Pool and Landscape Lighting

Above: Custom Color-Kinetics lighting illuminates the pool and waterfall areas, giving the entire backyard a welcoming ambiance. Caviness Landscape Design, Inc., Mahwah, NJ; Photography by K.O. Rinearson


Outdoor lighting techniques help to create a particular mood or ambiance in your backyard, adding color, drama, and excitement to your swimming pool and landscape while also keeping the pool area safe.

To get tips on pool lighting and landscape lighting effects, we spoke to Kelly Caviness, president/CEO of Caviness Landscape Design, Inc., Mahwah, NJ, who uses specialized lighting in many of his stunning pool designs.

LuxuryPools.com: Why is outdoor lighting so important in and around a pool?

Kelly Caviness: Most importantly, lighting needs to be incorporated in an outdoor setting for safety reasons. Pathways, outdoor kitchens, dining areas, as well as the pool decks need to be properly illuminated so guests can easily and carefully travel from the pool to the deck to the house.

Secondly, by incorporating lighting into your landscape or pool, the designer is able to create a mood—romantic, playful, or whatever the homeowner desires. Plus, today’s computerized systems allow that mood to change to suit the occasion.


Caviness Landscape Design color pool lighting night waterfall grotto

LP: Does each type of outdoor lighting produce a different kind of color? Which types are best for pools, hardscaping, and landscaping?

KC: There are different wattage and color of lights for every budget, which create different mood settings in a pool design and bring a totally different look at night from what is seen in the daytime.

Incandescent lights are more of a soft yellow light and look best on hardscapes such as stone walls, pathways, etc.

LED lights give off a white light and look best when highlighting plant material. I like to use the DMX controlled light systems, which offer a bluish-green color that is comparable to the old mercury vapor lights that are now almost non-existent because of their hazardous materials.


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LP: What are some landscape lighting techniques? What types of pool lighting effects can be achieved?

KC: Nothing produces more excitement in an outdoor area than highlighting a prized specimen plant or spectacular water feature.

When you have a high canopy in trees, lighting that is directed up toward that canopy is very dramatic plus the lights won’t shine directly down on people.
I also like to create a silhouette behind water features and pools as well.

In years past, it was always customary to have one big white light at the deep-end shining toward the shallow end of the pool. Now, there are not only white lights, but color fiber-optic or DMX controlled light options.

Personally, I like to use DMX controlled lights in my pool designs. Not only do they allow multiple light shows–which can be customized for each client–but also they provide an endless choice of color combinations and effects. In addition, they can be bright or dimmed to the client’s wishes. When used in the pool design and landscape, DMX lights bring the whole design together at night to create different mood settings, whether a party or a romantic evening mode.

You can also use DMX system to sync with the lighting in the pool. They are expensive but I believe they are well worth the investment.

Check out more photos and watch videos of Caviness Landscape Design, Mahwah, NJ >>
Photos courtesy of Caviness Landscape Design, Inc. Photography by K.O. Rinearson

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