As soon as the days get longer and warmer and greener, we reconnect with the outdoors -- spying a butterfly's fluttery flight, inhaling a lilac's luxuriant aroma, reading under the light of the sun. This means the landscape lighting we install needs to look just as wonderful by day as it does by night. Here are some examples our Building Department editors liked. Note: Prices and models are subject to change.
This 23-inch-high fixture is a natural when it comes to illuminating a flowerbed or walkway. Made of brass, the California Tulip light from Rockscapes, Inc. features a simple shade and gently curving stem that mimics a flower without stealing the show ($49).
A rounded shade directs light downward, making this fixture especially ideal along side steps. Measuring 12 inches high, the large Mushroom Light from Intermatic Inc. is made of die-cast aluminum and is treated with a verdigris finish ($26).
Handcrafted from commercial-grade cast metal, this 20-inch fixture will withstand many years of nature's little outbursts. The verdigris finish of the Hanover Lantern, Inc., Thatched Hat Light blends into your landscape too ($175).
Today's best landscape light designs bridge the gap between standard black fixtures and overly glitzy ones. Their stylish shapes blend into your landscaping and please the eye.
Once you settle on a style that complements your home, decide what you want to illuminate. Some fixtures are better suited to lighting steps and pathways, while others simply beam pretty pools of light onto flowers and ground covers.
Household current for all landscape lighting -- even 120-volt fixtures -- can be lowered to 12 volts with a simple plug-in transformer. This makes the lights more economical to use, and means there's less risk of electrical shock when lines are exposed to the elements.
This landscape light borrows its design from old-fashioned marine lanterns. Perfect for illuminating a pathway, the 25-inch-high Kichler Lighting fixture features what the company calls an Olde Brick finish ($88).
An antiquelike bronze finish gives this traditional-style fixture a rich look. Yet, the design of the 24-inch California Pathway light from Rockscapes, Inc., works just as well in a casual setting ($89).
Tucked into a bed of plantings, this sleek, 16-1/2-inch fixture provides style without sticking out. The brushed copper shade of Kichler Lighting's path light will naturally weather to a handsome patina (with stem, $86).