How to Design a Dramatic Nightscape with Outdoor Lighting: 4 Pro Tips Brought to You by EP Henry

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The “wow” of an awe-inspiring landscape wanes with the sun if it’s not designed with the right lighting. Nightscaping brings back the drama, the functionality and the nighttime curb appeal to a home’s surroundings.

Knowing where and how to use landscape lighting is the key to breathtaking drama.

The “wow” of an awe-inspiring landscape wanes with the sun if it’s not designed with the right lighting. Nightscaping brings back the drama, the functionality and the nighttime curb appeal to a home’s surroundings.

Adding drama is not as simple as adding a few uplights. “Drama is a bigger term that involves excitement, the unexpected, and the impactful,” says expert lighting designer Troy Hornung, owner of Chroma Lighting Design in Havertown, PA, the professionals responsible for the lighting in the new Tropicana Casino in Evansville, IN and the Hard Rock Cafe in Ottawa, Canada. “Drama gets into the emotion. It’s a combination of the environment and lighting.”

Here Mr. Hornung offers 4 types of lighting to add drama and function to a home’s outdoor environment.

1. Dramatic lighting for practical use

“The use of the space will guide the lighting decisions,” Mr. Hornung notes. Security lighting, ambient lighting and lighting for entertainment are three different concerns, but utility lighting doesn’t mean ugly floodlights. Pathways and steps can be lit artistically. “For a client, we hid cool, moonlight-like lights in his trees to light his walkway,” adds Mr. Hornung. “It added a magical kind of feeling. Hiding the light sources is critical to making magic.” Lights for paver walkways, patios and pool decks can be installed as part of the hardscape.

2. Ambience lighting for mood

“We see so many spaces that light only the patio, or the patio table, but the rest of the space fades into darkness,” Mr. Hornung says. Small lights around the edges of the property help give a sense of place and a sense of security. “Adding some cooler wavelength lights around the perimeter of the landscape can make the space seem larger. Cool lights are perceived to be about 10 feet farther away than warmer lights placed in the same spot.” Guests feel more comfortable when the surroundings are defined and not encased in darkness. “Otherwise,” Mr. Hornung adds, “they keep wondering ‘What’s out there?’ It’s an unsettling feeling."

3. Light for entertaining

Entertaining inside still means lighting the outside in an interesting way. “A lot of these homes have awesome views of the property,” says Mr. Hornung. “but without lighting the outside, the home’s window becomes a mirror and you can’t see a thing.” Lighting allows the property to looks nice, and it gives guests some sense of the larger environment. Again, guests’ comfort is a big part of why the home’s outdoors need lighting, even if the event is inside.

4. Highlight the features

Lights bring the eye to the natural and installed architecture of the landscape. Garden walls, retaining walls, shrubs and trees at the edges of the property benefit from strategically placed lights. “Uplighting works for more drama,” suggests Mr. Hornung. “Even if it is just a wall. The shadows are unexpected.” Focal elements like water features, trees, or stone columns need the proper lighting for the “wow” factor to grow. When night falls on the landscape, adding sparkle with indirect installed lighting, string lights, candles, fireplaces or gas lamps will increase the beauty and drama of the space.

Finally, Mr. Hornung advises homeowners to learn about the elements of design, namely functionality (and safety), focal elements and sparkle. “Use layers of light,” he adds. “Be careful of color temperature. Scale the space by lighting the environment around you.”

About EPHenry®

EP Henry®, the oldest American family-owned and operated manufacturer of unit concrete products in North America, provides the highest quality and broadest product offerings in Hardscaping(™). Based in Woodbury, New Jersey, EP Henry manufactures a wide range of paving stone and retaining wall products, including permeable pavers which are a best management practice (BMP) for stormwater management. EP Henry also offers beautiful patio pavers, outdoor kitchen kits, garden wall solutions and more. For more information on EP Henry Hardscaping products, visit or call 800-44-HENRY (800-444-3679).

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