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Benefits of Outdoor Lighting for Safer After-School Play

Kids are back in school! And now, with school routines and cooler weather, the prime playtime shifts. Kids are outside playing, riding bikes, and having fun in the late afternoon and often into the evening. As the days get shorter, the daylight for playing outside disappears sooner and sooner. One of the benefits of outdoor lighting for your home is to encourage outdoor after-school play by adding visibility and fun spaces that help kids make the most of those outdoor hours while the weather allows.

Benefit 1: Increase visibility for kids at play

You might have beautiful uplighting for your home and some great bistro lights over the deck. But if kids are playing in the shadowy sideyard or riding bikes up and down the driveway, that’s where you need outdoor lighting, too! You might need to look at areas you normally wouldn’t think about highlighting. If kids are riding bikes through dusk, then pole-mounted lights along the driveway can make it easier for kids to see where they’re going. 

How to get it: To illuminate the areas where kids play, first observe for several days. Notice their favorite spots and areas of frequent activity. Then take a walk around those areas at different times, from sunset to complete darkness. Look for areas where the current outdoor lighting doesn’t reach. 

Benefit 2: Make activities safer

The right outdoor lighting can make games, sports, and favorite activities more fun and safer for kids. Think about playtime activities when you’re deciding on what kind of outdoor lighting might be best. For example, typically we’d install lower fixtures for walkway lighting — they stand about 12” high and throw light down on the ground to illuminate surfaces for walking. But if kids are playing soccer all around a path you want to light up, low-level fixtures may not be the right idea. Instead, consider bistro lights strung from tree to tree, or landscape lighting that shines upward at surrounding trees. 

How to get it: It starts with observation, again! Notice where the kids are playing and what they’re doing, then assess the lighting. Is it adequate? Is it safe? Does it get in their way or shine in their eyes? Lighting that’s designed solely for highlighting the landscape or adding the right ambiance on the patio might not the be the best choice for the kids’ favorite play areas. 

Benefit 3: Bring the kids together 

Are there any common areas that neighborhood kids use together? There may be a courtyard, a nearby playground, or other areas that are shared by multiple homes or the whole neighborhood. Good outdoor lighting can transform these spaces into areas that kids can enjoy together through the late afternoon and early evening hours. 

How to do it: Talk to the neighborhood association about installing lights in common areas. Even a couple of well-placed fixtures can make a huge difference in how welcoming and safe a common area feels. 

Benefit 4: Encourage creativity and fun

Outdoor lighting is so much more than a spotlight on the garage corner or a new fixture on the front porch. There are many options and ideas you can use to create fun and safe spaces for kids to play and explore, in your own backyard. Low-voltage LEDs are safe, energy-efficient, and allow you to change the lighting colors. Imagine a cool backyard fort with lights that change colors, or a little teepee in the garden with string lights. Bistro lights and walkway lights can make that outdoor fire pit feel even more magical. There are lots of ways that the right kind of outdoor lighting can encourage more outdoor time, creativity, and fun for kids, any time of year. 

How to do it: The options are as big as your own imagination, but remember that a little goes a long way. You can start with something as simple as twinkle lights twined around the deck railing to make outdoor family dinners in the fall feel special. Then check out that favorite climbing tree, corner of the backyard, fort, swingset, or play area. Be sure that the lights you use are safely installed so they enhance a fun play atmosphere without getting in the way of kids at play.

Whatever kind of outdoor lighting you use, be sure that the wiring is buried so it’s safe and doesn’t create a safety issue. Use solid fixtures that stay in place, and keep outdoor lighting on a timer system that adjusts with the time of year so lights come on when they’re needed. Need help with getting the benefits of outdoor lighting for your St. Louis home? Get in touch for a free consultation.

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