Outdoor Lighting Lingo

When planning or shopping for outdoor lighting whether you seek help from a professional (we hope you’ll choose Landscape Lighting Ottawa) or installing a DIY project, being familiar with the industry terminology and lingo is important. Know what option are available and how each type of lighting is used to make the most of what’s on the market right now.

With some imagination, there’s no limit to the combinations you can incorporate in your own landscape lighting design to create drama, romance, or just an inviting after-dark space.

Up Lighting
Placing a fixture so that the focus of the light is pointed up creates up lighting. These are usually low voltage lights and are available in solar, halogen and LED. Up lighting can be placed part way up a pillar or on the ground at the base of a tree. There are a lot of options, and there is a wide variety of fixtures and finishes to choose from.

Down Lighting
Any fixture either equipped to point light down (with a hood, shield, or cover) or placed high up to shine light on what’s below is considered down lighting. Down lighting is popular for walkways, patios, and along the roof line of a home. Down lighting can be placed in a tree, under a bench or railing. The light may be placed in such a way during the day that it’s virtually unseen.

Wash lighting is when light is directed to “wash” over a broad canvas such as an entire wall, fence, or row of bushes. Wash lighting creates a soft glow over a large area. The colour of the canvas feature may amplify or mute the light: a light coloured wall vs a dark coloured fence.

Just as the name implies, this lighting technique utilizes existing structures or plants/trees for ambiance by casting light to create shadows. Shadows can be cast on the ground (with down lighting in a tree for instance) or on trees or shrubs onto a wall. Where shadowing is a negative is when they are not accounted for and hide parts of stairs or walkways and become a safety hazard.

This is most effective when light is placed between a planting or other feature and a light coloured wall. The play of light and darkness can create some fantastic silhouettes that provide light but is more subtle and creative.

Grazing uses uplighting to cast light and shadows over unique textures such as a stone façade on a home or pillar. This technique is often paired with silhouettes and others.

As the name suggests, a single light is pointed at an object, structure, or other unique feature. Spotslights in landscape design are often placed at different angles to make use of shadows and silhouettes.

Moon Lighting
The intent with moon lighting is to mimic the natural light of the moon. Often this is done by placing a light high up in a tree and allowing the swaying shadows to cascade down onto a patio, walkway, or other space below.

We’d love the opportunity to answer your outdoor lighting questions. Let Landscape Lighting Ottawa help you design a truly unique lighting plan.Contact our landscape lighting experts to learn more about our lighting services or to view our gallery of one-of-a-kind designs.

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