Lighting Home Landscapes

Our Rent-A-Husband, Kaile Warren, demonstrated on The Saturday Early Show the aesthetic and safety benefits gained by adding outdoor lighting to a home's landscape.

Warren helped a Maine homeowner determine where best to position her lights, as well as how to install and connect them.

"The first thing people notice about a home when they pull up [to a driveway] is its curb appeal," said Warren.

He observed that homeowner Cobie Smith's home has great "curb appeal," with beautiful landscaping in the front and magnificent views of the lake in the back.

"With all of the beautiful landscaping, it's a real shame it's only visible during daylight hours," said Warren.

Warren said outdoor lighting can bring the home's appeal to night, too. But first, he asked Smith what she wanted to gain from outdoor lighting.

"I think the most important thing, is safety," she answered. "And the second would be the aesthetics of it."

Warren said many Americans would agree with Smith outdoor lighting concerns.

Smith said the house had some stairs that go to the lake, and she wanted to be able to use that area during the evening.

Aesthetically, she would like to improve the lighting in her garden in front of the house.

Warren started the outdoor lighting project by having Smith consider where she would like more lights to be used.

For the stairs, Warren suggested a few lighting tips.

"We can set specific marks for each light, but it's best to do that after dark," he said. "The best way to find the locations is to use a flashlight and mark them with flags."

Using the flashlight as a guide, Smith and Warren mark a location for each light, which they installed later during the day.

Once the locations are marked, they pull the first flag to set the lights.

Warren recommended the lights be installed three to four inches into the ground, so a little more digging may be required.

"Before you install any outdoor lighting, you'll need to make sure you have a receptacles installed," Warren warned. "It's called a GFCI, and preferably you'd like to install that near where your lighting will be."

Hooked into the GFCI is a transformer. Smith had a 300-watt transformer, which Warren said was more than enough to for the lights they were installing.

"One feature I really like about this transformer is you'll see on the top there's a timer," Warren said. "This provides great security for your home when you're not there."

Once all the lights are in place, they can be connected to the low voltage wire.

"The wire that we're connecting our lights to is called an ID wire, which means one side is smooth and the other is grooved," said Warren. "To make sure we keep our connections consistent, I'm going to hook the white side to the smooth side for the entire run."

After making all the light connections, Warren attached the low voltage wire to the transformer and plug it in to be sure each light was working.

The final step is to bury the wire. While Smith dug a shallow trench of about four-inches, Warren tucked the wire into the ground. If you're not sure what's beneath the surface of your property, you can always call a professional for a site survey.

The two finished the job, but Smith wasn't quite satisfied.

"I think it looks great, but I do think we could use more lights," said Smith.

"I would tend to agree," replied Warren. "You now have the skill to do that yourself. Isn't that wonderful."

"That's terrific," said Smith.