Monday, April 28, 2014

Outdoor Security Lighting: Why It Works & How to Use It

Outdoor security lighting: why it works and how to utilize itOutdoor security lighting can be the difference between a criminal targeting your property or passing it by. Intruders love to focus on properties with dark, low-lit areas where they can not be seen.

“There are an estimated 20,000 burglary crimes in the Charlotte area each year,” said John Minor, owner of Irrigation and Lighting Specialist. “Many of those crimes could have been prevented if outdoor security lighting was present.”

To help protect our community, our experts share how outdoor security lighting can improve your home's security and offer a few tips to ensure your property is safe from intruders.

Security for you – Insecurity for the Intruder

Criminals look to target areas with no lighting. They feel more safe knowing they can’t be seen. Illuminating a potential intruder can make them feel exposed and insecure.

If you are home, you will be able to see the criminal and alert the police. If you are not home, your neighbors or passersby will be more able to see and report suspicious activity. Outdoor security lighting doesn’t guarantee crime prevention, but it does act as a powerful crime deterrent.

Make Your Outdoor Security Lighting Tamper-Proof

A determined intruder may try to damage your light fixtures or bulbs in order to create a dark area to gain access to your property. There are two options for lighting damage prevention:

1. Install the fixture out of reach. 10 feet or over should be sufficient. Most burglars won’t carry ladders, and if they do, they will be spotted very quickly.

2. Buy tamper-proof lights or place mesh wiring over sensitive areas of the light.

Lower Brightness is More Effective

Many medium powered light fixtures are more effective than a few high powered ones. Several medium powered lights provide more even property coverage, which reduces the amount of dark areas. On top of being less aesthetically pleasing, high-powered lights can produce glare and make it difficult to see an intruder in detail.

Motion Detecting Lights
Why outdoor security lighting works and how to use it

Any outdoor security lighting system should have at least one motion detecting light. There may be nothing more alarming for a criminal than to be suddenly illuminated. It gives the illusion that someone is aware of their presence and has turned a light on to see them. It will most likely send them running away from your property.

Motion detecting lights should be placed near any doors, windows or other entryways around your home or business. Intruders may feel too exposed to pick a lock or climb through a window if they are under the light.

“We believe motion detecting lights are the backbone of any good outdoor security lighting system. That’s why we offer so many different options. On top of being a great tool for home security, they’re extremely energy efficient,” said Minor.

Install to Several Circuits – Not Just One

Install different lights to different circuits. If the entire lighting system is run through one circuit, a tripped circuit breaker shuts down every light. If sections of the system are assigned to different circuits, a tripped circuit will only affect one area.

“Sometimes customers envision outdoor security lighting looking bright and ugly. Our installation techniques and careful fixture placement ensure we add a pleasing aesthetic element to your home,” said Minor. “We offer plenty of fixtures that provide both security and style.”

Talk to our outdoor security lighting experts to learn more or to discuss your options. Irrigation and Lighting Specialist looks forward to helping you keep your property safe and secure. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please e-mail John or call 704-747-0235.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Irrigating New Grass Seed: Irrigation Expert Advice

Irrigation and Lighting Expert's advice on irrigating new grass seed.
Irrigating new grass seed can be difficult if you don't have the right knowledge. Many grass planting projects fail for various reasons, but most commonly because of under-watering.

“As irrigation experts, we've seen many homeowners try to grow grass and fail because their lawn wasn't receiving enough water,” said John Minor, owner of Irrigation and Lighting Specialist. "The most important step to establishing a healthy new lawn is practicing proper watering techniques." 

Mid to late spring is the ideal time to plant your warm weather grasses in Charlotte. During the month of April, sunshine and cool temperatures provide great growing conditions for your lawn. But, ensuring it recieves enough water is essential.

To help you grow new grass this spring, we've put together a few watering tips to ensure your lawn is green and full! 

Know Which Grasses Thrive in Charlotte’s Climate.

Most lawns in the area consist of Fescue grasses. Fescue is easy to maintain, but as a cool weather grass, it turns brown in the heat of summer. Bermuda grass can thrive in Charlotte, but requires proper watering. Instead of a dull brown, Bermuda grass turns an attractive shade of green during the hot summer months.

