Path lights not on a path?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by all ferris, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. all ferris

    all ferris LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,309

    I see lots of guys around using path lights out in the middle of a landscape and all it lights up is mulch, decorative rock, or the bottom half of a shrub. Whats the deal with this? I only use path lights to light up a "path". I don't place them out in the middle of nowhere. Am I missing something?
  2. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    occaisonally a path light in a landscape area makes sense- for a small statuary, or a smaller focus rock, a flower garden, some times a small welcome or address sign, or lighting a "path" to walk in the grass on the outside of a landscape bed, even though there is no official hard surface path there. but I do see a lot of paths where paths do not belong. it is just poor design.
  3. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,510

    Security purposes?
  4. all ferris

    all ferris LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,309

    I agree 100%.

    I see lots of guys around here installing path lights in the middle of the landscape when they are installing the landscape. Then 3-5 years later the plants have grown so much that the light is hidden by the shrubs. :hammerhead:
  5. NightScenes

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

    These fixtures are actually known as path/spread lights and are made for more than path lighting. High end landscapes are designed with seasonal color to be changed out a couple of times a year. The path/spread light fixture is used here to accent this seasonal color and fill in between other lighting accents. This is good lighting design.

    If the home owner does not maintain their landscape, it's not the fault of the lighting designer. I have used this lighting design many times and will continue to do so. I do let the home owner know why I am using this technique and that they need to continue to maintain their landscape.
  6. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,313

    I am working (slowly) on my first lighting job for a client. She wants spotlights on the house. I showed her what spots looked like on half the house. (symetrical facade). She was fine with it. I also need some light on her low growing plants in the front landscape bed to give some depth to the lighting.
    I didn't have any lights to show her but when I mentioned path lights, she said no. I then realized my mistake was not calling them spread lights which was my real purpose. Even after I told her the purpose, she said no. I think she was picturing "path" lights like you would buy in a big-box store. I am going to try to correct my mistake by getting some path / spread lights to demonstrate to her.

    So, answering the original question, yes there are other uses for these "path" lights.
  7. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    Try using a wall wash in the beds for the low growing plants. I've had good success with the Cast Wall Wash in this application. It blends in really well during the day and gives a more natural looking effect at night.
  8. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    I personally wouldn't use the Wall Wash for most low growing plant applications - it's too bright and sheds too much light on the ground.

    We have a new series of fixtures - The CAST Mini Wash Series - available with canopy and stake mounts, and extendable stems - in both LED and incandescent. It casts a wide (120 degree), diffuse beam, with no discernible hot spots. It is also shrouded across the top to make it dark-sky friendly. It's a great fixture for planting beds and retaining walls (when stake mounted), and for mounting under eaves (canopy mounted) for diffuse down-lighting - canopy and stem can be removed for an even lower profile.




  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    a path light that gets buried in a shrub was probably put too close to shrub in the first place. I agree with flowers being lit by paths. I may get hammered by this, but I am not so sure about lighting small shrubs or low growing plants, even though it may add depth when viewing the lights from the yard or street. I tend to gravitate to light a plant that is intersting to look at during the day, or maybe a plant or object that will create a neat effect when lit at night such as shadow, water, or gazing ball. just my opinion.
  10. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 886

    I use taller path or area lights all the time. The purpose is not to necessarily light mulch as it is to visually connect with 2 focal points or trees that too apart and appear 'disconnected'. A lighting bridge as Nate Mullen calls it. I believe in illuminating the landscape and incidentally getting the pathways. I rarely use a path light to light paths, don't like how prominent the fixture becomes. I want to see the light not the fixture. By using area lights 24" to 48" high in amongst the shrubs, they blend in and the landscape become the target, not the concrete.

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