Certified & Insured Landscaping Pros

Can Landscape Lighting Damage Trees & Plants?

Worried Placing Lights Near Tree Branches Will Hurt Them?

Many people new to placing landscape lighting throughout their property want to be mindful with how it can interact with or affect the foliage already there. In particular, it is quite common for homeowners to wonder if landscape lighting can be harmful to trees, which require ample amounts of light to grow and thrive. Will there be some sort of negative impact to a tree if a landscape light is placed in it, or too near it? The answer requires a quick glimpse into a science textbook.

How Trees Use Light

In a simplified explanation, trees and other plant life uses photosynthesis to absorb energy from daylight. The light from the sun that trees can absorb is mostly within the visible spectrum, or light that we can see, ranging from violet to red. The light emitted by your landscape lighting fixtures will be the same visible spectrum light given off by the sun, only in a far-less intense way.

In general, trees will not be harmed by nearby landscape lighting because those lights are giving off helpful light and does so with much less intensity than the sun. Infrared or ultraviolet light might adversely affect a tree’s health by interfering with its photosensitive cells or interrupting its natural amounts of chloroplasts, the part of the plant cell that contains chlorophyll necessary for photosynthesis. However, none of the outdoor light fixtures you would consider for your landscape lighting should be giving off amounts of infrared or ultraviolet light great enough to affect plant life. There are even specially designed outdoor LED bulbs that emit minimized or entirely eliminated levels of light in the infrared or ultraviolet spectrum.

How to Uplight a Tree

Uplighting means using lamps ground in the lawn to illuminate the trees. The lamps usually light up the tree trunks or the canopy of a tree. It’s a way to brighten the lawn without extensive work. In fact, you can even put in the lights yourself.

Steps to uplighting your tree:

  1. Plan the Effect – It’s important to map out just where you want the lights to go. Since most people usually use stake-mounted lamps, it’s important to keep them out of areas that receive high foot traffic.
  2. Place the Lamps – Once you know where you want the lamps to go, it’s time to set them in their locations. If you’re using solar powered lamps, make sure the area gets enough sunlight. Similarly, if you’re using wiring, make sure they’re close enough to an outlet.
  3. Wire the Lamps – Some lamps require wiring. It’s important to read the manual before you start any wiring work. Once the system is properly wired, you’ll be good to go.

Special Considerations When Using Landscape Lighting Near Trees

Even though landscape lighting is not likely to cause any immediate or measurable harm to nearby trees, this does not mean that they have zero effect on them. Most trees rely on the duration of sunlight to know when the seasons change, which signals them to drop their leaves, close their pores, and complete other natural processes. An abundance of light or heat could tamper with those processes in unexpected ways.

For example, if a strong outdoor light is focused on a deciduous tree throughout the night, it is possible that the tree could interpret it as an endless summer. When the colder season rolls through the region, the tree will not have prepared for the chill by closing its pores. The tree could consequently suffer chill or frost damage, which may mar its appearance or actually kill it.

Are Solar Lights Bad for Plants?

Much like trees, constant lighting in the yard can affect your plants. Plants have a rhythm, often regulated by the light. If your solar lights are soft and only used for mood lighting, it should not hurt the plants. However, if they are brighter or concentrated on a certain part of your lawn, it could disrupt the plant’s rhythm. They won’t be able to determine the seasons easily and might be ill prepared for when winter settles in.

Landscape Lighting from Your Top SCV Landscaping Company

If you are not sure if your trees and plants will fare well with landscaping lighting placed on, in, or near them, you should contact Leafs-U-Green Landscape Services of Santa Clarita Valley. Our thoroughly trained contractors have decades of industry experience and 20,000+ landscaping jobs under their belts. Using our knowledge, resources, and experience, we can come up with a landscape lighting project that suits your needs while also protecting the trees on your property.

Tell us about your landscaping job today by calling (661) 220-7017 and asking for a Request A Quote.