January 20, 2023
Landscape Ontario's Landscape Lighting Sector Group has released a Lighting Sector Tool Kit aimed at providing contractors with an ever-evolving document that includes handy tips on the topics of:
  • Sales
  • Design
  • Service
  • Planning
Download the latest version (PDF format) or refer to the information below.

Produced by member of the Landscape Ontario Lighting Sector Group:
Scott Sim, Chair
Terry Childs
Frank DiMarco
Cam Hansuld
Carl Hastings
Steve Hernadez
Jon Higo
Ken Martin
Don McQueen
Rob Redden
James Riddell
Gerad VandenBussche
tool kit cover

Table of Contents

  • Why is landscape lighting important to a project?
  • Contractor Sales Process
    • Collect information
    • Take time to understand
    • Presenting your proposal
    • Closing the sale
  • Design with purpose
  • Transitional Lighting
  • Balance
  • Think Like a Designer
  • Role of Lighting
  • Design and Lighting Techniques
  • Lighting Application
  • Lenses and Filters
  • Designing Tree Lighting

  • Service Checklist
  • ESA Checklist
Install Best Practices
Working as a Subcontractor


Why is landscape lighting important to a project?

  • Why a property owner would want landscape lighting.
  • Safety, security and beauty
  • We are not selling parts, we are selling an experience and a feeling
  • Enhance your lifestyle in your environment
  • Get great return on investment - it rains from time to time, but gets dark every night!
  • Four pillars - aesthetics, safety & security, functionality, fear of darkness
  • Aesthetics of the property, make it beautiful
  • Enjoy the landscape both day & night
  • Add to the property value
  • Safety - walking paths, elevation changes, dark areas, avoiding hazards
  • Security - deter trespassers and easier to identify trespassers

Contractor Sales Process — best practices for selling landscape lighting

Collect information about the lead before the sales call
  • Where did the lead come from?
  • What type of property is it?
  • Does the potential customer understand what you offer?
  • The key question - what are the chances that this is a qualified lead?

Take the time to understand your prospect and their property.
  • Ask meaningful questions to understand what they want.
  • Do they have a budget?
  • Is the budget reasonable given their desired result?
  • How do they want to control the lighting system? (programming, wifi, Bluetooth, dimming, zone control and colour).
  • Take the time to walk the property (inside and out). It is useful to see the view the client has from inside their home, you may notice focal points through their windows that you could otherwise miss.

Presenting your proposal
  • Show professionalism - arrive on time, dress professionally and speak like a professional
  • Demonstrate you have a professional organization, highlight your membership to Landscape Ontario, your participation in the Landscape Lighting Sector groups, obtain permits and demonstrate your design capabilities
  • Understand different lighting techniques and be able to describe them to a potential customer (ex. Moonlighting, Grazing, Shadowing, Avoiding Glare)
  • Provide warranty for both the products and your workmanship
  • Provide visual aids with inspirational pictures or working demo kit
  • Provide some technical information and fixture options, but be careful to not provide too much
  • Set yourself apart from other offers

Closing the sale

  • Overcome common objections like price.
  • Offer options like altering the design or a phased in installation
  • Build a webpage or social media profile showing examples of you’re work and positive online reviews to build trust in the prospect
  • Handle rejection professionally and leave the door open for them to contact you again if you are not awarded the job


Design is subjective! What areas should be lit? What's the best way to feature light in that area?
TIP - Design with purpose - direct the eye, don’t just blast everything with light.

  • Use different intensities of light.
  • Brighter light will attract the eye.
  • Feature plants should be brighter than background elements.
  • Pathways/stairs leading to a destination should be well lit for safe travel, but focus intensity towards the final destination.
TIP - Transitional lighting carries your eye from one feature to another through different levels of light.

  • Featured items should be lit with a higher level of brightness.  
  • Transitional lighting fills in the dark spots between features with lower intensity lighting.
  • Be careful of too bright AND too dark.
  • Too much contrast can be uncomfortable.
TIP - Look for balance in a scene - ie. too many lights/elements in one area of a property without considering the whole view of a property

  • Look to balance features.
  • very large tree could need lighting at a more human relatable scale.
  • 5-6’ features or a very large tree may need a large down lighting presence to ground the tree and balance the scale of a large property.
TIP - Think like a designer! Look for focal points, sight lines, nodes/transition areas, symmetry, repetition.

