Deck and Patio Lighting Thoughts

One of the primary motivators for the homeowner in considering a patio or deck area as an add-on to their home is its entertainment value. Cruise the neighborhood during the day and you will more than likely see only a few people using the patio or deck. However, as evening approaches the story changes. When parent(s) come home from work or when it’s the right time to plan a party for friends and relatives, the patio or deck is frequently used as the center of festivities that often last well into the night.

During the planning stages, it’s important to include a lighting plan to make sure that the patio and deck area are not only well-lighted but that the lighting design creates a magical effect for its visitors.

Starting with the most elegant (and usually the most expensive) deck and patio lighting we can take a look at lights that are built-in to the foundation elements of the patio or deck. These lights provide a soft uplight glow that can mark a pathway or just provide a non-functional source of beauty. The lights are generally installed by contractors during the patio and deck construction and are generally not a project that the average DIY should consider tackling. I’ve seen this type of lighting done in a variety of colors and have even seen systems that automatically change the colors during the course of the evening, providing a mood-altering effect.

Dimmers are also a worthwhile investment for ground level lighting, allowing the host to increase or decrease the intensity of the lighting depending on the mood desired. Ground lighting is very safe since the lights themselves are never in contact with the visitors. Contractors will make sure that the process for changing the bulbs is simple and straightforward.

Speaking of dimmers, it’s generally a good idea to keep your entire deck and patio lighting system under dimmer control. Bright moonlight can allow you to turn the lighting down a bit while dark moonless nights can prompt you to boost the light up a bit.

Ground level lighting can also be used to frame the patio or deck area particularly if you’ve planted shrubbery or other low plantings around the area.

Down lighting is another type of deck and patio lighting. As the name implies, this is lighting from above and can be used to simulate moonlight. Besides being a natural lighting source, down lighting also enhances the security of the area because a lighted deck or patio usually leaves the impression the there’s someone at home.

A creative way to use this as a security feature is to have your doorbell circuit tied into a switch that at least temporarily turns the down lights on.

Most down lighting is accomplished by the use of either or both floodlights and spotlights. The floodlight will provide more ambient lighting by illuminating the entire deck or patio area while spotlights can be used as task lighting to highlight such areas as stairways and entryways. Spotlights can also be used to accent special features such as fountains, plantings or cooking and eating areas.

Many deck and patio lighting is installed at the waist level to keep any glare away from the face and to provide an elegant touch. Some lighting can also be installed at the top of posts that are at the top of stairways or other areas that separate one part of the deck or patio from another.

Some homeowners use strip or rope lights to highlight the porch or deck railing or other areas that need special attention such as stair risers or seating areas. If you live in an area where you can use a deck or patio during the winter holiday season, give some thought to decorating the area with lighting that can be used year-round.

Have fun with your lighting plan for your deck or patio. Most of the lighting is relatively inexpensive and can be removed or modified relatively easily. You may want to divide your plan into lights, which need to be permanently installed, and lights that are movable and optional.

Please don’t get carried away with deck and patio lighting plans. This type of lighting is best understated although some decorative lighting such as hurricane lamps or tiki torches (used in moderation) are OK.

Bugs are often a problem at night and several manufactures offer lights that discourage or repel flying pests. Sometimes a bright light, strategically placed in a tree a bit away from the patio or deck will help keep these insects occupied elsewhere rather than with your guests.

Above all, keep in mind that you want to create a magic environment that will encourage visitors to congregate and socialize late into the evening.

Planters Accent Your Home and Garden

The right planter in the right setting brings style, function and beauty to any indoor room or outdoor location. Planters can be used as a unique focal point or a graceful accent in any garden, patio, porch or room. The secret is finding the perfect planter – one that reflects the owner’s personality and surroundings while maintaining lasting durability. 

Planters come in a large variety of shapes, sizes, designs, materials and price points, which makes some planters a better choice than others. In today’s market, the unlimited assortment can also create unlimited indecision. Knowing a few useful tips can simplify the decision-making process and help consumers purchase plantersthat will bring years of pleasure. 

Considerations Before Purchasing A Planter   

o Location (shade, sun, extreme weather)                                                                                        

o Maneuverability                                                                                                             

o Size, Shape, Style, Color, Finish, Texture                                                            

o Drainage Hole and/or Self-Watering Options                                                                     

o Durability & Longevity                                                                                                     

o Artistic/Decorative Impact                                                                                               

o Reflect Personality of Owner/Home/Surroundings                                                                                                  

o Materials (Learn the advantages and disadvantages of planter materials such as clay, terracotta, concrete, metal, wood, resin, fiberglass, etc.)                                                                                                                

o Storage Concerns

A great way to get started is to purchase a matching set of various sized planters ranging from three, five or seven in total. Five containers used in a corner of a patio will help define your entertainment space. This grouped planter display can provide privacy and help tie in your overall outdoor living area. Don’t be afraid of using bright and vivid containers such as oranges, iridescent blues and reds. These colors can help liven up outdoor spaces.

