Almost everyone is spending more time at home these days. While under ordinary circumstances this might be considered a good thing, the reason for staying within the confines of our property – COVID-19 – is anxiety-producing rather than relaxing. Yet, it is possible to make the best of a bad situation. Spring is here, at least, which is the perfect season for making your yard an attractive retreat. Although it will be a while longer before you can entertain on a grand scale, sprucing up your outdoor space will deliver three immediate big benefits.
- Focusing on a project is a positive activity that will boost your mood, help you feel productive and provide a sense of achievement.
- You’ll be outdoors. In addition to the refreshing, restorative powers of nature, you’ll enjoy a healthy break from the almost constant inundation of bad news on TV and social media that contributes to sustained stress.
- You’ll be able to enjoy the result!
Another plus about making decorative outdoor improvements is that they involve very minimal risk for injury – assuming you don’t trip over a stone or step in a fire ant mound. We can all agree that a hospital emergency room is best avoided no matter what is going in the world, but especially now. Most of the projects we suggest here involve decorative lighting. Our blog post – “How to Use Outdoor Lighting as a Home Improvement” – offers budget-friendly projects. However, if your idea requires a ladder to bring to life, be sure you’re confident about your ability to use it safely.
Home improvement centers and the major big box retail stores (those that include a pharmacy and/or grocery market) are still open for business, as they’re classified as an essential service. If you’re reluctant to venture out for decorative lights, all of the items mentioned here are available online.
Fight cabin fever by decorating your yard
Office workers who are now working remotely from home can feel especially at odds with themselves. After all, it is not easy for most of us to stay put in our home, especially when you are used to going out every day. Staying at home can result in irritability and restlessness – otherwise known as cabin fever. Even the few pleasant breaks in the day that one could look forward to – such as meeting friends for lunch – are not currently an option.
Finding creative outlets is born out of necessity. When you can’t leave home to enjoy your regular activities, thinking inside the box can help fight boredom and a sense of confinement. So take a leisurely stroll through your property. Make note of ways that your patio, deck, walkway, garden or other area can be improved. Then make a plan. You don’t need to be a professional designer. Use your imagination! We’re about to give you some great ideas and inspiration to start with!
String lights and design ideas
One way of transforming your yard is to use string lights – which are economical, relatively easy to arrange and can be used to create any number of beautiful effects. HGTV provides 10 Ways to Amp Up Your Outdoor Space With String Lights, with photos of results that you’ll be eager to duplicate. We highly recommend you read the entire HGTV blog post, but here’s a brief summary.
Light up your umbrella – If you have a patio table umbrella, string the lights around the perimeter of the umbrella – or for extra effect, line the inside of the umbrella by following the lines of the umbrella seams.
Light up your patio – Use anchor points such as a fence, rooftop or even some strategically added wooden posts to attach the lights in a zigzag pattern across your outdoor space. If you have a very large space, consider using the lights to break up the space and create different areas.
Brighten up your balcony – If you’re an apartment or condo dweller, you’re probably spending more time on your balcony, so why not dress it up? Hang lights along the balcony wall, string them around the balcony ceiling or outline your patio door.
Brighten up your gazebo – Line the perimeter of the gazebo with lights, or do a combination of perimeter and zigzag strings of light. Depending on your structure, you can use string lights both across the ceiling and on the sides.
Light up a lantern – Fill a lantern with string lights to create a point of interest on a patio table, ledge, etc. Use multiples and place throughout your patio area.
Light up your trees – You can keep things simple and wrap just one tree, or go all out and wrap a number of trees on your property. White lights will keep the look elegant and add upscale sparkle.
Create artwork – String lights in a pattern on a patio wall, or line up in rows to create visual impact. This can create a great backdrop for a pool or grill area.
Make a chandelier – Hanging string lights from a tree, an awning or even a gazebo in straight lines creates a chandelier look. To achieve greater visual interest and drama, hang each line of lights at varying lengths.
How to handle a light path
Solar-powered landscape lights are a popular option for lighting walkways and garden paths. In addition to adding curb appeal and safety, solar-powered landscaping lights offer several benefits – including easy installation, no wires or electrical outlets and no increase in your utility bill.
While they’re relatively economical, you get what you pay for. Solar-powered lights don’t shine as brightly as their wired counterparts, and budget-priced lights provide dimmer illumination than higher-quality models. Also, if the area you plan to line with solar-power lights is shaded during most of the day, they won’t be able to store enough solar energy to produce adequate light in the evening. Best results are achieved when solar-powered lights receive six to eight hours of sun.
“As a general rule, plan on placing lights six to eight feet apart to keep your pathway bright and well-lit. But don’t be afraid to space them even closer, especially if you want a particularly vivid effect. In fact, if you already have an overhead light or dimmer installed nearby, you can go even wider than eight feet apart. It really all depends on what you prefer.
”However, if you’re adding the lights as a safety feature along a pathway, you’ll want to carefully weigh the brightness when you decide how frequently to place them. Electric pathway lights are typically twice as bright as solar, so you’ll need to use more solar lights than you’re used to [in order to] get the same effect along your path.”
In addition to merely lighting the way, the Modernize article points out that solar-powered lights can be used to create decorative outdoor lighting effects, which include the following.
Uplighting – Place lights on the ground along walls or other barriers and position them upward to create a bright burst of light. Or try setting lights against tree trunks or bushes to highlight standout foliage.
Downlighting – Placing the light higher and angling the source downwards, known as downlighting, is a good way to diffuse light across a larger surface area, such as over a patio or deck.
Grazing – Similar in concept to uplighting, grazing highlights a textured material, like a stone wall or veneer, letting and shadows play across the different surface areas.
Silhouetting – Positioning a single light behind a stunning tree or other feature of interest shows off this piece by flooding it with back light.
Spotlights – Solar landscaping lights can even replace floodlights and other outdoor safety lighting on doors and near the driveway. Solar spotlights typically light as effectively as a 40-watt bulb, so several lights clustered together can create a very bright effect. Many models even include motion-sensors, as well.
So there you have it! Hopefully, just reading these suggestions for outdoor lighting projects has already made you enthusiastic about putting your time and energies into positive action that will ultimately pay off in many ways!
While we at The Paint Manager are still here for you, please keep in mind that at the present time, our professional contractors are only available for exterior jobs. Of course, we will let our valued members know when we are again able to provide our full range of services. As always, we appreciate your support! We are in this together! Feel free to contact us to schedule an appointment or ask questions. Stay safe!