Do-it-yourself hints for putting some sparkle in your own backyard

Lighting up the landscape can be for amateurs, too. It doesn't take a bundle of money to bathe an old apple tree with soft light, spotlight a statue, light a path through the garden, or illuminate a granite cliff that rises above the flower beds and evergreens. This outdoor trend has caught the interest of numerous people during the last quarter century, encouraging not only the skillful approach of John Watson and other professionals, but also successful attempts by gardeners and homemakers.

``Think of the work and money we put into our gardens and how little time during the day most of us have to look at them,'' says Watson. ``Or, with winter coming on, think of the excitement of looking out on falling snow or white-clad garden scenes outside our windows. Why not light our outdoor scenes in all seasons and enjoy their beauty at night when we can enjoy them at our leisure?''

Here is Watson's simple formula for the do-it-your-selfer, based on his own years of experience:

Look at the overall composition of what you want to light, whether it be a rose garden, flower garden, a pool, a manicured lawn, or a beautiful tree trunk. Then decide how to strengthen the assets with light and leave the weaknesses in shadow.

Having made your aesthetic decisions, go to an electrical supply store that sells lighting equipment and select the pieces that will do the job. Buy low-voltage lights to conserve energy. Low-voltage lights are safe for the average person to use, but they do require an outside plug. An electrician should carry a 120-volt line into the garden, complete with weatherproof duplex outlet. Instead of incandescent lighting, consider the energy efficiency of gas discharge lamps.

Several manufacturers offer aids to persons eager to do some outside lighting.

Kim Lighting, one of the country's largest makers of lighting equipment, offers a free brochure called ``Landscape Lighting,'' available from Kim Sales Department, PO Box 1275, City of Industry, Calif. 91749. Inquirers are also given the names of local electrical distributors who handle Kim equipment and can offer advice.

The Ortho Chemical Company (maker of garden fertilizers) has made available a well-illustrated paperback book called ``How to Design and Install Outdoor Lighting,'' by William H. W. Wilson. The $5.95 book is available at many bookstores, hardware, and home improvement stores, or can be ordered by mail for $5.95 (plus $1 postage) from Ortho Information Services, 575 Market Street, Room 3188, San Francisco, Calif. 94105.

A Sunset Publishing Company book called ``Home Lighting'' devotes four pages to garden lighting. The General Electric Institute at Nela Park, Cleveland, Ohio, offers an annual ``Outdoor Lighting Workshop''; the next one will be Oct. 8-10, 1986.

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