houston landscape lighting

First Landscape Lighting Project for a Client on the Forbes 400 by Chad Rodvold

Jerry Moore’s Friar Tuck Residence

Jerry Moore’s Friar Tuck Residence

Little nostalgic feeling! I was hired to illuminate this property maybe fifteen years ago by the owner, Jerry Moore. The home was a French chateau, broken down brick by brick, and rebuilt with a underground 26 car garage for his collection. At the time, Mr. Moore was my first client on the Forbes list from his dealings with shopping centers. Jerry wasn’t the kindest man and there are quite a few stories to back up his “attitudes”. I was confident in my abilities but he intimidated the heck out of me. The day we were to start the installation, we had to cancel and I called Jerry to reschedule. He wasn’t having it and went on a tirade calling me everything from a lying f*** to f***ing little ***hole! I took the abuse for a bit and to my surprise said, "Jerry, are you going to shut the f*** up for a second" He went quiet, asked for my boss, who then proceeded to tell me that Mr. Moore would like to see me Monday morning on site. 
Surprised I wasn’t fired, I went to meet Jerry and was amazed when he welcomed me with a handshake and put his arm around my shoulders…he damn near hugged me! We walked around while he told me stories, took me inside, and even showed me his car collection. 
Jerry passed away about ten years ago and the property has sat stagnant all this time. Drove by last week and noticed someone finally living there…it is one hell of an estate! 
At the time, my boss was almost 80 and had seen it all. He said Jerry enjoyed walking over everyone but I earned his respect when I stood up to him. He said, remember you’re the expert and don’t ever do it again. 

The devil's in the details...Comparing different LED lamps for landscape lighting by Chad Rodvold

Nothing too crazy here, but we have to do this from time to time with all the changing technology and claims within the LED industry. 

Today, I decided to compare three different manufacturers, I use relatively consistently, to evaluate their performance claims. Each one has the exact same specifications for wattage, kelvin, lumens, and beam spread...and each one is different from the other! Subtle differences, but still different.

I pay special attention to color consistency, beam spread, light intensity at center, and light intensity around the perimeter when analyzing lamp specifications. I then use this information to correlate the proper lamp with the appropriate plant material or architectural detail being illuminated. Momma always said "the devil's in the details" and I think paying special attention to those details differentiates E2 Illumination Designs from the competition.

E2 Illumination Designs, based in Dallas, Texas, is a landscape lighting design-build firm traveling wherever high quality design and construction is demanded.

Landscape Lighting for your Garden Ornamentation by Chad Rodvold

While traveling through south Texas this week, I went to a clients and found a unique addition to the front garden. At first I thought it had to be a joke, but then I realized how it was securely mounted to the trunk. Brings a smile to my face and I thought how lucky I am to have such "cool" clients. 

Now don't get me wrong, I am not thinking of adding a light to enhance the viewing pleasure of the bicycle anytime soon. However, I do think it was the perfect lead-in to illustrate several examples of different types of landscape lighting for enhancing your garden ornaments and statues. 

First, I can't tell you all my secrets and I do have to give credit to the master John Robin Watson for his teaching. He truly was amazing!


Typically, a garden ornament or statue is an afterthought when added to the landscape and that is how the lighting of it is usually done as well. Put a light on a stake in front of it and let it shine!!!! The only time to ever consider doing such a thing is when there's considerable landscape around to conceal the lighting unit and there are no trees on the property. This means do all your feature lighting from the trees. The above statue was illuminated with a low voltage 50W Par36 incandescent on a dimmer. The key to this type of lighting is finding the correct location for the lighting unit and amount to dim for the appropriate affect.  

Below, this garden ornament on a west Texas ranch was illuminated with a medium 3,000 kelvin 24W LED spot with a special lens and dimmer. Again, location of the unit is extremely important to get the proper coverage and lighting intensity.

While working at JWLI

While working at JWLI

The above feature is when you have to use everything in your arsenal so a 300W Par56 incandescent and 500W Par64 incandescent were used to achieve this result. Both lights are on separate dimmers and you have to determine the type of beam spread to use, for example spot, flood, medium flood, wide flood and narrow flood. Proximity to the feature and the feature characteristics will help you in determining which one to use.

Garden ornaments bring so much to an outdoor environment that it requires proper illumination or that ornamentation will turn into an eye sore in the evening hours. Just google lighting outdoor statue and look at the images. Most features are illuminated from the ground and the lighting creates a hot spot on the lower portion of the feature while the upper portion is either in the dark or shadowed. Also, most of the pictures are taken at dusk when the light intensity isn't showing as great. Little tricks the imitators try to use!

Illuminating garden elements is difficult and there isn't a one type or style of light for every type of feature. If we can help you in illuminating a special garden ornament for your home and garden, please contact us.

Low Voltage vs. Line Voltage for your Landscape Lighting by Chad Rodvold

Low voltage- Dallas Landscape Lighting

Low voltage- Dallas Landscape Lighting

Line Voltage- South Texas Landscape Lighting

Line Voltage- South Texas Landscape Lighting

A good rule of thumb if you are considering landscape lighting for your home is "large mature trees use line voltage and small ornamental trees use low voltage". 

The pictures illustrate two properties we recently finished installing both low voltage and line voltage systems. The low voltage photograph shows Savannah Holly ornamental trees and a Japanese Maple being illuminated with low voltage LED uplighting. The large Texas Live Oak is illuminated with line voltage mercury vapor downlighting and uplighting.

When comparing the two types of systems there are numerous things to consider such as kelvin rating, beam spread, energy consumption, cost, warranty, and maintenance just to name a few. However, in over 85% of my initial consultations, the client's only desire is to have the end result look beautiful and they don't really care about technical specifications. In the end, the client's landscape will dictate the type of lighting and this basic design principle will serve you well.

Tip for low-voltage landscape lighting: Consider installing the electrical wiring in conduit. At E2 Illumination Designs this is almost always the "standard procedure". Code doesn't require contractors to put low-voltage wiring in conduit as in line-voltage systems. Landscapes (and client desires) continually change, so when the yardman digs up that shrub to plant new seasonal color your electrical wiring is protected.

Tip for line-voltage landscape lighting: Consider having an additional dedicated circuit pulled to one (or more) trees or any other necessary electrical locations. This will give you added flexibility with how you use your outdoor space. For example, you'll now have a plug location(s) for yard work, outdoor fans, holiday lighting, and party lighting. 

E2 Illumination Designs is a design-build-maintain landscape lighting company based in Dallas and continually works throughout the country wherever fine outdoor lighting design is demanded. Please contact us with any questions.