The Art of Landscape Lighting: Key Takeaways from Janet Lennox Moyer’s Talk at Lightapalooza 2023

by | Feb 22, 2023 | News

Trees reflecting into water from Janet Lennox Moyer at Lightapalooza 2023
Janet Lennox Moyer poses for a picture at Lightapalooza 2023 before her talk.

Janet Lennox Moyer – Lightapalooza 2023.

Janet Lennox Moyer, IALD, is widely recognized as THE leading global expert in landscape lighting. It was a great achievement for Lightapalooza to secure her as a speaker. We featured her in the April 2022 Up Close column of designing lighting (dl) magazine.

In her talk, Moyer shared several insights on landscape lighting. One of her main objectives is to ensure that the user does not see evidence of the fixture.

Moyer recommends that designers ask the user about the focal points in the landscape. This helps the designer draw the viewer’s eye to those focal points. Objects that are easily recognizable by their size, such as a bench, should be highlighted. Human scale is critical because it helps the eye put the landscape into proportion.

Downlighting of landscaping is vital in Moyer’s designs. She was one of the first, if not the first, to introduce this concept to landscape lighting. The sun highlights the landscape from above, which is why downlighting is effective. Downlights mounted in trees will also not be run over by lawnmowers. Downlighting can cover more territory because it is off the ground with a narrower spot than you would use at ground level.

While Moyer was not an early adopter of LED technology, 100% of her designs now use LED. Aiming or shielding is vital to her designs. Lamps should be regressed in the fixture to reduce glare which was commonplace with HID technology. Many LED designs have LED arrays mounted at the surface of the fixture. She also recommends never aiming above a 35-degree angle to minimize glare.

Moyer focuses on vertical lighting because we are vertical animals and see vertically before we see horizontally. She also notes that great landscape lighting can reduce the “black glass” effect at night, allowing users to keep windows open and adding to the dimension of the home. Using less wattage and more fixtures can give the home a more three-dimensional look.

She emphasized the importance of power distribution in the design process. As foliage grows, more lighting may be required, and it is essential to keep track of how much power is left on the transformer.

Moyer reminded the audience of other educational resources, including the IES Learn Night Lighting module. She also discussed the International Landscape Lighting Institute’s (ILLI) five-day, five-night course where students conduct full-scale mockups. She founded ILLI in 2010.

Finally, Moyer offered her book for sale. The Art of Landscape Lighting features 800 color photos and detailed drawings. Covering her 45 years of design, the book explains Moyer’s thinking and planning to respond to project needs and challenges.

I purchased a signed copy of the book at the ArchLIGHT summit and have been experimenting with her techniques in my backyard. As of this writing, none of my landscapes looks as good as the lighting in her pictures, but each time I see her speak, I walk away with new ideas.

At the end of her talk, many people lined up to buy a signed copy.