Owning a property with water frontage is a dream come true. Whether you like to relax to the sound of lapping waves or prefer to hop in a canoe and shove off for adventure, it starts where the water meets the land.
But as majestic as water frontage is, it can also be dangerous. Regardless if you have a sandy beach, pier, dock, or boat launch, it needs to be well-lit to prevent accidents.
The good news is, a little lighting goes a long way toward improving the safety of waterfront property. A series of dock lights or an overhead floodlight is all it takes to illuminate the path to safety when there’s water involved.
Here’s a look at why lighting your waterfront is such a good idea and how to do it without disrupting the ambiance you love so much.
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Three Important Reasons to Light Your Waterfront
The core purpose of waterfront illumination is to cast a little light on the unknown. The stars and the moon are nature’s only nightlights, and they’re not enough to help you get your bearings.
Between grass, trees, sand, stones, water, and any structures on your property, everyone benefits from a little bit of light to help them get around on uncertain terrain.
- All it takes is one slip off the pier or a wrong step on a wet rock to send you tumbling into the water. In the darkness, swimming without your bearings is a dangerous (sometimes deadly) situation.
A little lighting is all it takes to illuminate the path back to safety—a dock ladder, the shoreline, shallower water, etc.
- Coming in from a long day of fishing or fun on the water? If you fall behind the sunset, dock and pier lighting is the best way to make sure you get yourself back ashore safely. The last thing you want is to run your boat aground or crunch the hull in shallow waters.
- It can be hard to distinguish where your property ends and someone else’s begins at the waterfront. Lighting is a simple, subtle way to mark territory.
It lets someone know they’re coming to the end of the property line. Lighting also lets people know where the line between land and water is, so they don’t wander in!
Don’t forget—these are just practical reasons to light your property. There is also an abundance of aesthetic reasons, too! Careful lighting around docks and piers can create a great ambiance for those who like to relax by the water after dark.
Floodlighting can also illuminate large swaths of frontage, to make after dark cookouts or conversation more inviting.
How to Light Water Frontage (The Right Way)
The key to waterfront lighting is to be subtle. Sure, you can blast a couple of high-lumen spotlights at the water and call it a day… but it’ll come off looking like an affront to nature! Instead, think dimmer lights and more of them, spaced accordingly.
It also depends on what you’re lighting. Docks, piers, and manmade structures are easier to light because they offer infrastructure. F
or example, if you have a 12-foot dock you might install gentle guidepost lighting every four feet on each side.
You can achieve uniform appeal on both sides of the dock this way.
Lighting a small, sandy beach might take a little more ingenuity. Pole lighting and guidepost lighting are great options that can be arrayed casually along the waterfront or to frame it.
Best of all, these types of light emit 360-degree illumination, lighting both the shore and the water.
Make sure you’re choosing lights that are waterproof—remember that tides go up and down, and these are outdoor lights that’ll need to weather the elements.
If your lights are underwater, such as under a dock or at high tide, make sure they’re bright enough to cast the illumination you need.
Finally, make sure your lights are rated and designed for the rigors of waterfront lighting. Quality isn’t something to compromise on!
Light Your Waterfront With Intent
Waterfront lighting can be a beautiful addition to your property—one that also improves safety, convenience, and security. No matter what your frontage looks like or how you choose to light it, make sure to always light with intent.
You’re not only trying to brighten up your property—you’re trying to preserve the beautiful, dynamic appeal of your waterfront. Well-placed, properly-gauged lighting can do that!
The next time you’re sitting, looking out at the water, take a quick inventory of your frontage. Identify areas where a simple light might make a big difference, or call out a professional to help you pinpoint areas where a little illumination can enhance your waterfront property’s appeal and safety.