Landscape lighting – when done properly – can really make a difference in how a home looks after dark and its security.

Certain kinds of uplights illuminate trees, which makes branches and leaves shine like silver for a beautiful effect. This same light can also wash the sides of homes, eliminating shadows and increasing safety for residents and visitors alike.

Outdoor lighting is also a good idea for porches/front doors, driveways, pathways or sidewalks, steps and patios.

Here’s how to get the most out of your landscape lighting:

1. Aim carefully – make sure light beams are the right size and aimed exactly where you want it to go. Not only will this make an aesthetic difference outside, people inside nearby rooms won’t be affected, and views of clear, starry skies will be unobstructed.

2. Energy savings – most outdoor light fixtures are either manufactured as LED or can accommodate an LED bulb. Although LEDs cost more upfront than traditional incandescent or even CFLs, they last years longer and use less energy so you save more money over a longer period of time.

3. Matchmaking – Look at your yard at dusk to watch for how shadows fall and then again after dark, keeping the shadows in mind so you know not just where to place lights but also how strong you want the light to be. Low wattage fixtures are typically enough to get the job done without breaking the bank each month.

4. Think safety – Well-lit pathways and stairs drastically reduce the likelihood of an injury-causing fall. Lighting is also a natural deterrent to crime, especially when porches, patios and spaces under and/or near windows are illuminated.