  • Site lines.
  • Where will the homeowner be when they are looking at their space?
  • Inside the house.
  • On the deck / patio / outdoor kitchen / hot tub.
  • Approaches to the home.
  • Access to the back from the front.
  • Safety.
  • Pathways.
  • Steps.
  • Security.
  • Sides of homes.
  • Outer property lines.
  • Aesthetics.
  • Landscape features.
  • Trees or ornamental trees.
  • Statues, water features.
  • Garden beds.
  • Architectural features.
  • Stone and brickwork of house.
  • Stone or brick work of entry pillars.
  • House numbers.
  • Iron gates (highlighting and shadowing).
  • Linear lighting for steps.

What features does the homeowner have that would benefit from lighting?

What features does the homeowner have that would benefit from NOT lighting?

Issues can also be intentionally avoided.

Don’t light areas you don’t want to draw attention to at night.

Light elements in front of something you don’t want to see, your eye will stop at what is lit.

Take cues from site for material choices: painted, stainless, brass. Object reflectance is a huge factor on choice - colour of brick or foliage. Take cues from the site for fixture styles like modern vs. traditional / round vs. square / subtle vs whimsy.
TIP - As a lighting designer we must understand what role lighting will play in the use and enjoyment of the outdoor areas by the homeowner.  

  • Find out what the homeowner is looking to light.
  • What is important to them.
  • What does the homeowner see as their feature items.
  • Educate on what else might look good.
  • Discuss the benefit of transitional lighting in addition to lighting features.
  • Offer lighting options.
  • Option to light what they talked about.
  • Option that includes additional lighting from a design point of view.
  • Split areas into priority areas and secondary areas.
  • For example, front vs back or back vs front.
  • Concentrate on aesthetics first and security after.
  • Advise that it is better to light fewer areas well than to have a lot of areas poorly lit.
  • A do-it-yourselfer would tend to do the latter. A designer would favour the former.
  • Suggest additions in a scaled budget that will enhance the landscape over time.
TIP - Use different design and lighting techniques to showcase landscape and architectural features.

  • Architectural lighting.
  • This is lighting up the unique or interesting architectural features of a home like pillars, columns, quoins, stonework, shadows from mortar lines.
  • Up lighting.
  • This is the most common type of lighting and the most economical lighting method in terms of fixture cost and ease of installation
  • Front lighting, cross lighting and backlighting are examples of up lighting.  
  • Down lighting.
  • This is good for lighting planters  (where up lighting cannot be done well).
  • This type of lighting can also light up large areas.
  • It can also produce a moon light effect.
  • Moonlighting.
  • Placing fixtures high up in trees, usually higher than 20 feet, pointing down though branches and leaves to create a soft, shadowing effect that simulates natural moonlight.
  • Up lighting needs to be incorporated with moonlighting to light the space above the fixtures in the trees.
  • Silhouetting.
  • This technique provides a strong contrast between whatever is in front of the fixtures, like a bush or tree with an interesting trunk or branch structure.
  • Area or path lighting.
  • These are good design techniques to guide people along a path from one area to another.
  • Path lighting can also be incorporated as safety lighting for steps in a pathway or walkway.
  • Area lighting can also be used to highlight the colour of annuals in garden beds.
TIP - Use the right fixture for the lighting application. Lamps and integrated fixtures come in many different styles and options. One size does not fit all - depends on what you are lighting.

