Landscape lighting is a real art form. I will need to immediately tell you that is it not my main area of expertise. When I have a big scheme to do, I always call in a lighting designer. A good lighting designer will work absolute magic.

However, having said that, I have picked up one or two useful tips along the way that might help you if you’re planning your own lighting scheme.


Tip 1 If you don’t light it you don’t see it!

Yes, I know that is incredibly obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy is to not consider this aspect of garden lighting. In the daytime, we’re so used to seeing everything, because of the daylight, but when it comes to lighting at night, we forget about how we see things (usually in conjunction with the surrounding items).

The most obvious thing to do is to light up key features in the garden like a statue or pergola or something. Unfortunately, if you do this, you end up with something glowing at the end of your garden like a UFO has landed!


So, it’s really important that you light the visual journey to the object that you wish to light. So if you have a statue at the end of the garden, you strategically light a visual pathway to get to it. It doesn’t have to be an actual path, it can be a series of lights that are dotted through the borders that end up at the statue, so your eyes have something to follow and it ties in with the surrounding areas. It’s not just there in the garden on its own, lit up like a Christmas tree!

Tip 2 Don’t buy cheap lights

Seriously, don’t. Admittedly, cheaper lights are a lot better looking than they used to be, less Dalek like, but even so they tend to be quite an eyesore during daylight hours. Good lighting tends to be smaller and discreet and is also made of more durable materials. You can control and adjust how the beam of light lands and you can also add different filters to create different effects. Unfortunately, that’s way beyond my skill set but I just wanted to make you aware that you can do a lot more with proper garden lighting.

Lighting designers I’ve worked with always recommend Hunza lighting, but there are a lot of similar brands that are good. Shop around online, there are tons to choose from. I’ll put some links at the bottom of this article to point you in the right direction.

Tip 3 Put in a higher power cable when you think you’ll ever need

Basically, put in a cable that is capable of running more electrical units than you think you’re going to need. If you ever decide to put in a water feature or garden shed or decide you want more lights then it’s very handy to have a cable that is powerful enough to run extra things off should you need it.

There are many different ways to do lighting from uplighting to downlighting and probably 1 million others I don’t know about. So, I’m going to try and sweet talk one of the lighting designers that I know into writing an article for us to explain the subtleties and the art of lighting in more detail than I’m able to. Or if you are a lighting designer and would like to write an article here on Successful garden design, then please get in touch!

OR don’t use a cable at all…

Since I first wrote this article I have tried out some solar-powered lights in my own garden and whilst they are far from perfect, I have been pretty impressed. The lights aren’t as ugly as they used to be and in the summer months, they give light from dusk to dawn. Now we’re entering winter they aren’t lasting that long but there’s still a reasonable amount of light for a few hours.

Where to buy online?

People always ask me where to get good quality lights online, so I’ve spent a good few hours trawling through the interwebs to give you some suggestions. Please note: on some products I do receive a small commission, which helps me towards the running costs of this website. I’ve chosen lights I like the look of, but still, please do your own due diligence, and check the quality and reputation of the companies, before you purchase anything, as I have no direct experience with any of them!


Modern – Lovely contemporary garden lighting and slightly more affordable than the ones above (USA only).


Great selection of modern and traditional garden lights, at good prices, from Lighting Direct. Free UK delivery on all orders over £65.

A nice selection of solar lights over at Greenfingers.

Lighting Questions and Comments?

Do you have any questions you’d like me to ask a lighting designer? Or have you come across gorgeous garden lighting products? If so let me know in the comments below…

And if you purchase any of those gorgeous designer lights from my first recommendation above, do please email me some photos so I can live vicariously through your purchasing! 😉

Whatever you do though – don’t add a single light to your garden until…

You’ve got the design right!

Seriously! You will totally waste your time and money if you try to light a poorly designed garden. If you don’t know how to design your garden properly, then please attend one of my FREE garden design web classes.




Rachel Mathews
Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 30 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

    10 replies to "Garden lighting tips – luscious landscape lighting"

    • Paul

      This is good info. I would be happy to guest blog on lighting and maybe you could do a post for me? Wishing you an illuminating day.

      • Rachel Mathews

        Thanks Paul! That would be great if you can do a guest post – you have an excellent website, I’d be more than happy to do a guest post for you too! Drop me an email via the contact page and let me know what aspect you’d like me to write about


      Hi just one point on “Tip 3 Put in a higher power cable when you think you’ll ever need” buried cables must be insulated in a conduit before being placed in the ground and at certain depths – check out the rules and regulations Health and Safety of your local authority/zone as colour conduits (insulating pipes for electric cables) may differ from country to country and state to state. 🙂

      [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • Elizabeth Goddard

      How reliable are solar lights as an alternative to LED? Do they srore enough energy that they will glow for +5 hours in the dark?
      Or solar powered water features.

      • Rachel Mathews

        There are some, Elizabeth, but to be honest, they are so ugly, I’m not sure you’d want them! Here’s an article I found listing ones that last 6-10hrs.


        May I suggest going to visit Open Gardens in the evening to see how they enhance their plants with lighting. Some great RHS Gardens open in the evening especially leading up to Christmas. Check out Kew Gardens

        With regard to solar powered lights – Elizabeth Goddard – the length of time the recharge lasts depends on the amount of sun – ie where you live. My solar powered white tree lights (along my balcony) are on a timer so they come on at sunset and go off at sunrise, 6+ hours overnight but then I live in S.France…. I have the charger tucked into some plants so its not visible but its positioned so the sun can get to it.

    • Judith Kaye

      Rther thn length of time the lights are on, I am interested in the intensity of the light. The solar lights I’ve seen so far weem like a glow worm to me, rather than proper bright lighting. Please advise if there are sgtrong ones.

    • Justin Waite

      On a different website it was highlighted that light pollution messes with wildlife. Hardwired lights can be put on a timer but solar tends to stay on as long as the batteries last – is there any point having lights on once you’ve gone to bed? I have looked for solar with timers but haven’t been able to find them. The only option seems to be to buy a timer separately and cut it into the daisy chain.

      • Rachel Mathews

        That’s a very good point. Bright lights mess with everyone’s circadian rhythms. I trialled soft light solar and they were good to begin with but barely any light from them now. And yes, it’s a shame they aren’t on a timer as you’re right, there really is no need to have them on all night!

    • Melissa Jane Peacock

      Thank you, an interesting article with some good tips!

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