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 illumination. Luckily, there’s a whole range of outdoor lighting to choose from, for every part of the garden.
Atmospheric, cosy and essential outdoor lighting helps you to make the most of the space, but where and what should you illuminate? Take a look at our 12 outdoor lighting ideas to get your garden glowing and maybe even do wonders for your mental health as you extend the time you can spend outdoors.
1. Use Lanterns For Portable Illumination
Lanterns are a perfectly portable outdoor lighting option. They can be clustered on patios for a cosy addition to garden seating, line paths to guide your guests to the dinner table, or add an intimate glow to the table itself. They also protect candles from the elements. 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.
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, why not suspend them from lighting poles or drape them along fencing, which will be equally as effective.
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-style outdoor 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
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.
5. But Don’t forget to Highlight the Hazards Too
When highlighting the best aspects of your garden, remember potential hazards. Do you have steps? Decking at different heights? A sloping lawn? Make sure these stand out to avoid accidents. If you have ponds, pools or a fountain, make sure they can be seen in the dark. Not only will they look spectacularly serene; you’ll also be able to see if anyone takes an unexpected tumble. Solar lights can be put in place in a few seconds but provide lasting benefits.
6. Utilise Tree Branches
A great use for outdoor fairy lights 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 & 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 so many solar-powered lights to choose from, they are one of the most hassle-free exterior lighting options and are often attached to stakes that easily stick in the ground so they can be moved around as needed.
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 outdoor walls and fences.
9. Perfect Your Porch
Lights for your front door are not only warm and inviting but helpful too. No more fumbling for your key and the lock when you get home at night, and they keep you safer as you let yourself in. Available in all styles from impeccably modern, to classically country, porch lights will greet you every time you come home.
10. Cast Shadows with Spotlights
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.
11. Get a Warm Glow with Fire Pits or Chimineas
Once the dinner plates have been cleared 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...
12. Keep your Garden Safe & Secure
Lighting your outdoor space not only makes it a fabulous place to hang out, but it has a practical purpose: a well-lit garden is a safer garden. Security lighting makes burglars think twice, so an illuminated home and garden gives you peace of mind. Many lights now have motion sensors for added safety and security – they’re perfect to place near garages, back gates and external doors. Bright white LED lights have to be the ultimate deterrent, and you can switch them off when you’re entertaining.