Garden lighting ideas
Great ideas for garden lighting to enhance your property.
Some of the most beautiful garden designs use lighting to highlight a tree, unique landscaping, entry driveway and even the house. And, as a bonus, many of these lights can be used for security. During the day, a well-planned landscape provides an area for play, recreation, and many other activities. At night, lighting is an essential factor in making your landscape functional and livable—jut as it is during daylight hours. Here are some garden lighting ideas that will help you maximize the enjoyment you receive from your garden.
Types of lighting
Designing a creative garden lighting scheme has never been more fun, with such a wide range of different lighting fixtures and products to choose from. Strong spotlights and floodlights can be used for safety and security, or to light up large outdoor entertainment areas.
First and foremost—don't rush out to your nearest lighting or home supply store to purchase whatever appeals to you! Before you begin shopping for fixtures, it's a good idea to think about primarily what you're going to be using the lighting and the outdoor space for. Do you simply want to add lights along steps, paths and walkways for safety and security? Or, do you want to highlight certain areas for a dramatic effect? Or, are there many different uses? Garden accent lighting gives a soft, luminous glow to your garden, and highlights plants, trees and other features. However, if you plan to entertain in the evenings in your garden, on the deck or on the patio, stronger floodlights (which illuminate larger areas) may be the most appropriate choice.
Keep in mind that you should always try to conserve energy when using garden lighting. Aside from saving you money, it will help with the environment. Low voltage mains powered or solar lights give your garden a soft, romantic ambience at night, while natural kerosene, oil or candle lanterns give off a cozy, warm glow. No matter what kind of garden lighting ideas you have in mind, you'll be amazed at the range of accent lights, spotlights, low voltage and solar lights, and oil, kerosene and candle lanterns that are available—either at your local lighting outlet, or do a quick search online to get an idea of the many styles, shapes and colors offered.
Installing your garden lights
Once you have decided what you wanted to use your garden lighting for, the next choice you need to make is the type of light source which will work best. Strong floodlights may require higher voltages, so it's important to consult a qualified electrician to make sure they are installed safely. Low voltage mains powered and solar lights radiate a softer light, and are much easier to install and safer to use (and use less energy).
Cables for low voltage garden lighting fixtures can be buried at a shallow depth, or simply laid under some garden mulch. Naturally, solar lights don't have power cables at all, but you need to place the solar cells in a position where they will be unobtrusive, but effective; remember, they need a good deal of sunlight during the daylight hours to operate efficiently after dark. Oil, kerosene and candle lanterns radiate a very gentle natural flame, and some warmth as well, and can work very well as soft accents around the garden, deck and patio.
Things to consider when gathering your garden lighting ideas
- Determine the areas that need light for safety, such as walkways, slopes, handrails, changing elevations, or any steps. You can use low fixtures which scatter light downwards to light pathways and walkways. Do not over-light the area; make sure to use light that is easy on the eyes. Timers and motion sensors (for added security) are a practical addition, so you'll always have a light on when and where you need it.
- What areas do you want to highlight and focus? A technique in highlighting focal points in the architecture is by using light that shines from below. This technique is called down lighting. Any existing focal points in the landscape or garden, such as fountains or statues, can be made appealing by using a spotlight to frame them.
- Torches, poles or bollards in the landscape add aesthetic appeal while also serving functionality through lighting. Bamboo torches are also a nice touch to light the perimeter of large gardens, but take into consideration fire safety measures.
- For function areas such as patios and gazebos, you may want to use energy-efficient hanging lights. Many homeowners make use of their outdoor landscapes for dinners and other social functions, so proper lighting landscape design for these areas is important. Remember to use soft muted light; hanging lights are great for illuminating the space. Lamps and fixtures are also a good idea for these areas.
- Take into consideration weather changes by selecting weather-proof materials.
- Once you purchase your lighting, a good approach is to simply set up the lights in the positions you think will work best, and switch them on to see how they look before you install them permanently. Ideally, the light should be even and indirect. The fixtures themselves should not be visible, and there should be no harsh glare from strong light bouncing off hard surfaces.