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Help with arborvitae hedge

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by ckstou, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. ckstou

    ckstou LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Hello Everyone,
    My name is Chris and I'm new to this site. I've been lurking for a few weeks and I love soaking in all of the expertise that you offer. With regards to lighting, I am a DIY'er. I understand that this is mostly for pros but I'm going to ask for help and hope for the best. Thank You in advance.

    I have a row of 20 arbovitae's as a privacy hedge along the side of my property line. I have tried lighting them with well lights (par 36 25W VWFL). I put each well light in between every two trees. I'm not very happy with the look, however. The trees on the right are fuller and soak up so much light that it is barely visible. I have between 6-10 inches in front of the trees to play with. Any Suggestions? Again, Thanks in advance.





  2. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    Bed edge needs to come out. Your much too close to the plants in my opinion. I would also ditch the wells in favor of a stake mounted fixture and do some seasonal or other smaller plantings to help conceal the lights. Not sure your par 25watt lamp is going to cut it especially if your not in the upper 11v range.
  3. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,196

    I agree with Pro-Scapes, widen the bed, and replace wells with bullets if you can. This image is not a great example - I would position the bullets aiming between each bush (eliminating the hot spot). Using a narrow spot would add contrast to the scene.

  4. klkanders

    klkanders LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 848

    Take the well lights out and save them for some other trees on your property. Make your beds more interesting in front of your arborvitae. Get some curves going and maybe add some plants and boulders (great for helping hide fixtures as well) for more interest. This will allow you to move your fixtures out farther for a more subdued light. Try a rectangular wall wash fixture on them spaced far enough apart to leave some shadowing in between.

    Good Luck!
  5. BrandonV

    BrandonV LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,224

    also a heads up from a tree guy's perspective, need to thin those out. take out ever other one, when they start growing together they'll brown/die out where they touch leaving them weaker.
  6. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    wow what an original idea lol
  7. Tomwilllight

    Tomwilllight LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    After deciding what you are going to light the next big question you should ask is "where can I locate my luminaires so they will have the longest effective throw that will achieve my design goals?"

    Throw is the distance between the light source and what is lighted. The inverse-square law describes how quickly the intensity of the light is reduced as the light source is moved away from the object lighted.

    This means that the decision to place the uplight BETWEEN the arborvitae automatically gives the light just a little more throw and can help the designer to avoid "hot spots".

    Hot spots may appear on the part of any tree or shrub that is closest to the light, or that is located perpendicular to the beam. Hot spots are a problem created by too much light on too little area and/or the area is too reflective.

    Steve's suggestion works because it lengthens the throw of the center beam and lessens the possibility of lighting a branch or leaf that reflects a maximum amount of light because of it's orientation.

    Certainly, there are other ways to deal with this problem; you can use a lower wattage lamp, use a lens to defuse the light or use screen to lower intensity. But each of these are more complicated and take more time than just putting the light in the right place the first try.

    In your case, I agree with both Pro-Scapes and Mr. Parrott, you should make the bed wider... you will have more throw and your lighting will look better.


    Reference <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverse-square_law>
  8. ckstou

    ckstou LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    :)First Off, I want to thank you all for your advice. I just have a couple more questions.

    1. What would you think would be the minimum distance between the fixture and the arbovitaes? I can widen the bed but not by much.

    2. Should I use bullets with 20W 60 degree mr-16's or a wall wash type fixture?

    3. BrandonV - are you sure about the arbovitaes? It took four years to finally get some privacy now I have to take some out. Does it make a difference that they are Nigra and not Emerald Green?:confused:

    Thanks again to all of you

  9. Tomwilllight

    Tomwilllight LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    #1 I don't know. Move them around until it looks good to you. This is lighting design... not auto mechanics.

    #2 Try both bullet and wall wash if you can. It's not that great an investment. You may find there's a reason they're called "wall washers" and not arborvitae washers.

    As for lamps... Try all you can. 20W 60, 20W 40 and spot. Find out what you like.

    #3 Brandon is right, the crowding will eventually be a problem. I've had many clients accept the dead branches for privacy. Your call again.

  10. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    You might be able to just thin out selected brances as needed.

    There is an awful lot of turf in front of that bed so I see no reason you cant just bring the bed out 24 to 36 inches. It will be alot more appealing too with some smaller bedding plants in front of it.

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