Establishing Bermuda grass can be more difficult, but the rewards are much higher than using Fescue. Since watering will need to be so closely monitored, we recommend using a quality irrigation system. An irrigation system ensures water is distributed evenly. 

Warm-season grasses thrive when planted in late spring. The weather is warm, but not so hot it damages the plant. When the heat of summer comes, your grass will already be established and healthy enough to feed off of the intense sunlight.

Use Fine Textured Organic Matter to Hold Moisture.

Ensure the ground and soil are as even as possible before spreading the seed. Once the seed is spread evenly, top-dress the seed. Top-dressing with textured organic matter like peat moss helps maintain a healthy layer of moisture above the seeds.

We recommend using a peat spreader or cage roller for this process. Apply a very thin layer of peat moss (1/8in. – 1/4in.) over the entire area. Be sure not to exceed this moss thickness as it will inhibit the grass’ growth. Try to complete this process on a calm-winded day. High wind speeds will blow the material out of place and create an uneven surface.

The Most Important Step for Irrigating New Grass Seed: Water Properly!

Irrigation across Charlotte can be tricky because of our area's uneven and sloping landscapes. This can lead to over-watering of some areas and under-watering of others. At Irrigation and Lighting Specialist, we know this. That is why we offer irrigation systems with smart controllers. For each watering zone, we factor in the soil type, amount of sun an area receives and the slope of your property. All of our irrigation systems come with a rain sensor to stop watering in the event of rain. This feature is extremely important in safeguarding against over-saturation.
Water the entire area evenly. The first watering will need to wet the soil down at least six to eight inches. Monitor the area closely. If the seed bed is only slightly moist, water again. You may have to water several times throughout the day so that the top inch of the seedbed is moist.

Less watering is required once the seed germinates. When the soil becomes lighter in color, that means it is time for another watering.
Expert advice on irrigating new grass seed from Irrigation and Lighting Specialist.

Fertilize After Germination

Fertilize the grass four to eight weeks after germination. The grass has germinated and is healthy, but it still has a robust appetite. Fertilizing after germination ensures all the hard work you have done has not gone to waste.

“Fertilizing can be a messy hassle. Once again an irrigation system comes in handy. Irrigation and Lighting Specialist offers irrigation systems that automatically apply organic fertilizer in micro-doses,” said Minor.

Charlotte provides us with some of the most beautiful weather in the country. Your lawn can capitalize on the plentiful sunshine and ideal temperatures if you know the proper way to water your new seeds. Talk to the irrigation experts at Irrigation and Lighting Specialist to see how they can assist you with irrigating new grass seed. We look forward to providing you with the service and tools to keep your lawn green all summer long! To learn more or schedule a consultation, email John or call 704-747-0235.

Monday, April 14, 2014

7 Eco-Friendly Lawn Irrigation and Outdoor Lighting Tips

7 tricks for eco-friendly lawn irrigation and outdoor lighting“Before grooming their lawn and installing outdoor lighting systems, our customers are often concerned with higher energy costs and creating a negative environmental impact,” said John Minor, owner of Irrigation and Lighting Specialist. “We wanted to pass along a few simple tricks to help these consumers create a more eco-friendly lawn irrigation and outdoor lighting system.”

Lawn Irrigation
Irrigation systems drastically improve the look and health of your lawn, but can be a waste of water if not performed correctly. The 3 tips below can help make your lawn irrigation system more efficient.

Tip # 1 Only Water Your Lawn & Plants Early In the Morning
It may sound simple, but this tip can go a long way. It allows time for the grass and plants to absorb as much water as they need. Any excess water evaporates throughout the day.

Watering at night can create mold. The excess water will sit overnight and won’t evaporate for another twelve to sixteen hours.

Warning: Do not water in the middle of the day. The heat will evaporate a large amount of the water before the plants have a chance to soak it in. In addition, water droplets act as a prism, magnifying sunlight and can scorch the plant.

