How to Install Low Voltage Landscape Lighting
One of the most important aspects of installing low voltage landscape lighting is subtlety. We strive to make our projects look as neat and tasteful in the daytime as they are stunning in the nighttime. When installing fixtures to illuminate a garden, great care must be taken to bury and mask all wiring, and to ensure that each fixture is neatly secured in the ground. The following demonstration took place at a beautiful and lush residence in Ann Arbor. We installed fixtures in the front and back gardens, which were covered in delicate flowers, exotic bushes and tiny statues.
This residence has two transformers, one in the back and one in the front. For each section, long cuts of wire were installed along the grass and garden edge and spliced with each individual fixture’s cable. This allows for every fixture in the front and back to be uniformly connected to their respective transformer.
We used direct burial splice kits for this installation. For a quick tutorial on this product, visit Make Better Landscape Lighting Connections.
So how do you mask all of that wiring?
First, lay out all of your wiring to ensure that you’ve composed the most simple and efficient instal. It is best to tackle corners and curves with straight lines and right angles, hugging the edge of the garden or grass as much as possible. This makes it easier for you to remember and for other landscapers, installers, etc. to determine where your wiring is located.
For the grass, we used a small shovel, about 6″ wide and 3 1/2′ tall. Dig a 4″ trench for the wire to rest in. Be careful to follow the straight lines and right angles you already mapped out with your wire. Angle the shovel horizontally to cut into the soil underneath the grass and pull it upwards. This will allow you to tuck the same grass back over the wire without doing much harm to its roots or appearance. It may be necessary to use your hands to pull the grass up even further, to ensure the wire has a secure place to rest.
Tuck the wire underneath the grass. Make sure it is firmly inside the fold, and then walk across it to pack down the soil. Make sure that the top layer is firmly even with the rest of the grass. Failure to merge the soil back together will result in the grass drying out.
For the gardens, which are covered with loosely packed mulch, we used the claw of a hammer. In strong and overlapping strokes, pull the claw through the mulch, removing and setting aside excess soil. Again, adhere to your straight lines and right angles, but also make sure you are digging through paths of least resistance, so you disturb as little of the plant life as possible.
Insert the wire into the trench, and secure it with ground staples. Hammer these as deep into the soil as possible.
Once all of the wiring is inserted, stapled and secured, bury it in the mulch. Only the fixtures themselves should remain visible.
Once you are finished with your installation, take a moment to sweep up excess dirt, even out lumpy patches, etc. Neatness is key!
Now you have a subtle and tasteful landscape lighting installation that is easy to power and repair. The only indication that an electrician was at work in your backyard, front lawn or garden is the presence of the fixtures themselves, which inconspicuously enhance the beauty of your home.