WaterShapes

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Pools of Light

5-yrsBy Mike Gambino

‘If there’s ever been such a thing as a match made in heaven, swimming pools and landscape lighting lay a strong claim to that perfection.’  That’s how Mike Gambino opened his Currents column in November 2009.

‘Separately, they take little-used spaces and transform them to all-day hubs of activity and sources of constant beauty.  Together, however, the magic

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  • Guest - Jim McCloskey

    sorry. This is a shortened version of a longer article that had some photographs. Click here to see the column in its original splendor: watershapes.com/outdoor-living/fire-features/amenities/lighting/pools-of-light.html...
  • Guest - Debbie Shepard

    What NO PICTURES? c'mon - this is a visual story
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Safe Lighting Around Pools

b_400_400_16777215_00_images_4-23_benedetti_art_4-23_benedetti_opener.JPGBy Paolo Benedetti

There’s a common misperception among designers and builders whose projects carry them beyond a pool and spa and out into the landscape:  In large numbers, these professionals believe that low-voltage landscape lighting systems are perfectly safe for use in close proximity to the water.

The truth of the matter is that the National Electric Code (NEC) has defined an exclusionary zone of ten feet around pools and spas for these fixtures!

That’s right:  Even with low-voltage

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Night Visions

When do you think about the exterior lighting for your watershapes and their surroundings?  Is it an afterthought, or part of your plan from the beginning?  In his experience, says veteran lighting designer Mike Hersman, the former is too commonly the case – and that’s a bad habit this designer and installer of lighting systems would like to change because of the visual wonders that can be unveiled once the sun goes down.
When do you think about the exterior lighting for your watershapes and their surroundings? Is it an afterthought, or part of your plan from the beginning? In his experience, says veteran lighting designer Mike Hersman, the former is too commonly the case – and that’s a bad habit this designer and installer of lighting systems would like to change because of the visual wonders that can be unveiled once the sun goes down.
By Mike Hersman

It’s a simple fact:  No matter where you are on the globe, ultimately it’s dark exactly half the time.  So no matter how beautiful your watershapes may be, if you don’t fully consider lighting as a key component of your projects, you may be robbing your work of half its potential for pleasing your clients.  

That makes it a bottom-line issue, because lighting adds real value to most any watershape installation with a long list of benefits.  For starters, it extends the time a watershape can be used beyond daylight hours.  It also adds

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Making the Shade

200106DT0By David Tisherman

I truly enjoy including shade structures in my designs.  Whether I’m working with an overhang, an arbor, a loggia, a pergola or some other structure (and, yes, they are all different), I see them as ways to create visual extensions of a house – and wonderful places to enjoy being next to the water.

There is, of course, as much art and skill to designing and installing the right shade structure as there is to setting up all of the other features of a great backyard.  Done well, a structure that projects out from a house will pull your eye from inside to outside while it provides relief from the sun.  Similarly, freestanding shade structures

Read more: Making the Shade

Strands of Light

Valued for their varying colors and ability to provide both point-source and band-lighting effects, fiberoptic lighting systems have been a popular choice in and around aquatic environments for many years.  Their variety offers designers a most useful level of design flexibility, says watershaper Paolo Benedetti, who shows what he means as he walks us through the installation of four different fiberoptic lighting systems on a single recent project.
Valued for their varying colors and ability to provide both point-source and band-lighting effects, fiberoptic lighting systems have been a popular choice in and around aquatic environments for many years. Their variety offers designers a most useful level of design flexibility, says watershaper Paolo Benedetti, who shows what he means as he walks us through the installation of four different fiberoptic lighting systems on a single recent project.
By Paolo Benedetti

I love the versatility of fiberoptic lighting:  The technology works equally well in conjunction with landscaping or architectural features, and because there’s no electrical current to worry about at the light fixtures themselves, they’re a natural around water.  

Better yet, you can use fiberoptics to create traditional point-light sources, or you can set them up as mellow bands of light over long stretches.  I don’t use fiberoptics on every job, but when the situation is right and the customer is willing, I’m eager to dig in and design a system that will wow them for years to come.

As is true with any lighting system, the main reason to use fiberoptics is

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Made in the Shade

200101BVB0By Brian Van Bower

In recent years, I’ve noticed a tremendous increase in the demand for shade structures – so much so that it would seem the era of slathering on suntan oil and basking in the sun in search of a savage tan might be gone forever.

It’s an exciting trend that really expands the creative possibilities for watershapers working across a broad range of styles and pricing levels.  

And no one could be happier about that than me:  For one thing, I’m fair-skinned and burn easily; for another, adding

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Bright Ideas

200311BVB0By Brian Van Bower

When we think about how the environments we create are used, the first image that probably comes to mind is one of people enjoying themselves in or near the water on a beautiful, warm afternoon.  That’s natural – and a vision that’s a big part of the watershape experience we set up for our clients – but it ignores the other half of the day when our clients are left to themselves with our work.  

The fact is that watershape owners are mostly working people who spend their days away from home earning their daily bread.  So despite the fact that we build these things

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Good to Glow

200307DT0By David Tisherman

For the most part, the designers and builders of pools, spas and other watershapes visualize their projects in full sun, install them during daylight hours and seldom (if ever) see them after the sun goes down.  

