Outdoor Lighting

In this blog post we discuss outdoor lighting. Read on for our tips and advice

Our guide to outdoor lighting

If you have a kitchen extension or conservatory at the back of a property, the garden will be in full sight, and it makes sense to light it beautifully so you can enjoy the view day and night...

Outdoor lighting is most effective when it highlights something sculpturally. You see many gardens with a string of freestanding bollard lights plonked along pathways. Resist the temptation - it always looks like a woodland trail gone wrong. Instead, think of using focus lighting to pick out a dramatic tree, plant or water feature. Try it out first by clipping strong, battery-powered torches above and below your chosen spots. See how it looks from inside the house, with the lights on. Backlighting - where you throw a light behind a shape - makes the outline glow, while uplighting throws the shape into dramatic relief. Don't choose to highlight too many areas as it will look cluttered. Moonlighting - where a low-wattage light is set in a tree to cast pools of light and shadow below - is extremely effective above a patio or seating area. You feel as if you are sitting in moonlight itself.

Although some areas such as steps or water features should be lit for safety reasons, if people are using the garden at night, it's a mistake to flood the whole area with light. It tends to end up looking like a pub garden. You want patios and terraces where you eat and relax to have subtle washes of light, not glaring beams. Again, lovely lighting is invisible lighting, so hide the bulbs and source of the light and aim for a diffuse glow. Submersible white lights can be put into ponds and pools. Fibre-optic lighting is extremely useful in a garden setting (see Resources). It can be sunk into patios or pathways to give a starry effect, or you can use it around pools, ponds and waterfalls to bounce coloured light off the surface of the water, to give an effect almost like fireworks.

It's dangerous to run garden lights from an internal electricity source. Instead, invest in an outdoor power socket. You can run safe, low-voltage spotlight kits off it, with a cable which you can bury, so can position the lights where you like.