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Solar Solutions: Easy, Eco-Friendly Outdoor Lighting Ideas
By Elise White
8/27/2014 10:51:00 AM

Looking for the right lighting for your landscape? Solar lights offer many advantages over other types of outdoor lights. Solar lighting requires no wiring or cords, which means installation is quick and easy. Plus, solar lights are an eco-friendly, energy-saving option because they capture the sun’s energy by day to brighten your home’s exterior at night. Here are some great ideas for adding beauty and security to your home with minimal effort!


A Fairy Solution


Here at Plow & Hearth, we’re big fans of glittering fairies and woodland folk! Their resin wings and miniature homes fill our virtual shop and catalog pages. What’s the most flutter-ful thing about them, you ask?


The magical ability to light their way through our gardens, of course!


Luminescent fairy wings in flight make such a beautiful sight that we’re inspired to mimic their magic with string lights and hanging ornaments.


Have you been searching for the radiant romance of hanging lights and lanterns at dawn or the airy atmosphere of a faintly lit garden, fit for fairies? Or perhaps you’re seeking the security of a bright walkway, ensuring no late night homecoming goes unlit? These solar solutions have it covered, with or without the aid of wing-ed friends!


Harnessing Sunlight: What’s inside?


No access to shimmering stardust? No worries, the mechanics are fairly simple. Leave your lights to bathe in sunny rays during the daytime and the solar panels, found on the crown or side of your model, will store up energy. Your lights will ignite as sunlight fades and last for about four hours at a time. 


While solar lights seem to work like magic, the actual chemistry is equally compelling. Each light contains either nickel cadmium (NiCD) or nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries wired to solar cells that convert sunlight directly into energy. In many cases, this energy powers an efficient light-emitting diode, or LED bulb. Leave them outside all year long!


Enchanting fairy lights, path lights, or lanterns are must-haves for any outdoor celestial haven. But don’t limit yourself to hardwired systems for landscape lighting in the process of creating the magic! There are so many eco-friendly and efficient solar lighting options to try.


Wireless and convenient, decorative solar garden lighting makes the perfect light and design solution to any outdoor entertainment or dining dilemma.


Shine Bright Like A Fairy


Brighter isn’t always better! Compared to conventional models, solar landscape lighting emits a softer ethereal glow to sustain light longer into the evening. The blaze won’t match that of traditional low-voltage lights, but these handy units conserve energy, light, and of course, your bill.


Long-lasting LED lights are the most common landscape light bulb, emitting a muted shine sufficient for solar security lighting along steps and pathways. Halogen or florescent solar lights burn brighter, but won’t last as long.


Like all of nature’s wonders, these lights are at the mercy of the sun. On winter or overcast days, cells will generate less power for the batteries to store. Nevertheless, on bright days that fade into clear dreamy nights perfect for entertaining, your solar lights will power through with abiding elfin spirit!


The Brilliant Benefits


Minimal maintenance and lack of a light switch are huge advantages to having solar outdoor entertaining lighting and security bulbs. Regularly wipe down the panels with a barely damp cloth and you’re set. The battery only needs to be replaced every two years!


Photo sensors and motion sensors maintain the magic, allowing you to watch your lights turn on from afar or catch the occasional nymph tiptoeing by. But if you’d rather dispel the magic for a while, some models come with a manual switch.


Subtly designed installations are one of many recent design advances in the solar landscape world. These days, you can place solar lights along in-ground walkways, float them in pools, or place them inside for decorative accents. Weatherproof technology even allows you to mount panels outside to give your shed, closet, or barn some fairy rustic mood lighting!


Twinkle to your heart’s content!


From the twinkling glow of rustic string lights and hanging orbs to the firefly effect of fairy lights in mason jars and color changing mobiles, solar lights bring unexpected brilliance your yard! Even classically designed practical and security lighting provide a serene ambience to skirt your pathways.


Borrow a little solar stardust to sprinkle above the garden and along the courtyard. You may just mesmerize even your enchanted woodland friends!

Shop our entire Solar Lighting collection!

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The Olla: A Brief History

Olla (Spanish, pronounced “oh-ya”) jars have been around since ancient times. Made of unglazed ceramic, ollas traditionally have short, narrow necks with wider bodies, and are made in a variety of shapes. They have been used for thousands of years for cooking, storage, and plant irrigation.

When used to irrigate plants, an olla is buried neck-deep in the ground near a plant’s roots, with the opening of the olla extended above the soil so that it can be filled with water periodically. The porous walls of the unglazed pottery allow the water to seep through gradually, constantly and consistently hydrating the plants without overwatering them – and without wasting precious water to evaporation or runoff.

The use of ollas for irrigation was introduced to the American Southwest by Spanish conquistadors during Colonial times, becoming very common among Native American tribes and Hispanic settlers. Though the technique gave way to more modern methods of irrigation some time ago, its superior efficiency, coupled with its simplicity, has caused it to make a comeback. Though the technique has changed little since its introduction, today’s ollas are usually capped off, making them even more water-efficient.

Perfect for home gardens, Ollas are a super-easy, eco-friendly, less time-consuming way to water annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables and plants of all kinds in dry, sandy soil, very hot or drought-prone areas, raised beds, and even pots, planters and hanging baskets. Fill the olla before you leave on a short vacation to enjoy worry-free watering – and a smaller water bill!

How it Works:

Water is pulled directly through the terra-cotta!

Read more about Ollas on our blog.

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