  • Up lights.
  • Use for highlighting vertical features in garden beds.
  • Wall Wash.
  • Use for lighting wide elements.
  • Down Lights.
  • Constructed specifically to be aimed downward to avoid rain intrusion.
  • Well Lights.
  • Use in turf or flat areas.
  • Strip Lights and Coping Lights.
  • Can be hidden.
  • Be careful they may need a dimmer to soften the effect.
  • Path Lights.
  • Many options - fixed/aimable, various heights, styles and materials- should match with plant material or placement.
TIP - Use lenses or filters to get additional effects from fixtures

  • Linear Spread Lens.
  • Flatten out a light pattern - eg. walkways and walls.
  • Spread Lens.
  • Widen out a light pattern in all dimensions.
  • Greater spread - eg. broad plant material, large areas to cover.
  • Hex Louver.
  • Reduces lateral glare - eg. down lights over seating areas or bullets along walkways.
  • Coloured lenses.
  • Change the colour of the light to accentuate.
  • Eg. holiday themes.
  • Bring out intensities.
  • Blue spruce with blue lens looks more intense.
TIP - Designing how to light a tree depends on the tree’s characteristics. Take cues from the tree! Evergreen vs Deciduous  Open form vs tight. Colour of tree, leaves and bark

  • Conical shaped trees.
  • Surround tree with multiples fixtures.
  • Place fixtures approximately 2-3’ outside the conical line of the tree aimed parallel to the natural angle of the tree.
  • Plan for growth.
  • Globe shaped.
  • Light the underside of tree.
  • Add fixtures further back to light the top of the crown.
  • Teardrop/columnar shaped.
  • Light parallel to natural angle.
  • Add fixtures further back to light the top.
  • Open Form.
  • Light the interior as well as the exterior of the tree.
  • Up light AND downlight where possible.
  • Grounding the base of the tree avoids floating effect.
  • Add more light to dark trees that don’t reflect light back or scatter light.
  • Eg. cedars and yews.
  • If you can’t place fixtures effectively, consider lighting something else!


TIP - Budgets can vary tremendously
  • Prepare clients for the cost of lighting, it is usually much more expensive then they anticipate.
  • Homeowners who have not had lighting before, tend to think in terms of lighting features.  
  • Not many think of transitional lighting between features.  
  • Once explained, they understand it, but it is also one of the factors that makes lighting more expensive than they thought.
  • Educate the client on the “why.”
  • For cost, number of fixtures, styles, materials, infrastructure, etc.
  • People spend a lot of money on their landscaping, all of which disappears when the sun goes down.
  • Lighting extends the time in which one’s new, fabulous, landscaping can be enjoyed by themselves, family and friends well into the evening.
  • Design to get the best lighting effects to fit a budget.  
  • Light a single area really well instead of lighting many areas poorly
  • Design for future possibilities.
  • Allow for expansion, the client often wants more after seeing a well lit landscape



  • Application of a preventative compound at the bulb contacts to mitigate corrosion.
  • Lubricate gaskets to allow them to continue acting as a proper seal.
  • Clean the lens with Windex to allow a pure and clear shine of light.
  • Reposition the fixtures that may have shifted due to frost heave if servicing in the Spring; reposition or repair for other contractor and homeowner interferences in-season.
  • Relocate or revise fixtures whose subject may have outgrown the light.
  • Prune mildly for light effectiveness.
  • Test the overall performance of the bulbs or integrated fixtures – look for dimming or failed diodes.
  • Back-off tree-mounted fixtures & fasteners away from the tree.
  • Inspect the timer and transformer to guarantee their function. Test voltage and amperage at the transformer.
  • Replace the timer batteries to protect the programming.
  • Revisit the site at night to re-aim and re-position as needed
  • Give an automatic enrolment option for every year on spring service - no need to call every year for service at the start of the spring
  • Give the client pricing options in the communication - full package or quick clean up option
  • Make sure client knows what is included and what is to be charged as an extra in the visit
  • Offer suggestions for additions/enhancements to the system
  • Opens opportunity to expand scope of work - upgrade house lighting  - exterior and interior



  1. Conduits: before driveways, walkways, planters, sodding, mulching, ground cover/small plantings.
  2. Capacity now and for the future.
  3. Plan out Lines: 120V, low volt, communication, cameras, networks.
  4. Controls - simple to complex.
  5. Coordinate with other trades.
  6. Access - building before they are finished, before concrete is poured, artificial turf.

ESA Permit Application Forms - Permits are required!

