Jul
13

How to Light Pools for the Ultimate Summer Experience

Today, our industry is thriving because of the homeowner’s desire to create a comfortable, memorable outdoor experience. That desire quadruples when the weather improves and homeowners begin focusing even more on creating the ultimate summertime experience in their own backyard.

This can mean different things to different people, but one typically clear focus for a great summer experience is the pool. There’s nothing quite like a leisurely swim in your very own pool—morning, noon, or night. And there’s something even more magical about taking a late night dip.

But, without outdoor lighting, the perfect dip can be a little more tricky, a little less enjoyable, and a little more dangerous (and not in a thrilling James Bond kind of way.)

Part of the fun of diving into your pool at night is to be able to physically see it—and enjoy its gorgeous features. Equally as important is the element of safety—being able to see those features, which in darkness could become obstacles or hazards, and knowing exactly where the deck ends, the pool starts, and the deep end is.

To make things simple for you, we’ve compiled a list of seven tips and insights to consider when taking the plunge and investing in landscape lighting to enhance your pool-going experience.

1. Moonlighting

Let’s start with one of our favorite advanced landscape lighting techniques: Moonlighting. Doesn’t it just sound dreamy? Night swimming in glistening water evoked by moonlighting. Add life to your pool and deck after the sun goes down by using tree-mounted lighting to create an illusion of moonlight. Or, if you don’t have trees, create the same effect by mounting lights in the soffits of your home or pool house.

2. Directional Lights for Structures & Greenery

The pool isn’t the only focus in a summertime experience, and it certainly isn’t a homeowner’s only investment. Make sure to show off gorgeous plant life, flower beds, and treescapes with traditional above-ground directional lights for expert uplighting.

Equally as important are structures such as a cabana, pergola, or outdoor kitchen area. To really enhance that relaxing resort-like experience is to show off these amazing assets and architectural features by illuminating them at night with uplights and soft wash lights. It also makes the space far more usable in the evenings.  

3. Deck Lighting

If you have kids or you like hosting regular get-togethers, there’s a strong likelihood that your pool sees a lot of activity and foot traffic. One way to avoid damaging a light fixture—or worse, having an injured guest—is by installing in-ground lights instead. Even if your pool area is made of concrete, landscape lighting experts have the tools to drill into the decking with ease.

4. Water Features

Water features deserve their own landscape lighting strategy and design. Waterfalls, for instance, are magnificent and serene in their own right, and lighting them at night only adds to their majesty and peace. Consider backlighting from underneath the cascade, showcasing the water’s playful dancing and shimmering. Alternatively, a wash light at the pool’s edge or a nearby tree could spill across the waterfall evenly for a calming atmosphere. To add more drama and livelines, opt for positioning the lights where the waterfall breaks the pool’s surface, emphasizing movement and the splashing bubbles.

5. Wall Lights

Remember the cardinal rule: Pool goers—and anyone in an outdoor living space—should see the effect of the light, not the source. Walls lights are excellent for carrying out this rule. Small and subtle, wall lights are designed to be hidden—an afterthought—casting light downward onto a more interesting aspect of the landscape design as well as the textured hardscape it’s attached to. They can be installed throughout hardscapes, their textured walls, sitting walls, fire pits and fire pit benches, and more.

6. Lighting Zones, Dimmers, & Mood

Pool area lighting should make use of dimmers—specifically hot tubs and poolside dining areas. Think pergolas, cabanas, and lux lounge areas with firepits. The concept of separate lighting zones should also be applied. Creating separate zones for certain tasks or moods is an important element when producing usable outdoor and recreation space around the pool.

This means giving homeowners control of certain areas—the ability to turn lights on or off and the ability to dim them as needed while the rest of the landscape, such as the home, remains permanently lit on a timer.

Optional zones, where dimming should be available, include intimate areas like a hot tub where lighting is typically lower to create a romantic or relaxed mood; or, functional areas like an outdoor kitchen which need a brighter light in order to see when grilling and entertaining.

Dimming control is the key to creating that perfect poolside atmosphere.

7. Glare

A relaxing evening by the pool can be dampered if there’s an annoying glare coming off the water or anywhere else that can impair your eyesight and result in an accident. As anti-glare experts, we’ll be the first to tell you lighting a pool area is all about safety and comfort. This can be achieved with glare-free lighting. To prevent glare from and around the pool, there are a few steps you can take: Remember that people should see the effect of a light, not the source itself. This can be remedied in a few different ways. One popular solution is to—depending on the size of the brush surrounding a pool—hide the fixtures in the plant life so that only the effect of the light is seen and appreciated. Hiding fixtures and making sure the light is doing its job helps eliminate glare.

Another idea is to focus in on key landscape design elements using the appropriate lighting techniques. All aspects of your outdoor lighting design should work together to brighten the area properly. For instance, if you have a textured wall around a side of your pool deck, you can use a directional light that crossfades up it. Essentially, the trick is not to accidentally shine light into the water, which creates glare. This is where a pro such as a CAST installer is recommended to ensure safety and glare prevention in this potentially dangerous recreational area.

Here’s to Summer!

Here’s to making your pool-going experience a splash hit this summer! And with these seven tips and tricks of the trade, there’s no doubt it will be. Just remember, lighting a pool and the surrounding area is about maximizing safety, usability, and comfort. These landscape lighting objectives go hand-in-hand with highlighting your prized landscape features and creating a luxurious resort-like outdoor experience.

So when you meet these objectives, you’ll know it’s time to kick your feet up—poolside—and enjoy all the hard work you put in to making this summer in your backyard the best one yet.