Water gardens, fountains, artificial waterfalls, flow water jets, spillway bowls, ornamental fish ponds and bubblers all serve the purpose of enlivening front yards in homes, hotels and offices, particularly during the day.
But what happens when dusk sets in and the gloom of the night envelopes the yard? Landscapers are adding underwater lighting, installations that transform spaces into enchanted gardens.
James Kahiga, a lighting consultant and technical director of Lucitech EA, a firm based in Nairobi says that when setting up underwater lighting, the depth of the water feature matters.
“For a swimming pool, lighting systems can be fixed at up to two metres deep,” says James.
Spotlights work best in swimming pools, and they can be blended with linear lighting.
Spotlights are usually placed on the walls of the swimming pool while the linear lighting is fitted on the steps. For a wow effect, fix the underwater lighting not too far from seating spaces or passageways.
Installing underwater lighting ranges from Sh200,000 to Sh1 million depending the intricacy of the fittings.
For laminar flow water jets, James advises using LED spotlights which are placed below the water feature.
Ensure the lighting fixture is protected from wind, so that the water arcs maintain a perfect form and rhythm. The water should also be clean for optimal enjoyment.
Water curtains and water sheet fountains can also be illuminated in just about the same way, only that linear lighting is the most appropriate in this case.
A white lighting system angled towards the sheet or curtain of water creates a magnificent display.
For fountains and bubblers, James recommends recessed spotlights of varied colours to be positioned at the base of the bubbling feature in the swimming pool.
Underwater lighting allows one to create refracted light that dances which works in unison with the garden, coaxing the night spirits to come out and play.
“Rather than have a ‘dead’ water feature at dusk, use lighting to give it life regardless the time of day,” James says.
One can also use external lighting to illuminate a water feature.
In such a case, use down lights from nearby trees, a high balustrade or tactically fix the lights on the ground around the artificial waterfall, fountain, or water curtain.
When planning for an underwater lighting, one should have in mind that they are high-maintenance and are more expensive to install. One will have to replace the bulbs, cables or bulb covers often.