Low Sources

Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA- Lori has been a registered Landscape Architect for over 30 years. She is the principal of Hawkins Landscape Architecture. Her work can be seen from Raleigh to Asheville, N.C. but is primarily located in the Greensboro, NC Triad area. Lori's specialty is residential landscape, hardscape and lighting design. www.HawkinsLA.com


High Drama from Low Sources

Pete Bryant- Pete has over 20 years experience and is the Founder, President and CEO of both Southern Exposure Landscape Management and Southern Lights Landscape Lighting. He is one of two C.O.L.D. designers and one of three C.L.V.L.T Technicians in the state of North Carolina. Pete's professional lighting certifications include: Certified Outdoor Lighting Design Technician, Certified Low Voltage Lighting Technician and Board member of the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals. www.wemakedirtlookgood.com

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Filed Under: LIGHTING
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September 21, 2019, 11:22 am PDT

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