With its stunning architecture and picturesque neighborhoods, Chicago is a canvas waiting to be illuminated. Landscape lighting can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, enhancing the beauty of every outdoor space in the city of Chicago while providing essential elements like security and ambiance. Beyond personal space, the right lighting doesn’t just improve your curb’s appeal; it’s a gift to the entire community.


This article will provide a comprehensive landscape lighting checklist to help you create the perfect outdoor lighting setup.

The Ultimate Chicago Landscape Lighting Checklist

1. Planning Your Landscape Lighting

Defining your goals

Thinking and Defining Your GoalsStart by figuring out your goals when kicking off your landscape lighting checklist. Think of it like mapping out your journey on a lighting roadmap. Here are three main goals to think about:


  1. Enhancing security: Consider your lights as protectors, guarding your outdoor area at night. Subtle lights near doors, paths, and dark corners can enhance safety without compromising style.


  1. Highlighting landscape features: Every outside space has standout elements – a big tree, charming fountain, or distinctive architecture. Picture those highlights stealing the show after sunset.


  1. Creating ambiance: Whether you’re throwing a party or just chilling under the night sky, the right lighting can turn your place into a cozy and mood-filled spot.

Surveying your property

Go for a walk in your outdoor space. Identify the trees, pathways, and exciting features that could benefit from some lighting. Also, check the current electrical outlets and determine where you might need extra wiring or solar fixtures. Being familiar with your space is like having a game plan for your light display.

Budgeting for Landscape Lighting

Outdoor Landscape BudgetingThe Landscape Lighting Checklist isn’t just about making things pretty; it’s about not burning a hole in your pocket while doing it. So, knowing your budget upfront is crucial. Having a budget isn’t just about limits; it’s a guide for selecting fixtures and designing your outdoor space to align with your vision while staying practical and wallet-friendly.

2. Choosing Lighting Fixtures 

Fixture types

When it comes to landscape lighting, choosing the right fixtures and designing the layout is key to making your yard look amazing after dark. For fixture types, spotlights and floodlights let you highlight focal points like gardens or architectural details. Path lights illuminate walking areas and steps for safety and visibility. In-ground well lights offer subtle mood lighting, and string lights add a delightful decorative sparkle.


By curating the perfect combination of fixtures and wattages, your landscape can look like it’s coming straight out of our portfolio.

Energy efficiency

Landscape Lighting checklistNow, let’s flip the switch to energy efficiency. LED technology has revolutionized landscape lighting, becoming one of the four landscaping lighting trends for 2023. These bulbs cast a warm and inviting glow and consume significantly less energy than traditional bulbs. With these bulbs, you illuminate your outdoor space efficiently and enjoy the perks of putting more dollars back into your pocket.

3. Designing Your Lighting Layout

Creating a lighting plan

Another aspect of our landscape lighting checklist is building your lighting plan. Think of creating a lighting plan as the architect’s sketch before building a masterpiece. This plan maps out the spots that deserve a touch of light. From illuminating key features to guiding pathways, a well-thought-out lighting plan ensures no corner is left in the dark.

Zoning and layers


Zoning helps you create different lighting zones for various activities, making each spot special. Whether it’s a chill corner with cozy seating or a well-lit pathway, zoning ensures each area gets its time in the spotlight.


Layers, on the other hand, bring an artistic touch to the equation. By placing different lights at different heights and angles, you create a 3D effect. Suddenly, your outdoor space isn’t just lit; it’s a work of art, offering both practical brightness and a feast for the eyes.

4. Installation and Wiring 

DIY vs. Professional installation

Remember to put DIY vs. professional installation considerations in your landscape lighting checklist. While DIY can be tempting, there are moments when a professional touch, like the skilled hands at American Gardens, is the way to go. If you’re dealing with complex wiring and intricate fixtures or want the peace of mind that comes with expert installation, it’s time to let the professionals take the reins.

Wiring considerations

Wire Stripping Your Outdoor LightingWhether you’re a DIY enthusiast or prefer a pro’s touch, the key is simple: ensure the wires are snug, connections are secure, and everything is in good shape. Why does it matter? Well, safe wiring practices are a must for any landscape lighting project. Messing up the electrical work could lead to serious hazards.


Refer to the National Electrical Code (NEC)  as your go-to guide for electrical safety. It has all kinds of essential rules to follow, such as burial depth for underground cables, outdoor-rated wires and boxes, appropriate conduit sizing, and the need for GFCI outlets. For extra safety, consult your local permit office for other codes specific to your region.

5. Timers and Controls

Automation options

Next on our landscape lighting checklist is automated timers and controls. It’s 2023, and your lights should be as smart as your phone. Imagine strolling into your garden and, poof, it lights up! Or tap your phone to adjust the brightness to set the perfect vibe.


With features like timers, geofencing, and smart controls, it’s like having a magic wand for your lights. On top of that, it can link up with other smart home gadgets, like security cameras, giving you an extra dose of security and convenience.

Energy-saving benefits

Energy Saving BenefitsThose smart controls make your space look cool and save you some bucks on your energy bill. Imagine your lights being super smart, knowing when to shine and when to take a little break. It’s like having a genius switch that keeps things cozy and eco-friendly.

6. Maintenance and Care

Regular inspections

Lastly, regular inspections should be on your landscape lighting checklist. Think of it as giving your outdoor lights a health check-up. Periodically inspect for any signs of damage, wear, or malfunctions. Are the connections secure? Is there any wear on the fixtures? Catching issues early ensures your lights stay in top-notch condition, making your outdoor space a well-lit haven.

Cleaning and bulb replacement

Outdoor Lighting Bulb ReplacementCleaning and changing bulbs might be the last on your mind, but they’re crucial for maintenance. Regular cleaning ensures your lights stay dirt-free, helping them shine bright. Also, each bulb has its lifespan, so knowing when to change them is vital. For instance, an incandescent bulb might last around 1,000 days, while an LED can go strong for about 25,000 days. That’s like comparing one year to a whopping 23 years!

End Note

And there you have it – the Landscape Lighting Checklist for a Chicago-style outdoor transformation! If all this lighting talk has your head spinning, worry not. American Gardens is here to help. From designing the perfect lighting layout to building and maintaining your outdoor oasis, we’ve got you covered in every step.

If you’re ready to turn your outdoor dreams into a brilliantly lit reality, don’t hesitate to contact us. Let’s craft the perfect lighting scheme for your unique property and vision together!

Contact American Gardens Today!