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Helping Create a Natural Moon Light: An Interview with Matt Carli of Moonlighting Landscape Lighting Systems

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We are a design/build firm based out of Charleston, SC specializing in low voltage, line voltage and LED outdoor lighting. The company was founded by President, Mike Rollins in 1992. Vice President Doug Wickenhoefer came aboard in 1997. We offer services of design, installation, consultation and maintenance. The majority of our clientele is local here in the Charleston area, but we have part of projects down in the Bahamas and the Caribbean all the way up to Maine and many other locations on the east coast.

How did you get into this line of work?

I came to Moonlighting three years ago after serving as an operations manager/account manager for a large landscape company in Beaufort, S.C. Growing up, I always worked in the landscape industry during summers and after school. I learned more and more about the industry through the years but never really knew a whole lot about outdoor lighting. After deciding to re-locate to Charleston, I was introduced to Mike and Doug and everything that Moonlighting offered. I was completely blown away by what the company offered and the creativity that was involved with it. I was hired as designer/project manager and it's been an amazing three year journey so far. I also handle the social media and marketing for Moonlighting.

You offer an enormous amount of outdoor lighting- would you pick any out as your specialties?

We'd like to that the "moon lighting" technique could be considered one of our specialties, hence the name of the company. Moonlighting is the technique of mounting a fixture high up in the trees and shining down through the foliage to create a natural "moon light' effect. We like to think that after 20 years, we've done a nice job of mastering other effects such as up lighting, path lighting, wall washing and fountain lighting. Every landscape is different, so it all depends on which techniques will best suit the design.

What should quality landscaping do for your yard/house?

A quality landscape can add a lot in terms of curb appeal, property value, functionality and overall comfort. It's important that you do research and determine what plant material will survive in your area so that your landscape will flourish. Another good tip would be to "keep up with the Jones's" see what your neighbors are doing and see what plant material is working in their yard. If budget allows, enlist in the services of a quality landscape architect to help on the project. A professional opinion is usually the safest route to go in terms of creating a dream landscape. In terms of landscape lighting, it can help accentuate that landscape and serve many purposes ranging from aesthetics to circulation and security. A lot of people learn that after the addition of landscape lighting, they end up enjoying their landscape more at night. Scenes can be created throughout the landscape making for the perfect environment to enjoy a cocktail or some company.

How often should the average homeowner have their landscape lighting maintenanced?

We offer a variety services ranging from quarterly, to bi-yearly, to yearly or even monthly maintenance plans for commercial sites. It's important to properly maintain your outdoor lighting as landscapes grow and systems age. It's essential that fixtures stay properly aimed so that the specific effects and original intentions of the lighting remain intact. It's also important to make sure that fixtures are cleaned properly so that dirt, and debris don't build up and pests are kept out of fixtures. Pruning around fixtures is also important so that vegetation does not take away from the lighting.

What should homeowners be looking for in a good outdoor lighting company?

A quality outdoor lighting company is a company that will find every way to make your landscape lighting unique and personalized. The design process is a key component so that the designer understands exactly what it is that you're looking to achieve through lighting. Other highly important factors are companies that use quality material. Material that isn't going to corrode or break down on you, or lamps that are designed to last so that you aren't having to replace a bulb every month. Installation of the system is important because if it's not properly installed or wiring is not properly rated, those projects tend to be very troublesome. A quality installation should warrant at least 10 plus years out of a lighting system.

I notice you explained all the benefits to utilizing outdoor lighting on your site. For those that have not visited your site, what are some of the true benefits behind your work?

We install with "little feet" - We honor the beauty of your landscape and respect your plantings and structures by carefully weaving our way through established perennials as well as around existing hardscape. We look up as well as down when determining the best placement of our lighting fixtures. When we determine something to be "light worthy," we focus on creating the most natural balance between light and dark to enhance the subject while hiding the process. Our philosophy has always been to leave the garden better than how we found it. We leave your setting cleaner than when we came in.

What are your favorite projects to work on?

My favorite projects are the projects in which a homeowner is excited to see you at their door and excited to see you exercise creativity in their landscape. We're usually hired for that reason and it's a great privilege to earn that exclusive trust to design a system in which they call their family and friends over to share in the excitement.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

They can visit our website or Facebook page as well as our Twitter and Houzz profiles. Our office is located in Charleston and we can be reached at 843-853-3221.

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