Lumens measure the amount of light that a fixture produces. The more lumens, the brighter a light will appear. In your home, a 40-watt bulb gives off about 450 lumens.
But in your yards, things are a little more complicated. You might want security lights to be that bright, but what about pathway or feature lighting? The amount of lumens you need depends on the type of lights, your goals with the lighting, and a bit of personal preference. Still, we can offer this guide to give you a good starting point for each type of light and goal you have in your landscape.
Keep in mind that wattage and lumens vary across types of lights. We’ll be giving you amounts in standard lightbulbs, but you’ll need less wattage if you’re using LEDs.
Pathways lighting should be a medium brightness. We recommend somewhere between 100 and 200 lumens. The path needs to be well lit for safety, but you don’t want them to be so bright that they are hard for your eyes to transition too if you’re used to softer lighting elsewhere in the yard. Light that is too intense can be blinding for a moment.
Soffit lights are the lights that you install on the underside of the edge of your roof or the soffit. Typically, soffit lights are your lighting for your front entrance and in other spaces where you want a lot of light for safety. That said, they also shouldn’t be blinding. We recommend 120-180 lumens for soffit lights.
Underwater lights add an ethereal glow to your water and your whole landscape. They can also provide a bit of safety by ensuring that people can see where the water begins. The water will have an effect on the light, reflecting it out in many directions. So, you’ll need these lights to be a little stronger to compensate. We recommend between 200 and 400 lumens for underwater lights.
Any lights that you need for security, including motion-sensor lights, should be quite bright. It’s fine if they shock the eyes a little bit, as they are supposed to be intimidating lights that make would-be thieves feel exposed. Security lights should be between 300 and 700 lumens. The exact brightness should depend on how much area the lights are covering.
Feature lights are spotlights that you can use to enhance the landscape features that you have. It’s common to find landscape feature lights beneath trees, statues, pillars, trellises, and other features. The light highlights the feature and creates great ambiance. Of course, the strength of the light should depend on the size of the feature and the look that you are going for. One hundred twenty lumens is a good starting point, but for trees, you may need more.
Make a Lighting Plan
Naturally, many of your lights will overlap. It can be helpful to make a lighting plan and assess what your yard will need per square foot. That way, you’ll make sure that all of your lighting needs are covered and that your yard will look beautiful.