Two years ago, a client came to McKay Lighting in Omaha, Neb., to expand the holiday lighting on his home and find a creative way to hide a newly installed water feature in the front yard during the winter. The company developed a design that included one 14-foot LED RGB cherry blossom tree and two 8-foot RGB trees that are wired together to rotate through the color wheel.
McKay installed the three trees along with 50 24-inch LED starbursts in red, green and blue hanging in the canopy of the trees and wrapping the tree trunks with white LED strands. In the back the company installed the owner’s existing “Merry Christmas” sign on the fence and one 14-foot RGB cherry tree, and hung 50 24-inch LED red, green and blue starbursts in the six blue spruces. “It was a huge success so the next season he was eager to continue making it bigger and more unique,” says Andrew J. Coleman, a McKay outdoor lighting designer. Coleman added another 100 LED 24-inch red, green and blue starbursts to the rest of the front trees and evergreens, and added two red, two green and two blue solid color 8-foot LED cherry blossom trees along his circle drive.
“He has the ability to control his RGB trees by a remote control that lets you change the colors and speed,” Coleman says. “The client wanted a unique display that presented well in the neighborhood, but not over the top.” The weather can be a challenge in Omaha, and Coleman had to make sure there was consistent power for the display that turned on and off every night. “We can’t control the weather, but can minimize our exposure by waterproofing the connections by using longer cords, having fewer plug junctions and a service team ready at all times if there are problems,” he says.
Photo courtesy of McKay Landscape Lighting/Kessler Photography
Elkhorn Lawn Care
This Omaha home, decorated by Elkhorn Lawn Care in Omaha, Neb., has more than 50,000 LED lights. Icicle Linkables line the front and rear of the home along with tree lighting and displays in the front yard. This project is one of a kind with lighting at every angle. “One obstacle we had to solve was the amount of moisture we had this holiday season, which caused tripped breakers,” says Elkhorn owner James Manske. “We solved this problem by making sure all major connections were lifted off the ground and were not sitting in water or by taping up plug-ins that were not being used.”
Photo courtesy of Michael Borman Photography
This is one of my favorite residential jobs,” says Kathleen Neave, Holiday and Event Decorating division manager/owner at Neave Décor, a division of Neave Outdoor Solutions in Greater New York. The core products were from the Christmas Décor franchise system plus some specialty features. The client had been with Neave since 2011, and started with a very simple design, which took about nine man-hours – less than the cost of the company’s average sales amount for décor jobs. By 2012, the client wanted more of a “wow” experience, which led to an animated lighting show.
That involved a lighting set up with music and an animated lighting box, and a lot of separate extension cords to create the lights to turn on and off. “The music can be tuned in on a car radio that we have programmed,” she says. “The client has a sign in front of the home that has the radio station information on it.”
The installation and takedown of this job was up to 26 man hours. In 2013, wreaths were added to all of the windows of the house, and green LED lights were added to the shrubs, taking the job up to 29 man hours. For the 2014-2015 season, the client wanted more, and the company added two 6-foot toy soldiers. “We put spotlights on the soldiers and separated them from the show so that when the lights were going on and off to the music the soldiers would stay lit all the time,” she says. “This job now takes 40 man hours for installation and takedown, and its cost to the client is four times the original small job we did in 2011.”
Photo courtesy of Neave Décor
Due to the large expanse of property on this estate, the holiday lighting display was divided into phases in 2013. As one of Southern Exposure’s largest residential maintenance clients, the Windsor, Colo., company’s objective for phase two of the project was to continue the client’s goal of creating a “whimsical and enchanting” lighting and décor design, says Meghan Simonds, landscape designer.
A few of the highlights of the project included expanding on the tree lighting at the main entrance to the property and at the front of the residence, as well as decorative elements such as nutcracker soldiers and custom decorated greenery at the front door. One of the challenges the company faced with this project installation was the elements, specifically the wind on the Colorado plain. For this phase in 2014, the project took approximately two weeks with a four-man crew.
Photo courtesy of Glass Photography
DiGiovanna Bros Landscaping
DiGiovanna Bros Landscaping in Brightwater N.Y., started working on this client’s first house about 10 years ago, but when the homeowners wanted to build a new 8,000 square foot house three years ago, DBL handled the landscape construction, CEO James DiGiovanna says. The company was able to carry the holiday lighting work over as well. But since the new house was nothing like the old house, DBL started with just holiday lights the first season. But the customer liked the job and asked the company the next season to do their holiday lights “soup to nuts.” Eventually, the client asked the company to decorate the inside of the house as well. The job at the two acre property consisted of 700 bulbs and took about one day with three employees working on it.
Photos courtesy of DiGiovanna Bro