Outdoor Path Lighting Overview
As the sun sets, unlighted pathways become treacherous and then unusable. The first goal of pathway lighting is to make the pathway useable during the nighttime hours. But you don't just want the pathway to be functional. You want it to look inviting. You want it to beckon.
To pursue the goal of safety, walk along the pathway during the day. Take careful notice of the automatic adjustments you make to stay on the path. Pay especial attention to places where the ground is uneven or where you have to step up or step down. Use stakes or wire flags to mark these potential hazards. Also take note of any turns or slopes. You'll want to mark these as well
Having done that, you can start planning for how to light these areas. Angle lights at the slopes so that it's clear the ground isn't level there. Place lights at the turns so that the walker doesn't go wandering off into the garden. Spotlight steps and tripping hazards, paying close attention to the shadows. You don't want to accidentally conceal one hazard by exposing another.
But as we say, that's only the beginning. You'll want the path to have a style as well. Perhaps the simple style is best. Understated bollard lamps-simple little posts that shine light downward-may be the answer. Or black mushroom lamps atop slim poles may be what you're looking for. On the other hand, traditional Victorian lampposts may be more appealing. Cedar or treated lumber may seem more down to earth. Lamps that look like birdhouses or lighthouses or birds or frogs may add the touch of whimsy that you seek.
You want to place these lamps in order to provide a safe journey, of course. But you also want to show off the best features of your yard or garden. Place the lights strategically so that it isn't just bare grass or stepping stones that get the benefit of the illumination. A colorful flower bed would be a great thing to light up. A pond should also have the benefit of light dancing across its surface. Even a simple shrub can take on an otherworldly look if it's lit from the right angle.
Make sure that all the lights direct their illumination downward. You don't want anyone being distracted by the glare. Not only is this unsafe, it fails to show off your path and garden to their best advantage.
A wide variety of lights can be had in low voltage variety. Especially if you're a do-it-yourselfer, you'll want to consider this option. Just about everything you want to do can be done just as effectively and more safely with low voltage lighting. And you won't have to go through the hassle of getting a building permit!