Posts Tagged lighting

Decorating for Halloween

It’s about that time of year again when little feet will patter up your walk or driveway and request that you give them candy.  Perhaps you always decorate for Halloween, or maybe you like to celebrate the cornucopia of fall’s abundance.  Either way, there are a lot of fun ideas for decorating your yard for Halloween.  Here are some:Trick or treat

– Buy biodegradable decorations like pumpkins and cornstalks.  That way, when you’re done creating your fun scene, you can chop them up and add texture to your compost.

– Use existing structures, trees, and bushes so that your decorations have little impact on your landscape.

– Secure your decorations with strong string, wire, or some other durable substance.  With fall winds, it’s always a good idea to make sure your decorations aren’t going to come down and get blown around.

– Utilize more than jut pumpkins.  You don’t have to stick with the normal jack-o-lantern format.  Make it your own by carving fun faces in hardshell gourds or squash.

– Cover your handrails in spooky vines like grapevines or bittersweet vines.

– Use different sizes and shapes of gourds, squash, and pumpkins hidden in different parts of your yard to add texture and eye candy.pumpkins harvest

– If you have a blow-up display or are putting in fake gravestones, you will probably have to sacrifice some of your lawn to make sure it is secured properly.  So, if you’re going to stake something, be sure to get it staked deeply and have soil and grass seed ready for the holes and brown patches you will make.

– Plant up your borders with fall-colored flowers.  You an try marigolds, flowering cabbages, mums and cyclamen.  The cabbages particularly are a temporary addition that can add a little bit of spookiness and a lot of texture to your yard.

– Try using electric candles instead of real candles if you have a lot to light up.  While the flickering glow of a real candle has its own charm, don’t line your walkway with real candles – even if they’re in pumpkins.

– Create an spooky outdoor arrangement with raked up maple leaves, trimmed sticks and dead flowers.   You can compost it afterwards.

Above all, be safe.  Make sure your lighting is all set up so that children don’t stumble in the dark toward your door.  While it may give them thrills to walk toward a gloomy home, be sure to still provide them with enough light to find their way to your door without mishap.

Here’s to a fun and safe Halloween!

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Brighten Up Your Yard

Every year we go through the cycle of long days and short nights to long nights and short days, and back again.  It’s turning toward the long nights period, so it’s time for you to consider the lighting in your front and back yard.  Here are some ideas and principles to keep in mind as you look at what needs to be lit in your yard and what you consider is the best way to do that:

1. Consider what you need lighting for.  Do you have walkways and pathways which could use illumination?  Do you have certain plants, water features, statues, and more that you want to show off?  Lighting is more than just a way to Pathway Lightingsee things – it’s a way to spotlight your favorite spaces and features.

2. Think about what your electrical lines and cables will be running through.  I know someone who was working on some landscaping in his yard and he managed to cut his lighting power line with a sharp spade.  The power line was running through tree roots and was practically indistinguishable from the roots.  So, realize that, while you want to hide the lines, keep them running through areas where they won’t be easily mistaken for a root.

3. Figure out what type of light you want to use.  There are some gorgeous LED and solar powered lights out there, as well as regular lighting.  Each bulb will give a slightly different effect and may make you decide to change the position of your lighting fixture, depending on the strength of the bulb.

4. There are lights for all types of situations – you may want a spotlight which will brighten up a particularly beautiful tree or feature and you will likely want lights which make the ground more visible.  You don’t want to use a spot light to show a pathway, as it can be too bright and be uncomfortable on the eyes.  One type of lighting many do not consider is string or rope lighting to accent an area, like a flower bed, a bush or a tree. iStock_000009122825XSmall

5. No matter what type of lighting you use on your pathways or to accent features in your yard, be sure to use lights which accent your front door and back deck or porch.  Even in fall and winter, you will want to spend some time outdoors, and you want to be able to see at night.

6. A really fun way to get a candlelit glow this season is to get small lanterns and use them to light the way for a romantic, spooky, or fun occasion.

7. You may love or hate your pond or water feature, but for safety’s sake, be sure to light it so people know it’s there.

8. You can add motion sensors, timers, and many other devices to your lighting system.  That way your lights are useful, rather than a drain on your wallet.iStock_000001237507XSmall[1]

9. Consider lighting up your steps.  Recessed lights can make your steps easy to see and look like they have little candles in them, lighting the path home.

Here’s to a bright, perfectly accented yard!


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Wintertime Dreamin

It’s that time of year again.  Hopefully any lawn decorations and string lighting is set up, your yard is put to bed, and any lawn furniture is put away.  It’s time for us to look at our yards and plan for next year.