Use the link below for the appropriate residential application form. Find more information related to ESA Permits.
New Residential For new installations on a residential premise (includes: modular/prefab homes, multi-unit residential complexes [row-house, townhouse, semi detached house, duplex, triplex and quadruplex]).
Residential Renovation For renovation of individual residential units, including multi-unit buildings consisting of 4 or fewer units, basement apartments, granny suites, detached outbuildings and rewires.
Apartments For new installations (new apartment building/retirement home) and renovations of apartment units, multi unit residential buildings (with common entrance) 5+ dwelling units and retirement home.
HVAC Small Job For HVAC equipment installations done at Residential and Apartment sites.


The information shown here is for a person or company just starting out in the lighting business.  It contains most of the information one might need to get a job, install a job, or service it on an ongoing basis.

The assumption is that people/companies already big in lighting have a system in place.

Each of the examples, or sample layouts, are suggestions only.  They can be changed or modified to suit particular or specific instances.

Meeting Notes
When meeting with a client, take LOTS of notes. Ask questions about what they would like to light. Ask them what is important to them. Ask them if they have a budget. If there is no budget, ask them ranges of pricing to see what they are comfortable spending.  

Ask them to walk around the property with you to let them point out their areas of interest. What do they see when they look out the windows of the home? What areas do they use the most?  
You can also let them know what can be lit, from your perspective, focusing on safety (i.e. steps or changes in elevation), security (dark areas, gate entrances), aesthetics (architectural and/or landscape features).

Make lots of notes about the above conversation(s). Make notes, also, about where power is for a transformer. Can wire reach all places where a fixture might go, or are there physical barriers that cannot be overcome? What are you going to light, with what, and what will be the effect? (This will be useful when setting up the Design Layout.)

The more notes you have, the better you will be able to design a system, including all the right parts and the right number of labour hours to install. It might also save you from a second trip to the site for more information.

Design Layoutsee Figure 1
These are the words behind what you are proposing to install for a lighting client. It should describe what you are lighting, with what, and what kind of effect it will have.  

Ideally one might break it down into sections, with or without a total for the job. Breaking it down into parts lets one look at doing something over time, section by section. This is good for budget minded people. Including the total along with the sections, if a budget is of less concern, is handy to have too.  


Inputssee Figure 2
This will keep track of your costs such as:
  • Fixture costs
  • Lamp costs
  • Freight and Duty (duty if applicable)
  • exchange (if ordering items from the U.S.)
  • Markup
  • Labour rate
  • AMP Modifier (Average Market Place Modifier) to cover overhead, etc.
In this example, the input cells are coloured blue.

Proposalsee Figure 3
This will be what you provide to your client. It will show the price for each section of lighting so a person can decide to light area by area, if that is what the budget allows, or to know the cost of the whole project. One might choose to have a separate column for the transformer and controls.  

Ideally, the figures for the Proposal/Quote would get carried over from the input calculations.

Transformer Selectionsee Figures 4 & 5
This is not as key as it was when using incandescent lamps, but is useful if a multi transformer installation is required for a large number of fixtures.  

In this example, the input cells are shown in green.

As information is input into the green cells — the run, wire size, # of lamps, lamp size in watts, length of home run — the wattage is calculated and based upon the total watts, a transformer is sized.

Helpful Extras

Fixture Count see Figures 6 & 7
If an installation is large, sometimes it is useful to have a summary of the fixtures by area and total. This can be used for ordering purposes if a Proposal is accepted by the client.  This, along with the Design Layout, is useful for service work in the future so one has the information available without having to go out to the client’s place to see what is needed.   

Lamp Count: Similarly, for ordering and future service work, having details of the lamp selection is important such as type of lamp, wattage, beam spread, colour temperature, lumens, CRI index.
Fixture Cut Sheets: Manufacturers’ cut sheets for fixtures are often handy to have for future reference, or if a client wants additional information.


Take LOTS of photos of the property while gathering information for a Proposal/Quote, and/or before doing an installation. The reason for taking a lot of photos when preparing for the Proposal/Quote is that one does not have to revisit the property when trying to decide, for example, will a wash light do the job, or will a mini wash fixture suffice.

