Is DIY Landscape Lighting a VGI (Very Good Idea)?

Are you a DIYer (Do It Yourselfer)? If so, you’re part of what seems to be a rapidly growing movement. It’s likely rooted in the traditional American spirit of independence and self-sufficiency; roll up your sleeves and git’r done! The DIY movement also encompasses a yearning for retaining more control of our lives, in an age when the trend seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

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And unquestionably, a BIG proportion of the DIY movement is motivated by the need or desire to economize – particularly after the rough and bouncy economic ride of recent years.

Kits Are Big

Lots of businesses have sprung up to cater to the desires of DIYers. And many that have been around for decades have boomed in recent years. In particular, lots of businesses these days offer kits to cater to the DIY boom.

What kind of kits? Just about anything you can think of!

If you’re a DIYer, you can buy a kit to:

  • Build a boat
  • Build a car
  • Build a beehive
  • Build a chicken coop
  • Build a greenhouse
  • Build a log cabin
  • Build a computer
  • Build a house

The list is virtually endless. You can even buy a kit to build an airplane – yes, a real airplane, the kind you’ll get in and fly among the clouds (if you dare!).

These kits offer sort of a compromise for DIYers. You’re still building something yourself, but you’re saving a whole lot of time and trouble compared to building from scratch.

Mostly, DIY kits are beneficial. They can be a great boon to a DIYer. But in some cases, not so much…

Landscape Lighting Kits…NOT!

One type of DIY kit is for installing your own landscape lighting system. The basic motivation for buying such a kit is well founded; landscape lighting offers lots of benefits to homeowners. Every home should be equipped with a landscape lighting system.

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But should you install that system yourself? In a word: No. The truth of the matter is that some jobs should just be left to professionals.

While DIYing is great, it’s not for everything. Some tasks simply require a wealth of knowledge and practical experience to achieve the best results. And knowledge and experience cannot be packaged into a kit along with all the bits and pieces and parts.

That certainly applies to landscape lighting installations.

Part of the reason to leave this job to professionals is the electrical work that’s involved. When you install a landscape lighting system, you’re dealing with extensive wiring and expanded electrical loads. You really need to know what you’re doing when you tread into that territory.

But perhaps a more compelling reason to leave this job to professionals is this one simple fact: designing a landscape lighting system is a feat of artistry – and not the paint-by-numbers kind.

It’s about designing a system that:

  • Portrays each architectural and landscaping feature in the best possible light (literally)
  • Strikes a balance between illumination and shadow that yields both aesthetic satisfaction and sufficient light for safety
  • Embraces the fact that less lighting is sometimes more, and more is sometimes too much

Sure, you can buy a landscape lighting kit and assemble it per instructions. But to be blunt, you’ll never achieve the aesthetic quality that a professional installer will provide – at least not until you’ve done it a few hundred times.

I Know What You’re Thinking…

Yes, I’m a professional landscape lighting installer. I’ve been doing it for many years. I’ve accrued all of that hard-won experience mentioned above. And yes, I want my business to continue to do well.

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You might think that’s my primary motivation for penning this piece.

But the real motivation is this: When I see a landscape lighting project that looks so, well, amateurish, it just makes me sad. Sad for the family living at that home. Sad for the black eye that the DIY project inflicts upon the industry in general.

So if you’re a DIYer by nature, I applaud you. I admire people who can roll up their sleeves and git’r done. But sometimes, the sleeve-rolling and git-r-done’ing really should be left to someone else.

 

Author: Bob Carr

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