That’s both a problem and a shame, and it’s reflected in the fact that the run of projects you encounter by mainline pool-industry folks – and, to a lesser extent, by people from the landscape trades – tend to treat the lighting of exterior spaces as an afterthought if it’s really thought about at all.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that

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Kitchens of Distinction

Outdoor cooking and entertainment areas are becoming more and more popular among his mid- to high-end clients in California’s Silicon Valley, observes watershaper Paolo Benedetti.  That’s why he now sees ‘exterior kitchens’ as much more than an afterthought and has instead found ways to integrate them fully into his work with homeowners, from the start of the design process through to a highly functional finish.
Outdoor cooking and entertainment areas are becoming more and more popular among his mid- to high-end clients in California’s Silicon Valley, observes watershaper Paolo Benedetti. That’s why he now sees ‘exterior kitchens’ as much more than an afterthought and has instead found ways to integrate them fully into his work with homeowners, from the start of the design process through to a highly functional finish.
By Paolo Benedetti

What started as a slow simmer has now come completely to a boil.

Ten years ago, precious few of our clients had little or no interest in setting up outdoor cooking areas to go along with their pools, spas and waterfeatures.  That’s certainly not the case today, when fully 90% of our clients want us to set up some sort of kitchen amenity as part of their deck and patio areas.

You don’t have to be a marketing genius to see what’s happening:  It’s great fun to

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Water with a Difference

200302SR0By Stephanie Rose

We all know how much watershapes add to the beauty of any setting, but I suspect we also tend to take for granted the integral role water plays in sustaining those environments.  

It’s obvious that no landscape would survive long without a steady infusion of water to nurture its plants.  Less obvious, however, are ways in which water can be used to make some places more hospitable to other life forms that inhabit them.

This isn’t really new.  As has been noted in several articles published in WaterShapes, water has been used in arid climates for centuries as a prime source of “air conditioning” for

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Shining Through

The illumination of watershapes is a true specialty even among the experts, observes lighting designer Janet Lennox Moyer, because it requires not only mastery of available lighting technologies and techniques but also an understanding of the physical properties of light as it interacts with air and water.  The key, she says, is supporting a clear set of objectives with careful planning and a persistent desire to make the most of watershapes after dark.
The illumination of watershapes is a true specialty even among the experts, observes lighting designer Janet Lennox Moyer, because it requires not only mastery of available lighting technologies and techniques but also an understanding of the physical properties of light as it interacts with air and water. The key, she says, is supporting a clear set of objectives with careful planning and a persistent desire to make the most of watershapes after dark.
By Janet Lennox Moyer

Maximizing the potential of landscape lighting is always about thinking ahead – a philosophy that absolutely applies when it comes to planning and designing the lighting for a watershape.   

The process begins with a set of questions that should be considered at the outset of any project:  Is the watershape to be the focal point of the composition, or is it to be one among equally important features such as plantings, sculptures or hardscape details?  Is the feature to be visually prominent at night, or is it to blend in with the darkness?  Will the water you are lighting be in motion, or are you working with a still surface?

Observers and chief vantage points also come into play.  If the feature will mostly be viewed from passing automobiles rather than by pedestrians, for example, the issue of glare must be directly considered for safety reasons.  If the watershape is to be seen from a lit interior space, then we know that its lighting level must be equal to or greater than that of the interior lighting.  Likewise, relative brightness is an issue in making the illuminated watershape work with the rest of an illuminated landscape.

The most important need in all of this is for

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Sound Options

An amenity once found almost exclusively on major commercial properties, sophisticated outdoor sound systems are becoming increasingly popular in today’s residential landscapes and gardens.  In fact, says audio specialist Scott Sylvester, modern speaker systems are adding all-new dimensions to exterior spaces, giving watershapers and others the opportunity to provide their clients and guests with a complete outdoor sensory experience.

An amenity once found almost exclusively on major commercial properties, sophisticated outdoor sound systems are becoming increasingly popular in today’s residential landscapes and gardens.  In fact, says audio specialist Scott Sylvester, modern speaker systems are adding all-new dimensions to exterior spaces, giving watershapers and others the opportunity to provide their clients and guests with a complete outdoor sensory experience. 

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Shaping the Night

Effective landscape-lighting design requires a careful balance of several key elements, explains Janet Lennox Moyer, the chief among them being the fine art of lighting plant material.  In this feature, one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject of exterior lighting describes the way she approaches this part of her projects, revealing the thought processes and practicalities involved in making greenery come alive when the sun sets.
Effective landscape-lighting design requires a careful balance of several key elements, explains Janet Lennox Moyer, the chief among them being the fine art of lighting plant material. In this feature, one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject of exterior lighting describes the way she approaches this part of her projects, revealing the thought processes and practicalities involved in making greenery come alive when the sun sets.
By Janet Lennox Moyer

We all know that plants are beautiful in daylight.  Perhaps less well known is the vast visual potential they posses when carefully and thoughtfully lit at night.

It’s no small challenge.  Indeed, maximizing the beauty of most any landscape while also ensuring that your lighting design works well throughout the lifetime of the landscape requires a keen understanding of both plant materials and the lighting techniques that will bring them to life when the sun goes down.  Furthermore, surrounding watershapes with well-lit spaces and foliage will add a distinctive aesthetic dimension to the overall design.

To my mind, there’s no substitute for paying attention to every plant in the plan, because overlooking any of them or ignoring the role each has to play in the overall landscape will almost invariably detract from the effectiveness of the lighting design.  You can’t overlook technology, either, or the need to sort through the variety of techniques that can be used to light plants while keeping an eye on a wide range of practical, aesthetic and creative issues.

When you encompass all of this successfully, the results will often

Read more: Shaping the Night

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