You’ve spruced up the patio and cleaned the garden furniture in preparation for spring and summer entertaining – but what about lighting your outdoor space?

You may just opt for twinkling fairy lights, strategic lanterns, or solar lights to enhance the mood – but top garden designer Andrew Duff (andrewduffgardendesign.com), managing director of The Inchbald School of Design in London, warns there are pitfalls you’ll want to avoid.

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Garden lighting tips

Looking for tips on garden lighting? Duff talks us through some key dos and don’t…

What are the common mistakes people make?

“The main one is overlighting. If you overlight a garden, making it too bright, you lose the wonderful mystique of the space,” says Duff. “The market has become very sophisticated now and people are aware there is specialised garden lighting, and people are bringing in garden lighting experts to light the garden for them.

Don’t overlight an evening entertainment area
Don’t overlight an evening entertainment area (Alamy/PA)

“But people still think the more the merrier – the more it is lit, the better it’s going to be. But it’s really about washing areas with light, so it’s really gentle.”

Are solar lights adequate?

Duff says solar lighting won’t be appropriate for seriously illuminating steps or other areas which need to be clearly visible. “Solar lighting is really gentle, just a subtle glow. You can’t use it for security or lighting steps. It’s just little pulses of light through planting, in the same way we might use fairy lights or lanterns.”

What lighting should you use for entertaining?

“We are seeing a massive return to the use of candles, storm lanterns on the table, soft romantic light we used to have before we overpowered our gardens. Make sure the area around the house is lit, but in a gentle wash, flooding the light out at ground level, so it’s not on the people as such,” says Duff. “Get a qualified electrician – a good lighting supplier will give you the technical data you need – to ensure it’s all safe.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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“In terms of tabletops, gone are the days of spotlights over the tables. Now we are using candle lights as we would inside the house. Strips of warm, white LED lights work beautifully, because then it feels natural. If you introduce colours to a space, you are introducing a very different aesthetic. But you can change the lights at the flick of a switch, so you can have soft white light for an evening meal, but if your kids want to play or you want something more exciting, you can change the colour.”

How would you use coloured lights?

“There’s so much colour in a garden and if it’s lit correctly, you don’t need coloured lights. In a wonderful contemporary garden, a single colour can be almost sculptural in its effect, but be careful that you don’t over-complicate the colour choice,” says Duff.

Will it involve excavating brickwork or other hard landscaping to accommodate new lighting?

“Not necessarily. Many new lights on the market have cabling, which is really fine and subtle. There’s no more big chunky armoured cable because the power to them is so low,” says Duff. “You don’t always need to channel out huge things. You can hide it in planting and in gravel. When the terrace is a wash of gentle lights, think about what features you can highlight in the garden. It might be lighting sculptural pots or a tree in the back.”

How do you best position lights to do that?

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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“A lot of people feel that if you put the lighting under the tree ,that’s the best thing, but actually it’s better to put it in front so that the light washes through it and produces an amazing shadow on whatever is behind. The thing to do is experiment,” suggests Duff. “It doesn’t need to be permanent. Play around with your lighting until you get it right. Planting grows and it covers light, so it’s good to have lighting that you can reposition in the garden.”

How do you light a water feature?

“Pond lights, which go in the water, can uplight marginal plants. But consider what your pond is for,” says Duff. “If you want it to attract wildlife, then lighting is really going to put them off. I wouldn’t normally recommend lighting a pond at all.

“And of course if you light a pond in the water, you can see the bottom, which is never terribly attractive. But there is a range of solar lights which just float on the top, which can create a very pretty effect, almost like little stars.”

What about downlighting?

“If you want to highlight stem structure, wonderful bark and the planting below, then a downlighter can work well in a tree. The key is to make the downlighter as invisible as possible, so I always go for a black matt finish, with a small, low-voltage capable, which disappears into the tree.”

Best-selling garden lighting

Stuck for inspiration? Check out our list of best-selling Amazon products!