Taking additional photos before an installation might concentrate on areas where the construction is to take place. Or, where there might be some pre-existing damage to either a structure or a plant. These photos may be useful after the fact in determining if damage was pre-existing or caused by the installation crew.

thumbnails of imagesAfter: Have a professional photographer, or yourself if you are skilled enough, to take photos of the installation in the evening. (A professional photographer will know when the best lighting conditions will be.)  These photos can then be used for promotional work in the future. (It might be a good idea to get permission from the homeowner, or business, to use the photos in promotional work before using them.)  One might also make a photo available to the homeowner, as a thank you for their business.

thumbnails of imagesAs Built Map see Figure 8
Having an “as built” map or drawing will be useful. It will be useful for future service work if someone other than the installation person services the work. The map/drawing should show the location of the transformer, the wires running from it, the hubs, and the location of the fixtures.   

The map, or drawing, can be done using available software, or by hand. If done by hand, it should be drawn to scale as much as possible. Colour coding the different items is useful, again for future reference.
Filing: Put all the above information into a file for that person, either in physical form or in digital form, so it is available and accessible for everyone to use.


  • Communicate with your customer effectively to schedule the date of installation.
  • Arrive on time with all the necessary products, tools and plans to efficiently install the lighting system.
  • Clearly identify the roles of your crew and create accountability for what each member is responsible for.
  • Use conduit to protect wires in places they could easily be damaged or are visible, like coming out of the transformer.
  • Leave extra wire at connections and fixtures in case needed in the future.
    • Secure the wire tightly and neatly while keeping it out of sight.
    • Make sure to leave extra wire for all hardscape fixtures.
  • Take your time with wire connections, make sure they are done right.
    • One bad wire connection will cost you more time than rushing it.
  • Use high quality wire connectors.
    • Again, one bad wire connection will cost more than using improper wire connectors.
  • If there are multiple wire runs, use colour-coded electrical tape or zip-ties at wire connections to identify which wire run you are working on.
  • Create an As-Built of your install when complete.
    • Keep it in a safe place.
    • Hard copy in your organized filing system.
    • Perhaps in a cloud based platform for easy team viewing in the future.
    • Perhaps give a copy of it to the homeowner.
  • Take care to restore the site back to as close to original condition as possible.
  • Visit the property at night to ensure all fixtures are aimed as intended.
  • Take time to show the customer how the control system works (overview of schedule, how to adjust the schedule and how to operate manually).
  • Ask the happy customer to leave an online review to help grow your SEO efforts finding more customers.
  • Ask the happy customer if you could leave a yard sign on the site promoting your business for a week or two.
  • Follow up with your customer after a few weeks to ensure it is meeting their expectations.
    • This follow up may spark an interest to expand the system.


  • Communication is key – before, during and after.
  • Have a design/ plan and share between involved contractors and property owners.
  • Know who you are ultimately answering to – property owner or contractor.
  • Discuss up-front post-install service. Who is the point of contact after the install for any
  • warranty or maintenance services.
  • Provide as-built drawings after install is completed.
  • Pre-install infrastructure:
    • Conduit – proper size, marked, extra for future expansion if required.
    • Pre-wiring in conduit, under decks/ in framing, in walls.
    • Installation of coping lights in walls – install by masons/ landscape contractor possibly.
    • New electrical requirements – new receptacle(s).
  • Include Terms and Conditions
  • If you do not have a formal attachment to your contract, consider writing in the following - Consult a lawyer!
    • Terms - who will be invoiced
    • Set out your payment increments - deposit , any progress payments and what they will be based on - prep work / end of season / substantial completion of areas / monthly / final inspections
    • Invoice the party with whom you have a contract - you should be paid for your work even if the party is not paid for their scope of work
  • Make sure your WSIB documents are all in order
  • Be aware of any liability insurance requirements under the global contract
  • What is the mechanism for dealing with and invoicing extras
  • Does the sub contract include any deadlines - what happens if they are not met - always best to clarify before accepting the contract
  • Permits - establish who is responsible
  • Site conditions - who is responsible for call before you dig / one call
  • Site requirements - clarify - can you store materials, will there be disposal on site you can use, are there any health and safety requirements - masks when entering buildings


(Section to follow)
View/Dowload figures 1-8