live oaks

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Mike M, Mar 29, 2008.

  1. Mike M

    Mike M LawnSite Bronze Member
    from usa
    Messages: 1,988

    I have a demo coming up with a big live oak at the start of a drive, typical long horizontal branches, nice and airy.

    Does anyone have a basic formula that works for these things, just as a starting point? I understand that each tree has it's own character, but common traits include large exposed horizontal branches.

    There is one massive branch/trunk about 12 feet over the drive. I don't have a pic; I'm not looking for a free design and exact placement, just some general strategies when working with these behemoths. Oh my God, I spelled that right on my first try.


  2. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    sounds like some great moonlighting oppurtunities.... lighting a large tree too brightly in the drive will detract from the main house if its close enough. Definatly need pics on this. There is no formula or magic potion that i am aware of.

    at only 12 ft over the drive your going to need some really soft lights and quite probably some lenses. I used the blue lenses and spread lenses stacked on my last 8 moonlights from unique and they looked pretty nice. You wont get the spread on the ground as much at 8ft as you will from the typical 25 to 30 ft tree mounted light.
  3. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Ok I just have to ask: Is there a difference between a 'live oak tree' and an 'oak tree'?

    I am by no means an arborist, or a horticultural expert, so I really don't know my regional species very well. It seems to me we just call them Oak Trees, whereas you guys in the States always are talking about Live Oaks.

    Is there a 'dead oak':laugh:
  4. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Kingsland, Texas
    Messages: 2,214

    James there are many types of oak trees and they are all shaped differently. I live oak can have very wide canopies with very large limbs.

    Mike, I would have to see it but if you look at the thread that shows our own homes, you will see a very large live oak that I have at my home. This tree is illuminated with 2 up lights (FMW 60s) and 6 down lights. I have also used well lights for some live oaks to catch the outer areas of the canopy. It all depends on the effect you are trying to achieve. I would say that down lighting is the best effect from these trees.
  5. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 886

    James, here in California we have many species of oaks, all having very different canopies. we have live oaks and blue oaks up to 300 years old and massive sprawling canopies. Live oaks are also one of few that are semi deciduous. I'm sure Paul has some oldies there in Texas too. It has taken as many as 10 well lights to up light an oak that was about 200 years old. It was so big that it was still dimly lit. I had an opportunity a while back to light up a 175 year old cork oak, and I'm telling you that was one beautifull tree, but very different from a Live oak. It's crazy when you think that some of these trees were the shade for indians long before the early settlers first came to California.
  6. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Around here our most impressive trees (IMO) are the White Pine and the Tamarack. There still remain a few old growth pines that reach back 200+ years, but for the most part they were all cut down in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Still a 80 to 100 year old White Pine can be a pretty serious tree.

    Lighting a 200+ year old White pine is a blast... they generally are 60' to 100' tall and have main trunks 4' to 6' in diameter. Get out the climbing rig, cause they require up and down lighting at different levels up through the tree.

    Nothing like the Great Redwoods of N. California mind you... now that would be fun.
  7. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    "Semi-deciduous" basically describes them... they do dump a lot of leaves over the course of a year, but usually retain a green canopy.

    Most are botanically "broadleaf evergreens" like many of the native trees and shrubs (Madrone, Bay Laurel, Tan Oak, Manzanita and Toyon for instance).

    There is a Coast Live Oak, Canyon Oak and Interior Live Oak.

    They do lose a lot of leaves over the course of the year, but mostly as new leaves come on in the spring they will lose 2 to 3 yr/ old leaves. Some, like the Engelmann Oak, are also drought-deciduous, meaning they lose a lot of canopy density in the dry season...

    Basically, except for the highest elevations that get winter snow, those our are seasons: wet winter and dry summer.

    There are species of Red Oaks, White Oaks, Blue Oaks and Black Oaks native to California too.

    Anyway, when you hear "live oak" think evergreen.
  8. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Thanks Gregg... as always a great source of information!

    I will count that as 'the thing I learned today'. :)
  9. NightscenesJr

    NightscenesJr LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    hello I have looked at many oaks and the main thing that I have to look at is the location of the tree? Is it in the middle of the yard and you are going to just make it a focal point or fill? You Can Do so much with Large oaks that the view point is also a factor
  10. Mike M

    Mike M LawnSite Bronze Member
    from usa
    Messages: 1,988

    Everyone has made great points. Except that Canadian guy rambling about pine trees. (lol). James, another interesting feature with these oaks, besides being evergreen, is the finer leaf texture (unlike most deciduous oaks) and long horizontal open branching.

    My goal for this particular tree is to see if I can illuminate a portion or portions of it without illuminating a complete tree portrait. Otherwise, I may have to pass up on it all together.

    I guess for the demo I should get there early enough to set up all areas, and then leave a handful of various fixtures for playing with the oak. I'll prep a handful of lights with wider angle spreads and filters.

    Thanks for tips!

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