Ask the Experts: Find Your Niche – Add Landscape Lighting to Your Outdoor Living Projects

Lighting technology is changing at the speed of light. From WiFi controllers and mesh systems to ZDC and advanced installation techniques, there is always something we need to be learning. Couple that with a tremendous demand in outdoor living and hardscape, and the opportunities are endless.

That’s why we’ve connected with Glen Nyhuis, our National Lighting Director, and Dennis Garneau, our Hardscape Director, to learn more about what’s trending this season in outdoor lighting and outdoor living.

From Glen:

After spending three decades in the landscape lighting business, I have certainly learned a thing or two. I have also realized the learning never stops. As the architecture on homes are constantly changing, we are seeing houses getting larger and the architecture becoming more modern or even futuristic. Outdoor spaces are being used more and more as living areas and people want access to them at all times of the day.

This means, it’s time to think outside the box and take advantage of all the niche fixtures that are available.

All of this creates more opportunities for the lighting contractor. There are so many different areas of the home and property that can be lit including second level lighting of dormers, coves, and gables. Lighting around the property of shrubs, trees, other architectural features, and statues. And, let’s not forget outdoor masonry for things like outdoor kitchens, pools, BBQs, patios, walls, planters, ponds, and more!

What’s more is there are so many different types of material being used on and around homes today including slate, natural stone, veneer, stucco, and wood. This gives you the opportunity to play with lighting color and temperature to really make these material textures pop.

Advanced Installation Techniques

While adding lighting when you install hardscape or outdoor living projects is the best time, it doesn’t mean it’s too late if you don’t. You can still light up those steps, outdoor kitchens, or pergolas—even if the wire didn’t make it into the hardscape.

There are many advanced installation techniques to hide wires and install fixtures in existing structures, no matter the material. Ask your local Central rep to connect you with one of our lighting subject matter experts to teach you how.

Explore Different Fixtures & Technologies

I am always one for trying new things. And, the lighting contractor that is experimenting and utilizing different fixtures in their designs is the one winning the game! They are selling more lights per home, making more profits, and certainly getting more referrals. Many of us like to stick to what we know. Maybe we use the same fixture on every job or always the same manufacturer for all of our lighting projects. Major lines such as FX Luminaire, Unique, and Kichler have large product arsenals to select from, but they may not always have the right niche lighting needed for every design. In these cases, look outside your standard manufacturer for the right solution or fixture for your need. Whether its cap lighting, mesh systems, or bistro lighting—ask a Central rep to help you find the right solution for your project.

Now is the time to start exploring some of the new fixtures and technology available to you. The more you try, the more your confidence will build and the more jobs you will close. Finally, treat every lighting job like a blank canvas. You need to paint that portrait and fill the canvas and sometimes it takes many different colors (and fixtures) to do so.

From Dennis:

There is no better compliment to your hardscaping than outdoor lighting.

Adding landscape lighting to your portfolio adds opportunity to up-sell to your customer while also adding incredible aesthetic value for the landscape that you are installing. Better yet, this will set you apart from your competition by allowing you to offer a premium, high-end installation to your customer for very little extra work for you and your team.

Installation is the Best Time

When you are working on your installation of your hardscape/outdoor living project is the best time to add lighting to any project. During the prep of the site is the best time to run wires behind retaining walls or sleeves under walkway for future plans of lighting.

I would recommend adding a few under the cap lights to any retaining wall or sitting wall project into your quote. This is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition and add value and security for the homeowner.

Steps and stair cases pose such a hazard in the dark. Without the property lighting it makes it hard to walk safely without tripping and falling. Undercap lights help to eliminate this hazard by casting light directly onto the step. Your hardscape lighting for steps and walls can be glued with the same glue that adheres the caps to the wall after the lights have been connected to the wire and tested to make sure that they work.

More Opportunities

It’s a small investment for you up front but once the customer sees the finish product, they will inquire on adding more lighting to their home. On a sitting wall in a patio that averages 20-30’ you will only need 4-5 under the cap lights, a transformer, and a roll of wire. For around a $300 investment and an hour of time you add tremendous value to your install—and the homeowners will appreciate it when their family is sitting around that wall at night!

When you are working to expand your range of services that your business offers, there is no better compliment to your hardscaping than outdoor lighting.

Once you add the basic lighting into that retaining wall or sitting the wall the homeowner will look to add more lighting into the property from walkway lighting or to accent trees or shrubs. With Central as your valued partner, we have subject matter experts than can help with basic installation practices to choosing the correct fixture for your install.

Finally, rely on Central to help, whether its hardscape solutions, advanced installation techniques, help with an audio or lighting demo/installations, or sharing insight and recommendations on the newest technologies or design styles. We stay at the leading edge of the industry and we’re ready to help you grow!

About Glen

Glen Nyhuis has nearly three decades in the landscape lighting business. He has worked both in the field installing and design landscape lighting, as well as on the distribution side. Beyond that, he has spent many years teaching and working with contractors on how to sell lighting to their customers. Whether it’s a technical or design question, or helping source the right product for a special job, Glen is ready to help you make money and grow your business.

About Dennis

Dennis Garneau has 25 years’ experience in hardscaping installation from commercial applications to residential design/build projects. He is ICPI Certified and works closely with vendors on new training and technical installation techniques. Before working for Central, Dennis owned and operated his own landscape construction company for 18 years so he is well versed in the day-to-day operations of contractor as well as the best ways to strategically upselling projects. Rely on him for any of your hardscape and outdoor living needs.