Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Outdoor Week: Skater Park Sound and Light

New Jersey firm deploys outdoor lighting and audio that accommodates parents who want to relax and children who need to train.

Outdoor Week 2024 Logo - Draper at Home

Established in 1981 by Mark and Peg Reynolds, Reynolds Landscaping and Garden Shop is a family-run business in Manahawkin, N.J., comprising several different divisions, including residential construction, outdoor landscaping, and a home lighting and audio design and integration group. This latter department services the company’s existing construction clients and works on projects with other custom installers and AV integrators as well.

As part of a whole-home build project on Long Beach Island, N.J., the firm led an outdoor lighting and audio deployment that was executed in several phases, explained Tanek Hood, manager of the lighting and audio division at Reynolds Lighting & Audio Design. In all, Hood and his team installed systems in patios and seating areas, walkways, fence gates, a raised spa deck bridge, the pool, a clubhouse, a two-stall outdoor shower pavilion, the hot tub, and a skate park.

Outdoor Week 2024 – Coastal Source - Case Study - Front of house

“The goal was to have some music for different areas that could be played at different levels,” Hood explains. “[For] the lighting, we were just trying to make it safe for the kids to play on the Astroturf, as well as [provide] downlighting to entertain at night.”

Homeowner Vanessa Carvajal explains that her children and their friends make extensive use of the skate park to train for surfing. Before this deployment, however, they could only use it during the day. “We loved the initial design of lights with zones and scenes that were easy to control, so we had Reynolds Lighting & Audio Design add more Coastal Source fixtures to extend our outdoor options even further. The kids love having more time to practice their skills, and we love simply being able to enjoy our property for longer each day.”

Outdoor Week 2024 – Coastal Source - Case Study - Skate Park

The outdoor lighting system features a combination of Coastal Source downlights and landscape fixtures (including the manufacturer’s MR11 Bullet Lights), RAB floodlights, and Brilliance string lights, all controlled through a Lutron lighting controller. Uplights highlight the home, trees, and landscape features, while downlights mounted into trees provide full coverage of the skate park. Path lights combined with LED tiki torches illuminate the walkways, and deck lights are integrated into the fence gates.

Outdoor Week 2024 – Coastal Source - Case Study - Pool

For outdoor audio, Hood again specified a Coastal Source system, including 10.0 Ellipse Bollard speakers and a pair of 10.0 Bollard subwoofers. Divided into three zones, the system delivers localized volume control to accommodate for occasions when residents and guests occupy different parts of the yard. The shower pavilion features a physical on/off switch as well as the two Coastal Source subwoofers that deliver bass throughout the yard. Lutron and Sonos wireless systems enable mobile device control for both the lighting and audio systems.

Change Happens

These equipment choices, Hood says, address the need for unobtrusive technology that doesn’t compromise the property’s aesthetic and withstands the elements. On Long Beach Island, houses are exposed to salty ocean air; hot, humid summers; rain; and winter snow, which can put lighting and audio electronics to the test.

He relays that, in his experience, Coastal Source products have emerged damage-free after a customer’s yard was flooded with saltwater. Additionally, he favors the riser and wiring systems the company offers, facilitating the adjustment of ground light fixtures depending on the season, or if a new landscape feature is introduced into the environment.

Outdoor Week 2024 – Coastal Source - Case Study - Pool house

“You don’t want a lighting system that is fixed or stuck as the property changes,” Hood says. “The plants grow fast, and people change their space.”

It’s also important to anticipate these changes. To achieve this, Hood says he tries to build strong relationships with his clients to learn about their living habits. How many children do they have? How old are they? What are they into? How much time do the residents spend — or wish to spend — in the yard at night? These questions, he says, help him to gain the insight he needs to design the right system.

Outdoor Week 2024 – Coastal Source - Case Study - Fence

“Lighting and audio are so intimate,” Hood says. “You’re creating a soundtrack for their life during the day, and it has to work seamlessly. Lighting gives them the ability to spend more time with their families [outside at night]. A lot of these dads work in the city, and then they’re driving three hours [on Friday] to spend time with their family. Often, they get to the house and it’s dark. If the lighting is done well, [they can still enjoy that time in the yard with their loved ones].” He adds that, for the skate park house, the children were just entering adolescence when the project began. “We tried to anticipate where the children will be in five years, as they seem to be using the space more than the parents do.”

Picture Perfect

Hood — who has been growing Reynolds’ Lighting & Audio Division over the last 20 years — came to lighting design through photography. He relays that he got his first camera when he was 12, and years later managed an underwater photographer’s studio in addition to working for wedding photographers. “It led to lighting because you’re doing the same thing: you’re playing with shadows,” he says. “I love that aspect of it.”

Outdoor Week 2024 – Coastal Source - Case Study - Landscape

Photography also introduced Hood to Adobe Photoshop. These days, he uses the software in conjunction with Adobe Illustrator for project planning and documentation.

Playing with light and sound, however, isn’t just a game. When deploying these systems outdoors, Hood says one must consider the surrounding homes. “We work on an island, and the lots are closer together than I would want,” he describes. Therefore, the speaker and lighting design must account for bleed. “Installing a subwoofer where the loud bass can carry the sound so much more makes it sound better, but it may not be respectful to the neighbors.”

Related: Leaning Into Outdoor Lighting

And it could also compromise the chance of earning more business: “I always look at every client like they are going to lead to two clients next door. Creating audio and lighting that can be zoned, turned off, or reduced in brightness is always helpful to preserve a neighborhood.”

Carolyn Heinze is a freelance writer/editor.