When it comes to home improvement, plans are generally modified by budget and available space.  So, what projects do you want to accomplish next year?  Here are some ideas:

– Go native.  It’s always good to add native plants to your yard – or to even take the plunge and plant only natives.  This will likely cut down your water bills and gardening costs – as Southern California natives like poppies, sage, Meeting Placedeer grass, California lilac, Coast Live Oak, Western Sycamore, etc are literally made for your soil.  These types of plants are great for hot, dry SoCal cities like Agoura Hills, La Canada, and Silverlake.  While you will need to keep them well watered to allow their roots to establish, over time they will help cut down that water bill.  Additionally, natives usually attract native birds and insects throughout the year, so your yard may become filled with butterflies, bumblebees and birds.

– Get sprinklers or a drip system installed.  As you well know, Southern California is hot and dry.  To keep up any kind of lawn or plants, you need some source of water.  Take a look at your space and decide if it would be better to go with a sprinkler system, or a drip system.  Drip systems get the water straight to the plant roots, which usually makes them more cost-effective.

Install hardscaping.  Are you sick of dealing with plants and sprinklers and so on?  Or maybe you want a place where your family and friends can gather outdoors and have a barbecue or a picnic.  These circumstances speak to getting hardscaping installed.  There are many different options for hardscaping – stone, concrete, brick, etc.  And your hardscaping ideas aren’t limited to a back patio or island.  Take a look at your entry way, your front walk, and your driveway.  These are all areas which can be improved with something as small as cleaning and sealing the concrete, stone or brick they are made of – or as in-depth and replacing the existing look with something completely different.

Make little changes.  It’s those details that make all the difference, from installing a fountain or lamp post in the back, to putting up a hammock for summertime or sprucing up your lawn furniture  you can make a big difference in your yard.

– Install a space for family gatherings.  Again, this can be as small as setting up a picnic table with benches – or as big as getting a firepit with surrounding seats installed.

– Get a nice screen to make your backyard your own little world.  Bamboo, tall bushes, and other plants can be installed to keep your backyard private and muffle outside sounds.  Take a look at what separates you from your neighbors and see if it can’t be improved.  If it’s a chain-link fence, perhaps you can discuss improvements with your neighbors and get a block wall or a wooden fence installed.  If you know your neighbor’s like the look of what separates your property lines, perhaps you can find plants you like to conceal it, or you can decorate it with a fountain or sculpture.

– Install any lighting.  This is actually something you should do over the winter, as this is the time of year when there is more darkness, and additional lighting would be welcome.

Here’s to a holiday season full of dreams fulfilled.

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Preparing Your Lawn for Halloween

This time of year, you have to prepare your poor lawn for the tramping of feet as well as any decorations you have.  Here are some ideas to keep your lawn presentable this time of year:

– Create a well-lit, obvious pathway for people to walk upon.  If you have an awkward path, like one which comes off of a driveway, make sure to keep the area leading up to the path clear of cars, decorations, or any other obstructions, and ensure the area you want people to walk on is well-lit.

– Use more hanging decorations than lawn decorations.  This helps keep your lawn happy and un-squished.

– Weigh your options.  Before you begin to chisel stones for your Halloween graveyard, consider finding a lighter item which will have minimal impact on your lawn.  This is a tough one, since this is a windy time of year, but if there’s something which holds your lawn decorations to the ground, it may be a better option than putting something heavy on your lawn.

If you have some great decorations that are rather heavy, see how much of them you can confine to your porch.

– Add colored lights in unexpected places.  It may seem counter-intuitive to create a spooky atmosphere by adding light, but it can actually help add to the atmosphere by putting up temporary lights of various colors around your property.  This also makes your home that much safer for kids coming to your door.

All in all, consider safety first when you decorate your home for this fun and spooky holiday!

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All About the Lights

Once again, it’s getting darker earlier and it’s a good idea to take a look at your outdoor lighting.

Here are some ideas for lighting up your landscape:

– Walkway lights.  You can get LEDs or low voltage lighting professionally installed by a landscaper to both enhance your walkway, as well as light your step.

– Lights positioned to enhance certain points of your landscape.  Installing spotlights to show off parts of your landscape can both make your yard look wonderful and keep your space nice and bright during the early night.

– String lights in trees and bushes are a delicate way to keep your yard softly lit.

– Overhead lighting – like traditional street lamps, traditional lanterns or Japanese lanterns can defuse the darkness with overall light.

– Holiday lights – for Halloween, Thanksgiving and other holidays are always fun for the family – but can be a bit tough to string up and take down again.  You can also put up temporary decorations which light up a part of your yard.

No matter what choice you make, make sure your home is well-lit for these early dark hours, so both children and adults can have a safe and happy holiday season.

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