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Outdoor in Ground Lighting: What to Consider

May. 23, 2024

When planning a landscape lighting project, numerous factors come into play when selecting the right luminaire. In ground outdoor lights, also known as in grade or well lights, offer a wide range of options in terms of shapes, sizes, wattages, and color temperatures, each suited for different aspects of landscaping.

What exactly is in ground lighting, and how does it differ from traditional above ground outdoor lighting? 

In ground outdoor lighting involves fixtures installed below ground level, set into dug holes so that their tops align with the ground surface, providing a seamless appearance. In contrast, above ground lighting can also be used outdoors, but their finished look differs as these fixtures protrude from the ground, lacking the seamless integration of in grade lighting. In ground lights are commonly utilized to illuminate various outdoor areas such as walkways, driveways, trees, gardens, hardscapes, and aquatic features.

A significant advantage of in grade lighting is its flush installation with the ground, making it less susceptible to damage from foot traffic, lawnmowers, or other outdoor equipment. Additionally, most in ground lighting fixtures are designed to be weather-resistant, ensuring durability even in harsh outdoor conditions.


In-Ground Outdoor Lighting

Types of In Ground Lighting

Accent lights are compact in ground fixtures crafted to accentuate specific landscape elements like small trees, shrubs, flower beds, or hardscape features such as steps, stairs, and sculptures. They serve as an excellent means to create focal points in gardens or draw attention to specific areas.

Well lights, also known as recessed lights, are in ground fixtures installed within a well or sleeve. These lights are engineered to emit a broad wash of light, making them ideal for illuminating expansive areas like driveways, walkways, and patios. They can also be employed to highlight architectural elements such as columns or statues.

Beacon lights are in ground luminaires designed to offer directional guidance. They are perfect for illuminating the edges of walkways, driveways, and other areas requiring clear directional signals.


When and Where to Use In Ground Lighting

In grade fixtures serve various purposes in outdoor spaces. They can outline the edges of pathways, enhancing visibility and delineating the path's boundaries. Additionally, they are suitable for driveways, with larger fixtures capable of bearing the weight of vehicles without damage. Their size also accommodates higher wattages, ensuring ample illumination.

In ground lighting proves effective for highlighting trees within the landscape. Placing lights at the base of a tree creates a focal point, accentuating the greenery and adding nighttime interest. These fixtures come in a range of colors, enabling the foliage to be highlighted effectively. Moreover, they can be utilized to create a dramatic effect by illuminating the trunk and branches of the tree.

Another application of in grade luminaires is in water features such as fountains and reflecting pools. Their recessed installation offers a concealed appearance while providing sufficient light output during nighttime, enhancing the allure of water features after dark.


Important Considerations for Outdoor In Ground Lighting

When selecting in ground liner lighting, it's crucial to consider various factors such as style, size, and purpose. For instance, when illuminating specific landscape features, choosing lights that match in size, wattage, and color temperature is essential. Larger features like big trees, gated entryways, sizable columns, or expansive water features typically require higher wattage to adequately cover the area.

Another aspect to ponder with in ground outdoor lighting is the choice between dimmable and non-dimmable lights. Dimmable lights offer the flexibility to adjust brightness levels, which can be advantageous for altering ambiance or meeting changing lighting requirements. Conversely, non-dimmable lights provide consistent illumination, ideal for situations where light adjustment isn't necessary.

Additionally, selecting the appropriate light color and brightness is paramount for in ground outdoor lighting. The light color significantly influences the ambiance of outdoor spaces; for instance, warm white lights create a cozy and inviting atmosphere, while cool white lights evoke a modern and sophisticated feel. Matching the light color and brightness to the desired ambiance enhances the overall outdoor experience.




1. Where Can Outdoor In-Ground Lighting Be Used?

Outdoor in-ground lighting finds widespread application in illuminating gardens and landscapes. These lights effectively highlight various features within a garden, including trees, shrubs, and floral arrangements. Additionally, they serve as practical solutions for illuminating pathways and walkways. Installed flush with the ground, they seamlessly blend into the surroundings during the day, yet provide safe and well-lit pathways for pedestrians at night, thereby reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.


2. What Type of In-Ground Lighting Should I Use for My Projects?

Selecting the appropriate luminaire for a project hinges on several factors, such as area size, desired light effect, and whether it will be installed underwater. In most cases, a combination of lights is utilized to achieve the desired effect, especially in spaces with diverse lighting needs.


For accent lighting or illuminating small areas, compact luminaires ranging between 1-2W are recommended. These are ideal for highlighting smaller greenery, short steps or stairs, and small to medium-sized sculptures.


For wall washing applications, medium to large-sized luminaires are preferable. The choice depends on the length and height of the wall to be illuminated. For average wall heights (approximately one story high), standard medium-sized in-ground lights suffice. However, for taller walls (2+ stories high), larger luminaires with higher wattages are more suitable.

In-Ground Outdoor Lighting

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