Garden design with lighting: enhancing and extending the usability of a garen with great garden lighting
Whether it's to make the most of lovely warm summer evenings, or simply to brighten up a gloomy mid-winter late afternoon, good garden lighting can make so much difference to our gardens. It can create atmosphere and texture, it can make a garden more inviting and interesting, and it can make it safer and more enjoyable to use in the evenings.
Here is our simple three-step guide to starting to plan garden lighting design:
1. What do we want to light?
The first ‘rule’ of designing our garden lighting schemes is to begin by carefully considering what we want to light. Subtlety is usually key. I like to use ‘layers’ of light and atmosphere rather than seeking to illuminate everything. Focus on highlighting key focal points, details or trees, but also consider how we can aid navigation and mark changes of level. Incorporating simple lighting into steps, for example, can look wonderful, and makes them much safer to use.
2. LED vs Solar?
Whilst solar garden lighting is easy and tempting, I have yet to find it provides durability and effectiveness. This is a shame, because lighting our gardens shouldn’t come at a cost to the planet.
LED lights are a very good alternative. Available in a range of options including spike lights (like the tiny stainless steel one pictured below), step lights and bollard lights, they tend to be very energy efficient and have great life expectancy (the leading manufacturers quote 70,000+ hours). My preference is always to use warm white, but colour-changing versions are available. We should only use lights that are specifically designed for outdoor use, and we need to check the IP rating (protection from dust and moisture ingress). Ideally, I like to use IP65 as a minimum.
3. Stay in control
A remote-control system (shown at the bottom of this page) provides a convenient method of switching our lights on and off, but also allows us to choose which lights we have on at different times. We might, for example, only want to light the trees we can see from our kitchen window on a December evening, but have more of our garden illuminated whilst we are enjoying a summer BBQ with friends. A simple remote system will use a hand-held key fob with buttons, but we can also use systems which can be controlled via an app on our phone or via a smart speaker.
SAFETY FIRST: Good garden lighting design needn’t be complicated, but safety should always be our first priority. If in doubt, always consult a qualified electrician, and remember that they will be required if we need new mains cables or sockets in our garden.
Want to learn how we can help you with our garden lighting design service? Take a look at our garden lighting page.