With more of us wanting to use our gardens as much as possible, outdoor lighting is becoming an important part of the exterior design of our gardens. Not only does it provide excellent mood lighting, cast shadows and add interest, but it also adds to the security of your home as a pleasant side effect.
But when deciding on which type of lights to use, the number of options can seem daunting. Electric or solar, LED or low energy, sensors or switches? Hopefully we can offer to cast some light on these issues!
Plan your scheme
Decide what you want your lighting for. Is it security only, task lighting or ambient light. Will it make a feature of a pond, tree or the decking? To get a good idea use torches and place them where you might want the lights to be. See if they will cast too much light on neighbours windows and consider if you want to be able to switch some off while leaving others on. This will affect how you set up the electrical circuits.
Choose a light which will come on when they are passed or when it detects heat. Ensure it is fitted high up on the side of a building to avoid it being tampered with. Ensure that you have enough lights to fill the entire garden or driveway with light. You don't want to leave any dark places for people to hide.
These are very easy to install and do not require any wiring or the use of an electrician. This also makes them a cheaper option. They contain batteries which charge up in the sun during the day and release their light in the night. They will usually have enough power to provide soft light for a few hours. They are good for ambient light, but you might want more if you intend on using the garden for entertaining.
Low energy lighting
These come in kits which can be installed by anyone with a little DIY nohow. They come with a low voltage cable which can be buried in a trench outside. They are then plugged into a standard wall socket either in the house or shed. Usually they are spike mounted to make them easy to move around. Some also come with timers.
Also in this category are fairy lights. These look pretty strung over trees and can be left out in all weathers. Once again the switches can be located indoors. LED lights are also good low energy options. They can be used as small spots inserted into decking to highlight stairs or edges or paths. They also come in interesting colours such as red and blue. They will last a long time and the bulbs almost never never replacing.
These will need to be installed by an expert but are a great way of accenting certain areas of the garden. They can be pointed in any direction and mounted on any structure.
Finally if all else fails try some candles or lanterns. Obviously take care that they are well away from furnishings and children, but they can look very pretty placed on tables or hanging from trees.