How Moonlighting Transformed A Charleston Rooftop Garden
During a recent lighting consultation, we found ourselves atop an amazing Charleston rooftop garden surrounded by some of the most spectacular views of the Holy City. The decking is composed of decorative ipe wooden tiles. Both sides of the garden are flanked by natural native grasses, currently in bloom. While an array of planters filled with seasonal color are spread throughout the garden. This rooftop also bodes a seating area that was in dire need of a focal point. It’s the perfect location to take in the Charleston sunset with a beverage in hand. All it needed was a touch of Moonlighting landscape lighting.
Site Photos Taken During Design Phase
Here lies the challenge. How do you tastefully introduce light into a bed full of grasses? How do you create a focal point in a seating area full of negative space? With limited space, how can we make an impact without overpowering the garden and still allow the Charleston skyline to be star of the show?
The illumination of grasses is not an easy task. We chose to introduce a small bollard, with modern flare to match the theme of the garden and desired style of the homeowners. We methodically placed them behind the taller grasses which helped create a glow and softly blanket the planting beds with a low layer of light. The placement of these bollards created natural definition of the space and a sense of depth. All the while, keeping the light levels low here still allows the eye to enjoy the unobstructed views.
Custom Illumination of Native Grasses
As for the seating area, it was quite literally a blank canvas. A blank wall served as the backdrop behind the outdoor furniture. The wall needed a focal point. We introduced a decorative screen with a custom pattern that was a perfect marriage for the space. We would essentially frame this screen and illuminate it from the inside and allow it to serve as a piece of art and a new focal point for the space for both daytime and evening enjoyment.
Fabrication and Illumination Of Custom Decorative Panel
Listed as a National Historic Landmark, the visitors center opened to the public in 1991 and has been a hub for Charleston tourism ever since. Along with a full scale renovation of the building, the landscape also received the same treatment led by Charleston landscape architect Glen Gardner.
Moonlighting was tasked with creating a landscape lighting design that would accentuate the key features of the landscape. The new landscape consisted of the introduction of new palm trees, camellias, etc. A key part of our landscape lighting design was safely illuminating the stairs to allow for a safe entry/exit for visitors of the center.
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We’re excited to share our latest featured project with you! The focus of our latest design is an elaborate three-tiered water feature nestled quietly in a Kiawah Island Zen garden.
The project began with a design consultation. We discussed the overall scope of the project and what the client was looking to achieve through the landscape lighting. Curb appeal, aesthetic enhancements of the landscape and circulation lighting along the driveway were key needs. As we continued to walk the property and make our way to the backyard, we were welcomed to the backdrop of a beautiful Kiawah Island marsh view. What we stumbled upon next was a complete surprise! Hidden away on the side of the property is a stunning zen garden anchored by an elaborate water feature unlike any we’ve seen in the Charleston area. This was a welcomed site and a design challenge that we were excited to take on. The lowcountry typically doesn’t lend itself for set-up like this. The elevation changes in the space that allowed the water feature to flow through it make it feel as if it was formed there naturally. The client expressed their desire to be able to use the space in the evening hours. We were granted total creative freedom and we couldn’t wait to get started!
After the design was in officially in place, we were ready to hit the ground running. We took careful consideration in specifying the proper fixtures and lamps to appropriately capture the overall scene.
Several fixtures were installed in and within the feature itself, while we were also able to utilize the trees within space to illuminate the feature from above. Creating a usable space that allowed the clients to safely walk through and relax in after the sun goes down was a priority that we were able to accomplish. With cooler temperatures on the horizon, there’s no better time to enjoy your outdoor living spaces! The gravel pathway was softly lit from above, creating a naturally “moonlit” effect. It was important to also to feature the landscape by highlighting some of the key palm trees, japanese maples and bamboo clusters for a successful and comprehensive lighting scheme.
Take a few moments to scroll through the photos below of the final product and let us know what you think in the comments!
For the second time, Moonlighting has helped in the revitalization of a familiar downtown Charleston garden. This King Street property is one we’ve become very familiar with over the years as we were part of the design team that first overhauled this space in 2010. Almost a decade later, we were fortunate enough to team back up with Wertimer and Cline for another pass at this re-imagined garden.
Not only did we design and install this project originally, we have also maintained it on a regular basis from the day it was installed. A major benefit of regular maintenance on this project was the opportunity to repurpose many of the existing fixtures. Regular maintenance encourages a longer lifespan for the fixtures, which in-turn was a big cost saver for the client. If you feel that your landscape lighting system could benefit from a service contract and to learn more about what is involved with regular maintenance, contact our office today for a free consultation!
During this renovation, we worked closely with the talented team at Ables Landscapes, who was tasked the landscape installation and hardscape additions. The original landscape had matured quite a bit, so we responded to not only the new plant material that was introduced but also the existing plant material to ensure that the landscape in its entirety was being illuminated in the most effective ways possible.
There were several mature crape myrtles that we approached by both up lighting and down lighting, which provided for some great textures below on the lower lying fatsia. There are also four custom arbor structures on site that we added a mini LED fixture with a low level output to softly illuminate the walk through. Another feature that really became a dramatic focal point was the statue we lit inside the fountain. The statue lit nicely and the backdrop of crape myrtles and fig ivy covered walls made a for a beautiful scene, and one that can be appreciated from many angles within the garden and inside the home.
Check out the gallery below for more photos of this project and be sure to follow us on your favorite social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Houzz for our weekly updates!