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!
USA & CANADA
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.