Tip # 2 Use Mulch
Placing mulch around plants helps cool roots and retain moisture, making each watering from your lawn irrigation system more effective. The mulch will deter the growth of weeds, eliminating the need for harmful chemicals. As an added benefit, mulch made from natural materials will decompose and enrich the soil.

Tip # 3 Check for Leaks in Your Irrigation System or Sprinklers
Unnoticed leaks can waste several gallons of water, which often leads to harmful overwatering of the surrounding area. It is important to conduct irrigation system checks  and maintenance to ensure efficiency.

Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor Lighting can add beauty and security to your home. It can also be responsible for a large part of your energy use. Use the following tips to save money on your next electric bill.

Tip # 4 Switch to LED Bulbs
LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs are much more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. “They cost a bit more, but last an estimated 25x longer while consuming significantly less energy,” says Minor.

Floodlights and porch lights are typically the main culprits for using excess energy in most outdoor lighting systems. Once you make the switch to LED bulbs, you should notice an immediate impact.

Tip # 5 Switch to Motion Detecting Lights & Remote Control Systems
Motion detecting lights help improve the security of your home. These security lights are great for saving energy because they usually remain dim or dormant until motion is detected.

Remote operated systems also offer great energy saving and security capabilities. With these systems, it is a good idea to keep the control by your bed. When you go to sleep, you can easily turn off your outdoor lighting. If you hear something in the middle of the night, the lights can be quickly and easily re-activated.

Tip # 6 Install Outdoor Lighting Timers
The functionality of using a timer is nearly the same as using a remote system. It has an added “set it and forget it” benefit, but cannot be turned on as quickly or as easily.

Tip # 7 Explore Solar Powered Lighting
Solar powered lighting uses the energy of the sun. Since sunshine is free, the operating cost is $0. If you have any outdoor buildings such as sheds, workshops or garages, chances are the roof receives quite a bit of sunlight each day. If so, solar lighting solutions are perfect for these areas.

“We know starting energy saving habits and choosing efficient options can often be overwhelming, but we would love to help guide you in the right direction,” said Minor.

Many of these outdoor lighting improvements can be installed on your own. Check out Irrigation and Lighting Specialist’s do it yourself lighting kits. We provide 30 minutes of initial instruction and are available at an hourly rate if additional assistance is needed.

To learn more about eco-friendly lawn irrigation and outdoor lighting options, don’t hesitate to contact Irrigation & Lighting Specialist by e-mailing John or calling 704-747-0235.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

5 Best Outdoor Lighting Fixtures for 2014

2014 is a light year. No, not a space light year, but an outdoor light year. "Across all categories, 98.3 percent of respondents rated lighting as somewhat or very in-demand for 2014,” said John Minor, owner of Irrigation & Lighting Specialist. Minor continues, “followed by seating/dining areas (97.7 percent), fire pits/fireplaces (95.4 percent), grills (94.3 percent) and installed seating (89.6 percent), which include benches, seatwalls, ledges, steps and boulders."

"There are so many outdoor light fixture options in the marketplace, it can be hard to know where to begin," said Minor. Let us help you get started with some ideas. We have identified 5 of our favorite fixtures for the upcoming year.

Neptune Wet Location Wall Light

Outdoor lighting concepts for 2014 from Irrigation and Lighting Specialist in Charlotte, NC.Achieve a more modern look this summer. This contemporary wall fixture will update any outdoor area for 2014 and beyond. Designed for wet environments, this wall mounted light is built to last against anything mother nature has in store. Its rugged durability and streamlined design are perfect for waterfront properties, in-ground swimming pool areas, and patios. [13" Height]

Manufactured By: 
Access Lighting 

Hinkley Lighting Casa Post Outdoor Lantern 

2014 best outdoor lighting fixtures from Irrigation & Lighting Specialist, Charlotte, NC

The curved accents crowning this piece add the right touch of understated elegance. The “olde black” finish in combination with the light amber etched glass are versatile enough to match any outdoor theme. Adding this Hinkley outdoor lantern will provide a perfect nighttime accent to any entrance, path, walkway or patio.