Bestseller No. 1
Solar Garden Lights with USB, 60 LED Outdoor String Lights Solar Powered Waterproof Fairy Lights...
  • 【Upgrade Solar Panel and Battery】Using excellent monocrystalline silicon solar powered tech ensure more than 20% energy conversion rate. And batteries can be charged in the winter or rainy...
  • 【Upgrade USB Powered Design】Compared with other string lights, Bteng solar garden light come with an extra USB charging connector. You could just plug it in any 5V/1A USB port device directly...
  • 【60 LEDs and 8 Lighting Modes】60 warm LEDs outdoor lights make this solar fairy lights brighter and versatile than 30 or 50 LEDs. The length of 36 feet is enough to fit any indoor and outdoor...
Bestseller No. 2
21m Extendable to 12 Garden Lights Mains Powerd Premium Spotlights Outdoor Lighting LED 12V Spike...
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  • 🎄21m Ultra Long Outdoor Extension Lead - 6m/19.69ft from the adapter to 1st spotlights, 3m/9.84ft connectable cord between 2 outdoor low voltage lighting, 68.9ft in total, cover your yard fully....
  • 🔥12v Low Voltage Spike Lights - CE RoHS FCC approved, more sturdy and safer than 230v 240v dangerous garden led lights, built-in GS UK transformer, thicker die-cast for lamp body and ground spike,...
SaleBestseller No. 3
DGO Outdoor Lights Mains Powered, 48FT Waterproof Festoon Gazebo Pergola String Lights, Dimmable LED...
  • 🔆【Shatterproof & Detachable Outdoor Lights】Made from safe plastic and durable rubber, which is hard to break even accidentally dropping down. LED filament and lamp housing are detachable, easy...
  • 🔆【Energy-saving Festoon Lights Outdoor】Updated high efficient LED bulbs save over 92% energy over incandescent bulbs. 25,000 hours long lifespan could reduce maintenance costs on changing bulbs...
  • 🔆【Waterproof Outside Pergola Lights】Waterproof gazebo lights can withstand snow, sun, damp, wind, rain and extreme temperatures for outside use. Outdoor fairy lights have special weather-proof...
SaleBestseller No. 4
Solar Lights Outdoor,StillCool Solar Flickering Dancing Flame Lights Waterproof Security Lights...
  • 🔥【Flickering Dancing Flames】Safe realistic alternative flames create a soft, mood-enhancing, pleasant glow which provide a perfect campfire atmosphere. The added pipes allow you to choose...
  • 🔥【Long Working Time】Powered by high-end polysilicon solar panel which has about 17% conversion efficiency; auto on/off from dusk to dawn; so you can place it anywhere under direct sunlight! Led...
  • 🔥Easy Installation & Ip65 Weatherproof】No wiring required, simply install it anywhere you like and enjoy the warm light. IP65 waterproof and dustproof to withstand all kinds of weather all round...
Bestseller No. 5
DSLebeen Festoon Lights Outdoor 50ft LED String Lights Mains Powered with 27+3 Plastic G40 Bulbs...
  • 【Connectable Up to 15 Strands Lights】The 50ft festoon lights outdoor with waterproof connector at the end, it can easily connect up to 15 strands string lights for your needs. It allows to...
  • 【With 3 Meter Long Plug Cord】The LED string lights comes with 3 meter long plug cord, it is easy and convenient for installtion freely. You don't need to worry about that the plug cord is too...
  • 【Energy-Saving & Long Lifespan】The outdoor garden festoon lights with 30pcs G40 LED bulbs (includes 3pcs spare bulbs), low power consumption is only 0.6W/bulb, which is more efficient and...
Bestseller No. 6
[6 Pack] Solar Lights Outdoor, 138 LED Solar Security Lights Motion Sensor with 3 Lighting Modes,...
  • 【6 Pack 138 LED Solar Lights】Outdoor solar wall lights equipped with 6 pack 138 super bright LEDs, each a 1200mAh rechargeable battery, 180º wide angle lighting. Outdoor solar lights can...
  • 【Outdoor Wall Lights with 3 Intelligent Modes】Solar motion sensor lights outdoor bring 3 lighting modes 1. Medium Light Mode(the light turns on automatically night and stay all night.) 2. Dim...
  • 【Solar Powered & Energy-Saving】Solar lights outdoor convert solar energy into electricity through daily exposure to sunlight, which is energy saving & eco-friendly, greatly reduces carbon...
SaleBestseller No. 7
B-right Outdoor Garden Lights Mains Powered with Remote Timer, 16 Colours 8 Modes 20M Long Cable 6n1...
  • RGB + Cool White Garden Lights Mains Powered: 2021 new version 6-IN-1 garden spike lights, more than 3W/300LM COB chip for per light, a total of 18W/1800LM, mini coloured spotlights but triple...
  • Remote Control Timer Colour Garden Spotlights: Timer(4H, 6H, 8H, 24H), 16 solid colors (Red, Green, Blue, White, Purple, Orange...), 8 different modes (AUTO, FADE, JUMP, ASYN FADE, ASYNJUMP, IN WAVES,...
  • 12V Low Voltage Garden Coloured Spotlights: BS UK standard adapter, Input: 100-240V AC, Output: 12V DC Low Voltage, never overheat or burn. (The adapter is NOT waterproof, please stay away from...

Last update on 2022-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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