Landscape Contractor Relies on Manufacturer to Fine Tune Desertscape Lighting
By Andrew Soto, LC/DBM
The owners of a home located in Cave Creek, Ariz., decided they needed to shine a light on their home's nighttime desertscape. To get the job done they enlisted the help of Desert Foothills Landscape and Brilliance LED.
The lighting team provided the lamps and technical knowhow for the lighting on this project and Desert Foothills Landscape out of Cave Creek, Ariz., installed the landscape including the plants and lighting fixtures. The Desert Foothills install team was faced with many challenges including very hard soil, limited and challenging access for heavy equipment, and the need for a complete drainage system.
Assessing The Situation
Before getting started on a project like this, Cole Wdowiak of Desert Foothills Landscape, lead contractor on the project, recommends taking the scope of the work involved into account before planning. The lighting on this job, one of the most important aspects of the project, was just one part of the overall work done to achieve the final look.
"Access to the project's location was restricted due to small winding roads not designed for heavy equipment," said Wdowiak. "Getting the equipment, materials and the crew to the home's remote location presented a much bigger challenge than we anticipated."
Tackling The Job Head-On
Desert Foothills' team had to completely prepare the site for installation. There was nothing there when the build team arrived except a considerable amount of labor and prep work. The installation team worked on the project for over four weeks with a total of 10 men involved throughout the process. Foundation work, strategic boulder placement, and the creation of different textures, colors, and elevations were applied, changing the overall look and feel of the terrain.
Trees and cacti were carefully placed using a crane and heavy loader. Desert Foothills Landscape owns and operates private growing yards which produce a variety of vegetation and unique cacti, covering a wide spectrum of interest. Desert Foothills grew all of the fully mature Saguaro cacti for this project.
Illuminating The Nighttime Desertscape
The remote location of the home posed more than logistical challenges. The home sits in an area that gets very dark after sunset. The owners wanted to achieve a level of visibility that would provide ample safety without polluting the landscape with obtrusive light.
"The area gets pitch black at night, it is in the middle of nowhere, you can't even see your hand if you held it in front of your face," said Wdowiak. "To get this right, we had to call in people who know lamps, in this particular case we called in a local manufacturer, Brilliance LED. They made all of the lamp selections and adjustments, zeroing in on the homeowner's request for a safe and welcoming nighttime landscape."
Desert Foothills' installation technicians worked in tandem with the manufacturer's lighting professionals. Desert Foothills' team installed a variety of spotlights, downlights, well lights, path lights and uplights to serve as a starting point for the lighting team to work from.
Working with a complete and professionally installed lighting system; the manufacturer's team decided what lamps to use and how to position them. They created the appropriate viewpoints accenting the vegetation and features of the landscape, without polluting the natural feel of the area with unnecessary light.
"Lighting is a skill, something that I unfortunately have not yet mastered," said Wdowiak. "Although I understand the installation process of lighting fixtures, this project would not have been a success without the manufacturer's lighting professionals."
The allure of the nighttime sky is what motivates many people to leave cities and suburbs in search of places untouched by light pollution. Lighting is often at the top of the list for these transplants as they quickly realize living in remote and secluded locations necessitates proper lighting. To that end, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has some helpful advice for anyone installing lighting systems with the preservation of the nighttime sky in mind.
• Only be on when needed
• Only light the area that needs it
• Be no brighter than necessary
• Minimize blue light emissions
• Be fully shielded pointing downward
• Look for the IDA's seal of approval on lighting products