Are you wondering “what options do I have for lighting my long dark driveway?”
This is a question we get asked quite often at Mike’s Landscape Lighting. We have large estates out here in the suburbs and this is a common problem our designers work on weekly.
Most people call into our office and ask for path lights to light their driveway. Path lights are low-mounted fixtures, usually 18” tall, with the light aimed toward the ground. These are used often (too much in my opinion) for lighting steps and sidewalks going up to a home or business. Path lights do a great job but require too much maintenance to keep them level. Installing path lights along a driveway poses a lot more challenges. First off, you will need to worry about cars hitting them and breaking them. We also have a four-letter word, SNOW, that we worry about here in the Midwest! If you install path lights along a driveway that gets snow plowed, the path lights will get broken by the plow or the snow coming off the plow. Path lights are a very bad option for lighting a driveway. Check out our gallery for Path lights to see the different options available.
Downlights are a great way to light a long and dark driveway. What is a down light and how do they work? A downlight is a spotlight or flood light mounted up high and shines down to a specific area. These lights can be mounted up in a tree, on the side of a building, or mounted on a pole (much like a parking lot light). Downlights are great for lighting a driveway because they are up high and out of the way for anyone to drive over them or get broken by a snowplow. Downlights can also light up a wide area with only one fixture and provide a soft even light across the driveway. The goal is not to light every inch of the driveway but to use light to guide your guests in the right direction with light strategically placed along the driveway. Downlights do require maintenance when they are mounted on a tree, or the tree will start growing around the fixture and wiring. Check out the downlight section of our lighting gallery on our website here.
Bollards are a more decorative way to light along a driveway. The bollards we use at Mikes Landscape Lighting can withstand the snow from a snowplow. The bollards are made of steel, and we mount them on a 6”X6” post buried in concrete. They can handle quite a bit of abuse and they are attractive. There are 10 different designs to choose from (ivy, spiral, mission, grove, etc.) and they can be natural rust color or powder-coated in black or bronze. The light source is on the inside of the bollard, it shines through the design and casts shadows on the driveway or walkway. The bollards do create a magical scene while providing a guide for you to transition through the space. Check out our gallery of bollards on our website.
Create more ambient light
Creating more ambient light is one of my favorite ways to light a driveway. Most long driveways in the Chicagoland area will be lined with trees. Shining light up into the canopy of these trees will give you enough ambient light to traverse your driveway on even the darkest of nights. Our designers will help choose the right trees to light the way. Lighting trees also add a lot of beauty to any landscape and add quite a bit of drama (the good drama) to your home! Please check out our gallery of trees on our website.
The absolute best way to light a long and dark driveway.
The best way to light your long and dark driveway is to use a combination of all the above. Light up the canopy of some trees, downlight some of the trickier parts of the driveway and add a few bollards along the way to create some excitement for the journey along your driveway. Our lighting designers are ready to tackle all of your difficult lighting needs! Call or use this link to fill out our online inquiry to get the process started. We’d be happy to help you create the landscape lighting of your dreams!