DIY Landscape Lighting vs. Hiring a Pro in Kansas City: How to Choose  

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    Enjoying your Kansas City backyard is a treat.

    Whether you’re dining on your patio, grilling in your gourmet outdoor kitchen, taking a dip in your pool, or finding peace and quiet in your private retreat, your backyard has become more than just a space. It’s an experience you look forward to after long hard days of work or after carpooling the kids to their various activities.

    Though summer days are longer than winter ones, sometimes that sunset still strikes sooner than you’d like. No one wants the sun to set on their good times or relaxing moments. And when the sun does go down and that weather cools, you want to be able to enjoy that time outdoors.  

    Enter landscape lighting. A little extra illumination can do wonders for extending your usable hours outside and adding a little extra ambiance and shine to your evening entertaining.

    As you’re exploring your options for lighting up your yard, you might come across DIY landscape lighting ideas. Pinterest and YouTube certainly make the idea of setting up a few solar lights seem easy and affordable. But you’re probably also seeing proposals for hiring a professional landscape lighting company, and are wondering about the cost and quality differences. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of these two options.

    Pros & Cons of DIY Landscape Lighting Vs. Hiring a Pro  

    When you imagine the perfect outdoor lighting in your Kansas City landscape, you’re envisioning your outdoor kitchen, patio, pathways, and pool to slowly come to life as the sun disappears behind the horizon line.

    The picture in your mind is a sparkling and brilliant one that offers just the right amount of light to bring some drama and elegance to your yard.

    What you certainly don’t dream of are lights that work for a month and then fade or fizzle out on you, making the cost, time, and effort worthless as a result.

    Fixture Quality Gives Lighting Long-term Life  

    First, let’s talk about landscape lighting fixture quality differences.

    Hardware stores have such a large variety of cheap options that seem pretty attractive at the outset, which can make DIY landscape lighting seem like an attractive option. Solar lights, for instance, sound like a great idea, but there are drawbacks to some of these choices. With solar lighting, you need lots of direct sunlight for the fixtures to work effectively. If you have some lights placed in shade or near a shrub or perennial that limits its light, it will bring a dimmer – or possibly nonexistent – shine. And then during the winter months, those lights may be completely off due to an overall lack of sunlight.

    So while these options seem great from the start, you’ll be spending more on ongoing upkeep or replacement costs. You might find yourself constantly tweaking with fixtures to try and get them working again. What fun is that?

    With professional landscape lighting, you get commercial-grade, high-quality products that last longer. They become options that are installed and then do their jobs without you having to worry much about them at all. Your initial investment stretches further. Instead of tinkering with fixtures or saving more money for repairs, you can focus on your entertainment or relaxation plans and just enjoy the light.


    Design Knowledge Makes Landscape Lighting Gleam  

    Landscape lighting isn’t something you can just stick in the ground and turn on and expect amazing illumination results.

    To get the best lighting that provides layers of interest and depth, as well as security takes a lot of design knowledge.

    Considering DIY landscape lighting vs. hiring a pro, we come across quite a few design mistakes that tend to happen through the DIY route. Overlighting is a big one, where the installer thought more lights would be better than just a few properly placed and angled ones. Another big one is poor aiming where lights are blinding neighbors or those inside the home. The runway effect is another one we see along pathways where the lighting path resembles that of an airplane landing strip versus that of a well-illuminated walkway.

    Another big design mistake that tends to come up that impacts security and safety is the creation of bright and dark spots, otherwise known as “hot” and “cold” spots. There’s a balance that results in a quality lighting design that integrates all of the necessary features into one cohesive system.

    A professional landscape lighting design focuses on adequate brightness and balance of light, as well as incorporating a mix of different types of fixtures based on the area so that the proper amount of light glamorizes and harmonizes each space. Another important aspect of a professional design is that the actual fixtures aren’t always the thing you’re looking at; rather, your eye focuses on the light. And that’s the ultimate goal. When you’re walking up your deck stairs, you want to see where your feet are going and not be staring at a fixture or blinded by the light it emits while you’re moving.

    Electrical Knowledge Ensures Long-Term Landscape Lighting Success  

    Wiring is a crucial part of a working and reliable landscape lighting system. When you purchase a DIY landscape lighting box of lights, does the lighting look limited or do the wires look short?

    Wiring properly and precisely is a key part of outdoor lighting. What’s more is that the further away your light fixtures are from your transformer, the less likely they will have the necessary voltage to work well. That’s what leads to dim or burned out bulbs. Having a knowledge of electrical work is a key part of getting a well-done lighting job. And this is especially important outdoors where you have the added impacts that can come from temperature shifts, varying levels of humidity, and potential animal damage.

    That’s where DIY landscape lighting can get into trouble. Professional landscape lighting puts a trained professional in charge of the performance and reliability of your landscape lighting system. This means higher quality wiring to adequately give life to your lighting schemes so you can achieve warmth and brightness that is customized to your personal preference. The end result also comes with better warranties, so you’re ensured a high-quality, long-lasting system.

    Cost Differences Between DIY and Professional Landscaping Lighting  

    A big benefit of DIY landscape lighting is certainly the cost. These systems can range anywhere from $200 to $4,000. But these lights aren’t known to last, so that low initial investment might need to be doubled or tripled in a short amount of time to continue replacing the lights to get the look you’re after.

    With professional landscape lighting, you’re getting much longer life and better light output for that initial cost. A professional-grade system can cost anywhere between $5,000 to $15,000 with larger estates ranging over $20,000 to light. A professional-platinum level lighting system, which is a higher-end brand of light fixtures that are hurricane and car proof will be highly reliable and have the greatest light output, and these will range between $10,000 to $25,000 for a full system. Larger estates will start at $30,000 to light.


    DIY Landscaping Lighting Vs. Hiring a Pro: What’s Your Choice?   

    As you review the considerations between DIY landscape lighting vs. hiring a pro, we hope this information helps you make some decisions. Remember to look at all of the elements involved, including lighting fixture quality, design knowledge, electrical expertise, and cost, as well as system reliability and longevity, when you’re making your choice.

    Unless you have electrical experience on outdoor systems; have spent the time educating yourself on landscape lighting design, systems, and fixtures; learn lighting effects; and are ready to maintain your lights after installation, then you might be better off choosing the professional landscape lighting option.

    Otherwise, with DIY landscape lighting, you might end up spending more time, energy, and money trying to get a look that may not be possible with home improvement store products, especially one that works well after one season.

    Still confused at what all of your options are for professional landscape lighting in Kansas City? Let High Prairie Outdoors’s experts help. We design and install high-end, custom landscape lighting projects all the time, and can share our expertise and knowledge with you. We can walk through your yard and talk about how you can get the right amount of impact, pizzazz, safety, security and aesthetics that make your landscape shine as much at night as it does during the day.

    Ready to see how High Prairie Outdoors can enhance your entire landscape and home estate with professional landscape lighting?  We’d love to share our design and installation expertise with you and deliver an elevated outdoor experience. Get started today with a free consultation. Together, we can create a solution that works best for you.

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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