Sidewalk lights are necessary for safety, but they also add greater dimension to your landscape after dark.
There are three main power options — hardwired, solar, or a combination of the two. Hardwired lights are usually dependable since a string of cloudy lights won't leave them dim. They are a little more difficult to install since an underground power supply must be put in. Although the power cords can lay on the ground between lights, buried installation is preferred for both appearance and safety.
Solar lights have come a long way, and most can store some excess power for those days when the amount of sun was less than ideal for a full charge. Modern solar panels can also recharge, albeit at a slower rate, even if there is some cloud cover. The benefit of solar is that they are easy to install and they will work even in the event of a power outage. If power outages are your main concern, then a combination system is the best answer.
The next question to answer is about intensity needs. For areas that aren't completely dark due to ambient lighting from porches, street lamps, and other landscape lighting, high-intensity lights may not be necessary. Instead, a soft glow that helps mark out the sidewalk or pathway location is sufficient to the needs.
In darker areas, on winding sidewalks, or on uneven walks that pose more of a safety hazard, higher intensity lighting may be necessary. To avoid glares and light blindness, opt for lights that have shields on them to aim light at the paving and feet, not up into the face and eyes of those on the sidewalk. Also, consider whether intensity needs are better met with dimmer lights or with just a few brighter lights.
Curb Appeal Concerns
Curb appeal is the last thing to consider. "Painting with light" allows you to add some beauty to your landscape, even when the colours of the garden aren't visible after dark. Soft pools of light are typically preferred over bright beams. Colour can also be used, such as green or yellow lights, to add further warmth to the landscape after dark.
One common mistake is to install lights with deft precision at even intervals along a walkway. Although not unattractive, this is visually uninteresting. Instead, consider staggering lights on either side of the path. You may even want to vary the height of each light for more visual interest or to highlight a path side item, such as a statue.
Contact an outdoor lighting installation service for more pointers with lighting landscape paths.