I am often asked what form of highlighting is best…..uplighting or moonlighting. While both techniques are used to highlight trees, plants and other focal points( waterfalls and fountains), each technique has its own unique benefits. . By varying the distance, angle and design of lights, subtle and dramatic effects can be achieved. This is where lighting design becomes more like art and it helps to be creative.
Regardless of which technique is used, highlighting landscapes should be designed without glare or distraction from the lighting source. Uplighting is a technique where the lights originate from below creating the opposite effect of daylight. Recessed lights are used in flat areas where spikes or fixtures might be unappealing or create hazards for maintenance(lawn mowers) and for people(tripping). These lights are very popular on decks, walls and hillsides. Spikes are usually less expensive than recessed lights and can be moved to accommodate different conditions such as growth or seasonal changes in the landscape. Downlighting involves mounting fixtures to illuminate from above. Examples include attaching to pergolas and trees to simulate moonlight. Cooler light bulbs emit a light blue color like the moon. Upward facing flowers and topiaries are good choices for downlighting since uplighting can create a shadowy effect that would otherwise hide the shape and beauty of the blooms.