With summer fast-approaching, Sarah Beeny’s Tepilo looks at how homeowners can use lighting to enhance the look and feel of their garden space.
It might not feel like it at the moment, but summer is only a month away. After a dry and bright April, May has been grey and cloudy so far, but people will be hoping for better weather once the season of strawberries, Wimbledon, ice creams, holidays, BBQs, picnics, festivals and seaside getaways kicks into gear.
Of course, the British weather is famously unpredictable and there is never any guarantee that British summertime will actually bring with it much sun. However, warm summer evenings and nights are much more commonplace and, when these come, we like to make the absolute most of them, staying up way past sunset with BBQs, Pimms and fresh seasonal fruit to keep us company.
When the weather’s good, the garden really comes into its own, with people eager to spend as much time as possible outside, even once the sun has gone in. Whether it’s dining al fresco, holding informal dinner parties or having a few drinks with friends and family, it’s important that a relaxing, atmospheric space is created. Lighting – and getting the right kind of lighting – plays a massive part in this.
With help from Festive Lights, an indoor and outdoor lighting company first established in 1998, we have come up with a list of the top garden lighting trends and tips for the summer ahead.
Extend your indoor living space
Festive Lights suggests bringing your indoor space outside, rather than the more traditional idea of bringing the outside in. In other words, make your garden an extension of your indoor space. Hygge, for example, was all the rage in 2016, focusing on warm, snug interiors and a feeling of contentment – if you can bring this to your outside space, it will become the perfect place to spend summer evenings even once the temperature has dropped a few degrees.
Granted, it’s not easy to make exterior spaces cosy, warm and inviting – given they tend to be wide open and more exposed to the elements – but Festive Lights suggests that using the right furniture, lighting and accessories (including blankets, throws and candles) can help to create an ‘alluring ambience’.
Light your garden up
As a way of making garden space more enticing this summer, Festive Lights advises the use of fairy lights and festoon lighting. These help to illuminate a garden by giving off a soft warm glow, rather than anything too harsh, stark or bright. To achieve this, homeowners can wrap string lights around trees or drape them along fences. Festoon lights, meanwhile, can be strung across open areas to engineer ‘a cosy café atmosphere’.
Equally, lanterns (whether Moroccan-style, wax-lit or LED candles) can help to give off a summery vibe, as can colourful hanging lanterns on string lights. One of the main advantages of lanterns is they can prove very versatile and can be taken out onto patios and lawns to be used as a decorative feature, as well as a practical one. They can also even act as a talking point for guests.
Rugs and throws
If you want to create an intimate, homely and cosy vibe, these items are perfect. They have become popular trends on the likes of Pinterest and Instagram in recent times, further highlighting their booming popularity. When the evening turns to night and the weather starts to get a bit chillier, they really come into their own.
Enhance your key features
As Festive Lights puts it, ‘every garden needs a focal point’. It might be a water fountain, an outdoor pizza oven, a pond, a vast tree, an innovative garage or a rockery, but most gardens will have at least one stand-out feature. To truly enhance that key feature, though, you need to draw attention to it by making it the centrepiece of your garden. To do that you need to be strategic with your lighting, accentuating the parts of your garden that are most special, while also bringing your garden together as a whole. The best gardens are more than a sum of their parts.
Define your borders
Gardens very rarely feature borders nowadays – they are deemed old-fashioned and out-of-date. However, they can still be used to good effect, with defined borders drawing attention to the best features of your garden. “You can create this effect by installing strips of waterproof LED rope lighting around the bottom edge of your border,” Festive Lights advises. As well as illuminating pathways, it also helps to add emphasis to any patios, decking or terraced areas. Win-win.
Make it solar
Another form of lighting that can be both decorative and practical is solar lighting, which can help to highlight pathways and borders in an energy-efficient manner. While solar and LED lighting is better for the environment, it also has the advantage of costing you less in the long-run, with lower energy bills. Solar lights don’t cost very much at all – anything from £4.99 to £20.99 – come in a number of varieties (fairy lights, stainless steel, deck lights, glass brick, Moroccan string, etc.) and are easy to install. What’s more, they are long-lasting and resistant to wear and tear.
If you are looking to sell your home this summer, your garden is likely to form a key part of your sales pitch. Whatever you do, make it look smart, bright and welcoming, ensure it is as well-maintained as possible, and shine a light (both literally and figuratively) on your garden’s best attributes. All this will help to increase your chances of selling your home, especially if you are selling to buyers – such as families, retirees and young professionals – who will place a great deal of importance on garden space.