Landscape Lighting Maintenance Tips

landscapeLandscape lighting turns a dark property into an inviting and welcoming space. However, it requires routine maintenance to function properly. Moisture can damage the electrical components of landscape lighting fixtures. Keeping them dry will prevent costly repairs in the future. Visit to learn more.

Keeping the area around landscape lights clean is also important. Mulch, weeds, tree limbs, and other debris can cover or obstruct the fixture from shining its light.

Landscape lighting can transform a dark, dreary home exterior into warm and welcoming one. However, the beauty of your outdoor lighting scheme is diminished if the lights are not working correctly or looking dirty. Dirty lenses and reflectors cause light to be directed in unintended directions and reduce the fixture’s overall output.

Cleaning the glass lenses on your landscape lighting fixtures is simple and should be done at least twice per season. Simply use a soft cloth and water to wipe away any dirt, grime or buildup from the lenses. Metal elements on your landscape lighting can also be cleaned using a cleaner or polish intended for that type of metal. If you are unsure of what to use, consult your lighting provider or the manufacturer’s website for instructions.

Another common task during a maintenance visit is to trim plants and trees that are growing over or around your landscape lighting fixtures. Removing plants, shrubs and trees that are obstructing the lights allows for proper operation of the system and makes other cleaning tasks much easier.

Because your landscape lighting is installed to highlight specific areas of the yard, it is important that the fixtures are positioned and aimed properly. Over time, winds, heavy snow or rain, or even people walking through the garden may bump the lighting fixtures out of place. A quick visual inspection of each fixture will reveal if it needs to be moved or repositioned.

It is also a good idea to check all the wiring of your landscape lighting during your maintenance visit. If the wires are exposed, it is a good idea to have them reburied. This will prevent anyone from tripping over the wires and potentially damaging them. In addition, it will make the landscape lighting look tidier and more appealing. If the wiring is damaged or compromised, it will need to be repaired or replaced before it can be reburied. We also recommend that during your maintenance visit, you consider upgrades to your landscape lighting such as new bulbs, color-changing LED lamps or app-based lighting control systems.

Replace the Bulbs

Once you have an exceptional landscape lighting system in place, it’s important to perform routine maintenance to get the most value out of it. A little bit of proactive care can protect your investment for years to come.

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to replace your light bulbs before they burn out. This can help to ensure that you always have a working light in your yard and also to reduce energy costs.

It’s also a good idea to change the bulbs when you notice that the light is growing dim. The temperature of the bulb changes as it ages and can affect the output. It’s also a good idea to use quality landscape lighting bulbs in your outdoor lighting system. The higher quality bulbs tend to last longer and can offer you better light output.

Since your landscape lighting fixtures are outdoors, it’s not uncommon for them to be bumped or knocked out of alignment. This can happen when the landscaping company is out mowing or trimming your lawn and accidentally bumps a fixture, or even just from normal everyday activity like kids playing soccer in the yard.

As time passes, mulch can fill in around the fixtures and block illumination or obstruct the direction of the light. This can be easily corrected by clearing away any extra mulch and trimming plant growth.

You should also check for any areas where the fixture seems dimmer than other locations in your landscape. This can be a sign of a bad connection, an issue with the wires, or moisture that has caused a short.

Another thing to look for is any exposed wiring. This can occur if the cable has been damaged by animals or harsh weather over time. It’s a good idea to bury any cables that are exposed to avoid tripping hazards in high traffic areas of your yard.

Finally, make sure that the transformer is plugged in and working properly. If it isn’t, you can usually fix this by simply slipping the connector halves hanging from the bottom of the fixture over the cable that’s protruding out of the ground and pinching them together until you hear a click.

Adjust the Fixtures

After the snow melts and winter’s ice clears, it is time to inspect your landscape lighting fixtures. This includes making sure they are pointing in the correct direction. As the seasons change, it is not uncommon for landscape lights to get bumped out of place. Landscapers trimming plants, lawn mowers hitting them with their blade or kids playing soccer may move your fixtures out of alignment. This is why it’s important to walk your property on a weekly or monthly basis to look for any changes.

If a light isn’t pointing in the correct direction, simply move it back to where it was originally installed. This will elevate your lighting design, allow you to see better, and help people safely navigate your walkways after dark. Remember that lights were installed for a purpose, whether it be to light up a plant or highlight an area of your yard. Re-positioning your lights based on their function will make your lighting look better, keep your guests safe, and extend the life of your fixtures.

Also, while you’re checking your fixtures, look to see if any wires are exposed or have become disconnected from the fixture. If this is the case, you should rebury these wires to avoid people and pets accidentally tripping over them or damaging your electrical system.

It’s a good idea to lay your wires out before you install your landscape lighting system to ensure that the wires aren’t too close together or running too far from your transformer. This will make it easier to adjust your lighting later and prevent voltage drop which can lead to premature bulb burnout.

Once your wiring is buried, you should always have 12 to 18 inches of slack left between each light in your landscape lighting design. This will give you the flexibility to add more lights in the future and to move them around your lighting scheme as you wish. This will also allow you to take advantage of features like digital control and smart technology, which allows you to manage your landscape lighting from your home or mobile device.

Check the Wiring

Landscape lighting is connected by electrical wires that are subject to the elements. If those wires are damaged, it could cause the entire circuit to short out. You can check the wires for damage by starting with the transformer, then working your way backwards to each fixture.

The electrical wires running to and between the landscape lights should be buried. This keeps people and pets from tripping over the wires, prevents them from becoming damaged by moisture and looks tidier. It is also easier to troubleshoot when problems arise. If the wires are exposed, you should bury them as soon as possible.

Make sure that the wiring connectors used by your installer are rated for outdoor use. The factory-installed connectors can corrode and break. If they haven’t, replace them with gel-filled wire connectors that are made for landscaping and underground use.

If your landscape lights aren’t turning on, first locate the transformer and examine the circuit breaker switch. If the switch is in the “on” position, the problem is with one of the light fixtures.

A common issue is that the photocell is blocked by weeds or other debris and won’t close to turn the transformer on at night. If you can’t find the problem, clean the photocell and the connections at the base of the fixture.

Another common issue is that the bulbs burn out prematurely because there isn’t enough voltage delivered to them. The best way to test this is with a digital voltage meter, which costs about $25 at Radio Shack. This test will tell you whether each halogen bulb is receiving the proper voltage to avoid premature burning.

If you’re using low voltage, a single burnt-out bulb will throw the rest of the lights on that circuit off. This is a common phenomenon with daisy chain lighting systems that aren’t properly maintained. In order to avoid this, you should test the voltage of each light fixture with a digital voltage meter. Ideally, each fixture should receive 10.5 to 12 volts in order to be properly illuminated. If one or more of your landscape lights isn’t getting this voltage, it may be time to upgrade to a multi-tap transformer system.