Any mention of garden lighting can send most people running screaming for the cheap solar spike lights available in the big shed retailers. However, if you want a garden that you can be proud of then it is going to take a little time and little effort to select the right lighting. In the end, it will be well worth it I can assure you. When those halcyon summer evenings roll in and the barbeque is sizzling away, your friends and family are around it is then you will see the value of proper lighting systems and not cheap solar spikes. Alternatively, when the dark of winter arrives and you find that you can still walk around your garden, safely lit, not tripping over kerbs or flagstones then you will realise the value of creating a proper lighting scheme. So what lights can we use in the garden?
The first consideration, when choosing a light that is going to live its life outdoors, is that it is correctly IP rated. Check out our IP guide to learn how those numbers work. As a guide, select a minimum IP rating of 44, this will suffice for most general situations. Best yet choose IP65 or higher.
So now to the lights themselves, which ones and what they do.
Installed in the ground and used for up lighting, either with a narrow beam angle or with an ultra wide beam angle, these lights are great for guiding. They are available in many differing styles and with many differing lamp sources. As garden lights may run for long periods, one should consider LEDs as an option. Selecting LED ground lights will give you the advantage of lower running costs than traditional lighting; lower maintenance and importantly they tend to run much cooler to the touch than the traditional. A great additional benefit when children and pets are about.
Installed with an earth spike, these lights are great for illuminating flowerbeds, trees and steps. They come in many differing variations and styles. Most have the ability to rotate and tilt the lamp head so you can place the light where you need it. With differing lamp bulbs, you can go from subtle guide light to high-powered flood light maybe to illuminate a series of garden flowerbeds.
Now these are usually thought of for lighting long driveways to grand houses and not something for a normal residential garden, but if you let your mind take a little detour from the normal you will find as a single light source they can become a beautiful lighting feature on their own. There is a wide variety of styles to choose from, the modern to the traditional. Positioning one, two even three bollard lights around the garden can really set off the mood and theme of your outdoor space.
Now we come to a popular type of lighting in most garden settings, the deck light. Often we go for the cheap and cheerful versions of this type of light and end up frequently having to replace them year in and year out at an accumulating cost.
So now it is time to get the correct light installed that will last for years to come saving you money in the long term. First, go for LED, as it will reduce your running costs and maintenance as they last on average 30,000 hours. Secondly, look for a fitting made from top quality materials. Stainless steel is ideal for enduring the rigours of the elements. If it is three series grade the better, it will last. Look out for products made from 314-grade steel. Get the highest IP rated fitting you can so it will be safe from any water ingress during the year. IP67 or IP68 would be ideal, as these rated fittings will endure standing water or submerged respectively. Remember that the light does not have to be white either; you can install coloured LEDs that will really add atmosphere to the look of your decking.
People tend to think of floodlights as only for security but that is not the case. Using a small flood light at a low ground level, you can light a lawn up to great effect. Equally, you can use small floodlights to light up walls or trees creating a dramatic effect. You can also use colour changing RGB LED floodlights to change through colour cycles creating a wonderful dance of colour across a garden space, wall or feature area.
Spotlights are great for highlight precise areas such are garden ornaments of a feature plant or shrub. Remember to use the exact considerations when choosing your spotlight as outlined for previous lights. Do not be afraid to add colour to your lighting scheme as at night a coloured spotlight can really add dimension and drama to your garden.
Placing wall lights around the garden can really creating a great effect. A good option is the up and down lights that have a dual light source. These add a great effect to your light scheme when placed in a symmetrical pattern mirroring each other. Add wall lights to entranceways and along the length of boundary walls. There are many styles and varieties to choose from, traditional to modern and ornate to functional. Remember if you are repeating a light along a wall, for example the more functional style wall light may work better than the ornate. Also, consider the use of LEDs to reduce running costs.