Installing Landscape Lighting You’ll Love, Part 2

Landscape Lights Don’t Install Themselves

Last time, we gave you an overview of types of landscape lighting. We promised to show you how to install them in part 2. Well, this is part 2, and we’re keeping our promise.

Is it hard to install landscape lighting kits?

The difficulty of any project is relative (and it would be nice if you could get some relative to do the work for you!). For the most part, however, you can probably install landscape lighting on your own. First, it’s low voltage so you’re not going to electrocute yourself and you don’t even need a permit.

The only thing that could be tricky is making sure you have the right transformer. You might want to call in a pro for that.

How long is this going to take?

You can install a simple system in a weekend.

Let’s go step by step.

Position your light fixtures and wire (you already planned this, right?). You’ll want to use 10-gauge wire for the main lines from the transformer to your first lights. Use 12-gauge wire between the lights.

Now that you know where the wires are going, use a flat-nosed shovel to cut a slot in the lawn. Fold back the sod. Bury the wires at least 6 inches to protect them. In planting beds, you can cover low-voltage wires with mulch or soil.

Install the transformer.

Mount the transformer on a post at a central location near an outdoor GFCI outlet. Then, you’ll have to connect the 10-gauge main wires to the transformer. Strip off 3/4 inches of insulation, twist the strands together, then attach them to the terminals.

If your landscape lights are always going to be plugged in, replace the standard cover with a weatherproof cover.

Make a solid base.

Since ground stakes don’t go deep enough, you’ll want to use plastic pipes to build solid bases for the cone. This indestructible, sturdy footing protects your wire connections and allows you to make pole extensions of any length.

Connect the wires.

Just be sure you use weatherproof wire connectors to connect the wires.

Test each light.

To avoid premature burnout, use a digital voltage meter. Make sure each light fixture is getting 10.5 to 12 volts. Extremely low readings indicate a bad connection somewhere in the system or too many lights on a circuit. You can make minor voltage adjustments with the voltage controls on the transformer.

There you go. There’s your sort-of quick look at the steps you’ll take when installing landscape lighting. It gives you an overview, but every lighting kit you buy will be different. Make sure you always follow specific instructions listed on your particular kit.

If that seems like too much work, hire a pro.