Combining plants is a fun part of container gardening. Try mixing and matching different plants such as annuals, tropicals, perennials, trees, shrubs, vines and vegetables. Before planting, arrange the new plants in or around your container while they are still in their small pots to see how they fit best. A good rule of thumb is to plant the tallest upright foliage plant in the center. Next, plant the shorter and more compact flowering plant to the side of the center, near the edge of the planter. Leave enough space between these plants to allow for growth. Finally, place plants with trailing or semi-trailing growth habits around the planters’ outer edges leaving enough space for adequate spreading and trailing.

A word of caution: Also remove new plants from their nursery pots with care. Never remove them by pulling on their tender stems. Gently loosen or untangle the bottom inch of each plant’s roots before carefully spreading them out in your planter. This helps give young plants a better start. Additional potting mix can be added to ensure the soil covers the roots of each plant. When your planting is finished, the soil should be at least an inch below the rim of the container.

Gardening with planters is a great way for beginning and experienced gardeners to dig into the botanical world. And best of all, you can take your planter garden with you when you move.

Outdoor Wall Plaques – Inspirational and Informative Decoration

Throughout my home, from the library to the bathrooms, the walls are adorned to exhume beauty and uniqueness. As a home designer I have had the good fortune of creating my habitat from all that my imagination holds. Living in the Midwest there are an abundance of months that you are held captive inside your quarters. Being in this environment has clearly given me the opportunity to have my place just the way I wanted it to turn out. Having lived in California my heart yearned for the seasons to change. I needed to see new growth form on the trees and to hear the birds chirp again. I desperately desired to make my outside come alive just like the inside.

As the season finally changed to sunshine and warmth, I could actually feel my body and soul uplifted. I ran around the entire house opening all the windows while humming and smiling thinking of the projects that I could hardly wait to start. There was the entire outside area that waited for my hands and thoughts to work their magic. I could hardly wait to get started.

First things first. I needed to remove all the dead leaves and brush that had accumulated over the winter months. Next I went all around searching to see what survived and what needed help with some tender loving care. Gently and lovingly working many hours I revived some plants and added many different kinds of colorful flowers and vegetation.

After completing this task my front and back yard shined with brilliance and beauty but it still felt like something else was needed. Looking around, my walls and fence seemed to be dull and bare. How could I make them part of this theme and complete the picture that I was after? Realizing that inside my home I had adorned the walls with numerous wall d├ęcor, why couldn’t I continue with the same artistic qualities outside.

Trying to decide what type of wall decor would blend and ablaze the yard with beauty was relatively easy. It came to mind almost instantaneously. Wall plaques would dramatically fulfill the outcome with their words and statue. They tend to add dimension to any bare area they cover.

Decorative outdoor wall plaques are unique accent pieces that adorn your patio, garden or other outdoor area. Most outdoor wall plaques are flat plates or disks which are beautifully chiseled, ornamented or engraved. They can be used as a decoration, information or identification. Best of all, you can mix and match materials and styles to ensure a look that is unique to your home.

Whether you prefer elegance, artistic or modern, there are an abundance of styles to match your own. The themes range from animals, nature, floral, sun, moon, to inspirational words. They are available in materials such as: wood, stone, pewter, crystal, glass, and ceramic, marble, iron and resin. Resin seems to be the most popular for today’s garden style. It is most affordable, light weight and is highly resistant to wear and tear for the extremities of weather conditions. You can locate wall plaques that are hand made, hand painted, sculptured or custom made to your specifications.

One of my favorite outdoor wall plaques is a simple design that I have placed on my white PVC fence in the center of the yard. It is made of wrought iron and has the words Live, Love and Laugh. They add visual interest and inspire me daily. The other wall plaque that I am quite found of is one that was custom made. It resides above my entry way and has all of our family names upon it. Below it also states our address and I get comments on it whenever a new person visits.

If you’re stumped for a unique gift, this is one of-a-kind and will be cherished for life especially if he or she is a garden enthusiast. Have an inspirational saying with the persons name engraved and you will be remembered always.

Whatever outdoor wall plaques you choose, I can assure you it will add color, spice up the property surrounding your home and be appreciated by all for many years to come.