How Does Your Garden Glow? 12 Illuminating Outdoor Lighting Ideas

29 June 2020

Outdoor lighting ideas

Good weather is just around the corner, so now’s the time to consider what you can do in the garden to get it ready to enjoy your outdoor space long after the sun’s gone down. One of the key elements of garden design is outdoor lighting. Atmospheric, cosy and essential outdoor lighting helps you to make the most of your garden, but where and what should you illuminate? Take a look at our 12 outdoor lighting ideas to get your garden glowing…

1. Use Lanterns For Portable Illumination

lanterns at an outdoor dining table

Lanterns are a perfectly portable outdoor lighting option. They can be clustered on patios for a cosy addition to garden seating, they can line paths to guide your guests to the dinner table, or even add an intimate glow to the table itself. Lanterns also protect candles from the elements making them a better option for outdoors than tealight holders. Make sure to look for lanterns suitable for outdoor use which can be left outside all summer come rain or shine, or if you’re just using normal lanterns make sure to take them back inside when you’re finished.

festoon lights over a table
Garden Trading

2. Get the Festival Feel with Festoon Lights

Festoon lights or string lights are a fabulous addition to any garden and are loved for their laidback feel. Particularly dramatic and inviting when zigzagged over a seating or dining area, they create a canopy of lights worthy of the finest (and funnest) festivals. If you don’t have anything around your seating area to attach the lights to, you’ll also find lighting poles to suspend them from or use them in other spaces in your garden like around fencing which will be equally as effective.

Bulkhead light on a fence
Garden Trading

3. Use Bulk Heads for Larger Lighting Needs

Delicate lighting options like festoons and lanterns are essential for creating a cosy atmosphere but will usually need to be supplemented by brighter lighting, especially in high use areas. You’ll want your guests to be able to actually see their food after all. Bulkhead wall lights are robust and completely watertight making them excellent options for year-round outdoor lighting. Evenly space these on the outside walls of your home as the foundation of your garden lighting, then you can layer more decorative lighting in key areas.

4. Highlight Your Best Features

lit up garden flower beds
Tomasz Zajda/

Your garden is certain to have some features you want to show off. From carefully curated flower beds and show-stopping trees, to water features and sculptures, make sure to shine a light on your garden's best bits. Spotlights or up/downlights strategically placed and pointed will bring certain aspects of your garden to life as the night draws in and will let you get even more enjoyment out of these features.

light up garden steps
Auttapon Moonsawad/

5. But Don’t forget to Highlight the Hazards Too

When highlighting the best aspects of your garden, don’t forget about any potential hazards too. Do you have steps? Decking at different heights? Or a severely slopping lawn? Make sure to make these stand out too to avoid accidents. If you have water like ponds, pools or even a fountain make sure these can be seen in the dark too, not only will they look spectacularly serene, you’ll also be able to see if anyone takes an unexpected tumble.

People hanging lights from tree branches

6. Utilize Tree Branches

Another great use for the festoon lights we’ve mentioned before is draping them from tree branches to create an ethereal glow. If you have a tree near your outdoor dining furniture, the branches can also be used to hang outdoor pendant lights which will offer a brighter light for al fresco dining.

7. Line Footpaths & Walk ways

Garden with brightly lit walkways

Not only are well-lit pathways essential in any garden but by creating a glow in these areas they give your garden a subtle magical quality that invites you to explore where the path leads. With many path lights solar powered, they are one of the most hassle-free lighting options and are often attached to stakes that easily stick in the ground so they can be moved around as needed too.

up/down wall light on a textured wall
Garden Trading

8. Use Uplights and Downlights to Enhance Wall Textures

Uplights and downlights (or a mix of both) are becoming an increasingly popular way to highlight your home both front and back. Instantly drawing the eyes, these lights bring whatever they shine on to the forefront making them fabulous for fixing to uniquely textured walls and fences.

porch light outside a front door

9. Perfect Your Porch

Lights for your front door are not only warm and inviting but essential too. Helping you to avoid fumbling for your key and then the lock when you get home at night and keeping you safer as you let yourself in, a door light is a must-have for any home. Available in all styles from impeccably modern, to classically country, they will greet you every time you come home.

10. Cast Shadows with Spotlights

Spotlight shining up at a tree

We’ve already mentioned how great spotlights are for highlighting your favourite garden features, but there’s another way you can use them to create intrigue in the garden. By placing them behind key shapes, whether that be large pots, works of art or statement statues, you can play with the balance of light and dark by casting shadows. A contrast to highlighting features, the shadows add a more dramatic flair to your outdoor space.

garden fire pit
Garden Trading

11. Get a Warm Glow with Fire Pits or Chimineas

Once the dinner plates have been cleaned away, it’s time to move to a more relaxed setting for drinks, games and stories. Relaxed seating areas should be as cosy as possible and one of the best ways to illuminate these spaces is firelight. Fire pits or chimineas, are not only mesmerising to watch but they’ll keep you and your guests toasty well into the evening, just don’t forget the marshmallows!

outdoor sensor light

12. Keep your Garden Safe & Secure

Lighting your outdoor space well not only makes it a fabulous place to hang out in, but it has a practical purpose too as a well-lit garden is a safer garden. Helping to make burglars to think twice, a well illuminated home and garden will give you more peace of mind and many lights now have sensors for added security which are perfect to place near garages, back gates and external doors.

Discover more outdoor inspiration in AMARA's latest Decor & Design magazine...