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Using Light to Make the Most of Your Outdoor Living Space

Light pollution

This lighted scene used multiple effects of grazing, spot lighting, and up-lighting.

Light pollution is the result of improperly shielded outdoor lighting that directs light into the night sky. Poorly planned lighting can also cause light trespass into unwanted areas, such as a neighbour’s windows.

In the past 100 years, our sky has turned from one that is black and star-lit to one with a dull orangey glow, disrupting circadian rhythms and causing hormone imbalances of all living organisms. The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) was created in 1988 to guard against sky-glow, and since then, many cities worldwide have joined.

To minimize your ecological footprint, consider the following:

  • Keep up-lights to a minimum and avoid shining them straight up into the sky. Fixtures with cowls should be specified to direct the light. Also, use down-lights wherever possible.
  • Avoid using bright or unnecessary lights. Amazingly, studies prove security lighting has no effect on crime at all. Keep lighting subtle and select a lower lumen output.
  • Set a timer to how you use your outdoor space to help save energy costs. Technology is available to allow you set different weekday and weekend cycles.
  • Choose an LED landscape lighting system for its low-energy consumption.

Although its impact often has the greatest effect, outdoor lighting is the much-needed final, yet frequently overlooked step in many landscaping plans. Why leave your gorgeous outdoor space invisible after sunset? Make maximum use of your investment and don’t dare disregard those fascinating, enchanting, and captivating outdoor lights.

Since 2001, award-winning landscape designer and garden writer, Melanie Rekola, has been making backyard dreams a reality. Offering inspired landscape design and consultative services throughout Ontario, and remotely to contractors throughout Canada and the U.S., she is one of the luck few to have found their life’s passion. Rekola can be contacted via e-mail at For more information, visit her website

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