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Ask the Expert: Outdoor Lighting

Twilight, that lovely period between sunset and dusk, when light is still visible in the sky and one can find their way around the outdoor garden setting. This typically lasts about 20-30 minutes during the Midwest summers (please don’t quote me on that) and would signal the time to head indoors if it weren’t for all the fabulous options available for outdoor lighting.

The Decorating Den

For those of you lucky enough to have planned ahead with perfectly situated dusk to dawn landscape lighting a good portion of your needs have already been met. Especially the walkways that lead you and your guests into the oasis. But for the rest of us, consider the centuries old tradition of lining those paths with luminarias, wax candles set in sand inside paper bags. I’ve often wondered why the bags don’t catch fire so for the less daring like myself, small outdoor battery operated lanterns will do the trick. If that is not your best option perhaps some strategically placed shepherds hooks along the walkway can be used for those same lanterns. Older guests are most likely to have issues with making sure they are staying on solid footing so pay special attention to this area. Solar lights are easy to set up since they aren’t wired but don’t wait ‘til the last minute to place them because they will need to absorb enough light during the day to glow at night. Check out some of your local nurseries or garden shops for interesting solar powered creatures that can liven up the flower beds or line the walkway.

Anyone who has been to April’s on Main or just passed by our massive storefront windows will have noticed the set of 5 connected color-changing orbs, the largest of which is 20”, smallest 10”. This would surely be the focal point in any outdoor (or indoor) setting.  Just plug into an electric source and place cleverly into the desired area. While there is a controller attached to the set, this product can be accessed via your smartphone, laptop or tablet to create different color effects and speeds.

Novelty lights are available in many shapes and themes and can be used to light fencing, pergolas, garden arches or simply hung in trees. The same white lighting used at Christmas time can now become your serenity light in the garden. Stone statuary that is generally grey can be tightly wrapped in battery operated lights so that the silhouette becomes obvious in the dark. At April’s we carry an outdoor set of battery operated lights with multiple functions and a timer which would make it easier to use inside lanterns, vases, or fillable glass blocks. Or perhaps you can make your own novelty lights by inserting glow sticks into balloons.

Trees provide a myriad of possibilities to add light other than lighting the tree itself.  If you are into a bit of inexpensive crafting try collecting what naturally would end up in the recycle bin – clear glass jelly or sauce jars. The threading at the top of the jars where the lids screwed on provides an easy place to wrap and glue jute for suspending from trees.  Fill the jars with battery operated tea lights and load up the branches with varying lengths and sizes for an enchanting look. Of course for the craft impaired homeowner, there’s always small colorful lanterns or other such hanging candle holders.

Luminara brand candles are the best kind of beautiful. The candles feature a battery-powered device that shines a small light on a movable, wafer-thin plastic flame that appears to flicker when turned on. The technology for the moving flame that is so realistic people will think you lit it with a match was actually licensed by Disney at the time they were using it in their Haunted Mansion attraction. Battery life on their outdoor pillars are 500 hours and their functionality includes 5 hour timers or remote operation. Their indoor candles are made of wax so you will want to make certain you are purchasing the outdoor style for your gardens. All in all, the specs on these candles make them ideal for use on your patio tables, in your lanterns, around the pool or set into the potted plants on your deck. Using a remote control will become the go-to task for the children if they can get it away from the parents.

When it comes to lanterns, we’ve been informed by all of our customers that the selection in the store far exceeds any other place they have looked. It should come as no surprise that lanterns are here to stay, both inside and outside the home. The convenience and safety of using them with battery operated candles or string lights, coupled with the flexibility of changing their looks by season and special occasions makes lanterns the ideal focus for providing atmospheric lighting for your outdoor events. They are adaptable to all settings – walkways, porches, tabletops, decks, and in trees. You can never have too many lanterns. And in case of power outages they will come in quite handy.

Plan on spending lots of quality outdoor time this summer. Create an open air haven that is both inviting and functional with proper lighting so at the first sign of dusk everybody doesn’t express the need to go inside where they can see.

 

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