Manufactured By: 
Hinkley Lighting

Ball Rechargeable Light, Pearl with Remote 

Best outdoor light fixtures for 2014 from Irrigation & Leghting Specialist in Charlotte, NC

Give your patio or deck tabletop a memorable look. Enjoy your summer conversations with family and friends even more with this truly unique piece. [10" Diameter]

This waterproof, durable, LED powered light can illuminate your night with traditional white light or your choice of four different colors. 

Manufactured By: 
Smart & Green 

Wikoda Sunflower Helostat

Best landscape lighting of 2014 from Irrigation & Lighting Specialist in Charlotte, NC

Not all outdoor lighting has to be used at night. The Sunflower Helostat
actually tracks the sun throughout the day and redirects it to any area you wish. This is perfect for areas that do not receive much natural light. The sunlight refraction system will go a long way in improving your landscaping efforts in those tricky spots.

Manufactured By:
Wikoda Inc.

High Motion Sensor Outdoor Light

2014 best outdoor lighting trends from Irrigation & Lighting Specialist Charlotte, NC
Combine security with great looks. This outdoor fixture remains lit from dusk until dawn and automatically turns off during daylight hours. The attractive design makes for a great aesthetic addition to any garage or patio with the added security of a two level lighting feature that automatically brightens when motion is detected.

Manufactured By:
Point Grove 

"Any of these lighting fixtures can greatly improve the look and functionality of your outdoor space," Minor said. Let us take care of it for you. We professionally install and maintain these outdoor lighting systems. To learn more or schedule a consultation, please email John or call 704-747-0235.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Don't Be An April Fool: Time For Irrigation Repair

April officially kicks off the spring and summer seasons. With the cold weather behind us, we can finally welcome the sunshine and short sleeves. It also means it is time to get out the lawn mower and start your irrigation system for the first time this year. 

When you turn on your irrigation for the first time, you may discover the system was damaged or is performing improperly since the last time you ran it. These issues can occur from a variety of issues but are usually due to improper winter shut-downs. Regardless of the cause, now is the time to address these issues with an irrigation repair service. 

"Failing to address problems in your irrigation system will only harm you in the long-run," said John Minor, owner of Irrigation and Lighting Specialist. "Putting it off only causes issues when your irrigation system is working during the dog days of summer." 

Common April Adjustments and Irrigation Repairs  

Below are just a few of the irrigation repairs  and adjustments we perform during this time of the year:
  • Broken Equipment - Broken equipment is one of the leading causes of water leakage. If you've noticed leaking water, resulting in runoffs and puddles, you could have a broken sprinkler head, valve or lateral and main line. This type of damage is common after a freezing winter - like the one we just had. 
  • Sunken or Tilted Heads - Sprinkler heads tilt and settle over time due to natural compaction of soil, lawn maintenance and foot traffic. This causes uneven distribution of water resulting in brown spots, runoffs and misting. Attaching a swing joint to the sprinkler head is a great way to fix the issue and prevent it from reoccurring.  
  • Blocked Heads - Water is prevented from going where it needs to go when the spray pattern from a sprinkler head. Blockage is can occur from overgrowth, changes in the landscape or inappropriate placement of sprinkler heads. You may need to relocate your sprinkler head or trim back vegetation. 
  • Lack of Check Valves - If your system is not equipped with check valves, water may drain out of sprinkler heads that are located at lower elevations after they've been cut off. Check values lock water in the lateral line and reduce runoffs and result in quicker start-up times. 
  • Clogged Nozzles - Debris can stick in your nozzles and filters and can cause them to clog. Sand, dirt, roots and plastic are the most common causes of clogs and can create an uneven distribution of water. This creates brown spots. Cleaning or replacing filters can resolve the issue. 
"What seems like a small problem in April can quickly become a bigger problem in May and June. It is best to quickly address these issues with the assistance of a certified irrigation professional. This ensures the repairs are done correctly and your irrigation system is ready to go to work when the real heat moves in," said Minor.

To learn more about our irrigation repair service, or to schedule a free consultation, please contact John with Irrigation and Lighting Specialist at 704-747-0235 or email John. We look forward to helping you address your repairs now so you have enjoy a healthy and beautiful lawn all summer long!