The season for backyard parties is upon us. Is your backyard ready? Installing outdoor lighting can give your backyard that extra bump it needs to become your friend’s new favorite hangout. Adding lighting to walkways, pool areas, barbecue pits, and landscaping can give your backyard the effortless look and functionality you are going for this summer.

But before you dive into any project, make sure you have a plan and a budget. Having a plan will help you and your electrician know precisely where you want your lights and prevent later disappointment. If you want a little extra help, you can hire a Lighting Professional to help you create your perfect back yard plan, but Pinterest can also be an excellent tool for people on a smaller budget. Choose where you want to place lights wisely. With the right lighting design, you can create a space that can be enjoyed for many more summers to come.

Here are some helpful tips to think of when planning your perfect backyard:

Use different types of lighting. Also, look at what type of lighting should be used for each area, such as solar or hardwired, to get the look and cost you want. Here are just a few examples:

Up-lighting– is a great way to highlight architectural and landscaping features from above.
Wall Lighting– a subtle way to illuminate a small area near your house with an elegant look
Highlighting– add lighting that illuminates upward from the ground to draw attention to landscaping or other features
Incognito– find lighting that blends in such as a light that looks like a rock until illuminated.

Have a focus. Use lights to highlight your yard’s strengths, such as a pool or flower bed, and redirect attention from the less beautiful areas of your property, such as an old shed.

Combine beauty and function. For example, adding lighting to plantings along a pathway breaks up the “runway” look of too many lights strung alongside a walk.

Vary the fixtures. Don’t’ be afraid to mix and match. Use different types of lights, along with different styles as well.

Stick to warm light. A rainbow of colors is possible, but remember it is your home and not a circus, so try to stay with warm light.

Plan your lights type. Plan out if you want the lights to be on a timer, a switch, or a motion sensor during your planning stages. Most of the time, lighting that is used to draw attention is put on timers. Security lighting uses motion sensors.

Shop around. Be sure to check out big stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, and don’t forget about the smaller lighting stores or even online stores because sometimes they’ll give you the better deal.

Place lights wisely. Strategically placing the lighting can give your backyard a larger and more spacious appearance giving you more bang for your buck.

LESS IS MORE. When choosing lighting, there are many options to choose from, but don’t choose them all. You don’t want your backyard to feel like a stage production with too many lights. You will still want to leave room for the moonlight to add to the night time ambiance.

Try to keep a budget. Make sure when planning your budget, you plan for both the lighting itself and the installation. A more extensive lighting system will also mean it will take more time for someone to install.

Safety. Lighting isn’t only a great way to make an outdoor space more lively, but it is also a great way to ensure safety.

Patio and walkway lighting– for ensuring people can see the walkway to prevent tripping or falling.
Floodlights– to ensure safety and visibility for an area with activities such as a playground or cooking area.
Motion sensor– Let these lights monitor motion around your house to alert you if an unwanted visitor or pesky animal guest is lurking around.
Up-lighting– Add high lighting to spotlight hills, dips, or other features in your yard that need to be seen.

Add an outdoor kitchen. And of course, a perfect backyard needs an outdoor kitchen with proper lighting throughout! Most of the time, an outdoor kitchen needs a gas line to the built-in grill and water to the built-in sink, requiring the help of a licensed plumber.

Many things go into planning your back yard space, but once the planning stages are over, call a licensed electrician for your installation needs. A huge but common mistake made by homeowners is trying to do the electrical installation themselves with no knowledge of the electrical workings of their home. There are many issues that you can run into when attempting to install the lighting yourself, such as, crossing wires, hidden junction boxes, or cutting or damaging wires. And it is always going to be cheaper to have it installed right the first time than to hire an electrician to come out and fix mistakes.

The most concerning problem though, is that it is a MAJOR safety hazard. Messing with the wiring in your house could cause you to potentially electrocute yourself or a loved one. And just because you may finish a project without injury doesn’t mean that you may not be electrocuted or injured later caused by incorrect rewiring and electric build-up.

Another safety concern is causing a house fire. Home-done electrical work accounts for an estimated 51,000 fires, more than 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage each year. So save yourself time, money, and potential injuries and call the professionals at Cotton Electric so you can just sit back and enjoy your new outdoor living space.