10 Garden lighting ideas to make your outdoors glow
- By: Ashley Saunders
- April 2019
With summer nearly upon us, it’s worth adding some new garden lighting ideas to revitalise your outdoor space and prepare it for those long balmy summer nights. Instantly improve your outdoors with a few new lights and some garden automation.
You probably already have a list of garden tasks to complete, from mowing the lawn, trimming bushes and sorting the shed, so the idea of adding even more items to the list, might be the last thing you want.
However, you’ll thank us later when you’re relaxing late into the evening with a glass of wine and a book sitting under your new beautiful lighting and snuggled up a blanket.
Regardless of your space or budget, here are our top 10 garden lighting ideas that will extend the number of hours you can use your garden each day. If you enjoy entertaining and long BBQs, then you’ll particularly love our garden lighting ideas for you.
Basic garden lighting ideas
If you haven’t lit your garden before, knowing where to start can be tricky. Not to mention that striking the right balance can be difficult.
Use too much light, and your garden will look like a Christmas tree. However, too little and you won’t enjoy using the space as much as you could. It’ll seem too dark, small, and uncomfortable.
Let’s start with the features you have already. These include such things as hedges, walkways, decking, ponds and trees. You can light all of these by night. However, you’ll want to be more selective.
A good starting point would be to connect a spot or floodlight to a long extension lead. With this in hand, walk around the garden at night and experiment.
For example, placing the lamp directly under a statue will bring it to life. Try moving the lamp to the left. You’re lighting a wider area and creating a larger shadow.
You could uplight a fencing panel to create a sense of space and warmth, or maybe, try lighting the walkways.
By experimenting with light within your space, you can quickly establish how many fitting you need and where to run cables. Remember, it will be too late once all the cables are laid and secured.
Consider experimenting with different beam angles and wattages. Even a tiny 3w LED lamp is surprisingly bright at night.
If you enjoy smart technology, you could even automate your outdoor lighting. There’s nothing quite like smart outdoor lighting that you can operate from anywhere!
#1 Layer your lighting
After experimenting with a spotlight, it’s time to build a more solid plan to ensure your outdoors has adequately lighting.
Lighting a living room and a garden is quite similar. In your living room, for example, you’ll want a pendant light that provides plenty of brightness. In addition, you’ll likely want reading lamps and maybe lights in front of paintings.
We can apply these ideas to the garden as they translate well. You could use low powered spotlights to mark walkways and paths, as this creates a subtle backdrop.
On top of these, you could higher-powered lamp to light dining or sitting areas. The combination of the two levels of lights creates a relaxing environment. If you have statues, water features or plan to uplight an array of fencing, use low powered lights to add highlights.
By adding another layer of lights, you can create some interesting textures and options. Experiment with different combinations to find the ideal lighting for the mood. And, of course, you can add additional lights for special occasions.
#2 Use solar powered garden lights
In addition to hardwired lights, you can use solar lights in several ways. They’re great for marking pathways, lawns and decking.
Solar lighting has evolved over the last few years and is now available in a range of styles. These include stake lights that stand alone to illuminated stepping stones. There are even solar string lights available!
Solar lights are fantastic as they absorb and store sunlight by day and then slowly release their energy once the sun goes down.
Some solar lights come on automatically when the light level falls, others can be switched on/off, and a few options run on timers.
Our favourites are the automatic variety, as they can be with other lights on a home automation system to create interest within your outdoor space.
#3 Highlighting water features
Combining water and light can have a magical effect as the light creates unique refraction patterns on the surrounding area.
If you have a pond or swimming pool, then consider adding a simple underwater spotlight. For a pool, add lights at both ends and enjoy late-night swimming!
On a water feature, you can probably get away with using a single light, especially if placed underwater flow.
You can also use fibre optics within water jets to create an enchanting effect. If you want to mirror the stars in the sky, then set fibres into the base of your pool.
#4 Consider bulb colours
Getting lighting to blend into your garden can be tricky, especially if the lights you want only come in the dark.
So one of our best garden lighting ideas is, if possible, to use lights in an olive green tone. Copper tones also blend in much better, especially as they develop a greener hue with age.
#5 Hide your gardening lighting
Using spotlights under the seating and decking is a fantastic way to create a seamless look yet brighten up the specific area.
You can even create a faux fire look. Create a cut out in a bench, then place lights at the back. Next, place stones around and in front, and finish with some clear acrylic.
As we are talking about garden lighting ideas, this may seem like a weird suggestion. However, candles, both the real kind and the faux battery-powered versions, are excellent for adding depth to any area.
Candles are also fantastic for bringing life to small gardens and balconies.
Since there is no right way to use candles, it’s best to experiment. One of our favourite ways is to use a few different height candles on a plate. Then use these plates to mark the seating area or on a table.
If you already have some hurricane vases with candles in, then consider using them outdoors as well.
#7 Create a canopy
Get that festival look by adding festoon lights or string lights. You can drape them through trees and hedges or suspend them over a dining area with poles. Either is a simple way to add a canopy of light and relive those festival vibes.
If you don’t have any trees, experiment with draping them over fencing panels, it’ll look just as good.
#8 Paper lanterns
If you don’t quite have the budget to lay lights in your garden, use LED tea lights and paper lanterns to light pathways. Place a lantern at each end of the step to illuminate them and add more depth.
Paper lanterns with tea lights also work great on balconies. If you’re feeling adventurous, buy plain paper lanterns and cut your own shapes into them.
In terms of lights, while you can use normal tea lights, try to purchase some LED solar-powered ones. They are easy to maintain and won’t create a mess if someone knocks one over.
Lighting can help you to create a great first impression. So it’s worth thinking about lighting your driveway and entrances.
We’ve reviewed several of the best porch lights, and at least one will work for you. Adding external lights to your front and back entrances is a fantastic way to warmly welcome guests.
If you plan to use a porch light as part of a garden lighting scheme, purchase one with a sensor. As people approach your home, the light will come on. However, it won’t distract from your overall lighting scheme when not needed.
#10 Less = more
One of our best garden lighting ideas is less is often more! Filling your garden with lots of lights is one of the worse things you can do, especially if you have a small garden.
There’s no need to overcomplicate. So think simply, and use fewer lights. Don’t be afraid to experiment both with the number of lights and the position of each.
#11 Bonus idea – Don’t forget the shed!
Sheds easily descend into chaos when not regularly sorted. One of the main reasons most don’t keep on top of their shed is a lack of light. You can quickly solve this issue with some LED strips.
Having power in your shed makes the process easier. If you don’t, then simply add some solar panels. Before purchasing LED strips and solar panels, check that it’s safe to use them how you intend to. It might be worth re-felting the roof first.
Top garden lighting ideas
Lighting your outdoor space is pretty straightforward. Hopefully, you now have plenty of new garden lighting ideas. You might even consider adding some Sonos Smart speakers to your outdoor space, especially if you enjoy listening to music.
When adding lighting to any space, experiment first. Don’t install and then realise none are in the right place. It’s costly to move already installed cables, particularly if you’ve hired a landscaper.
Experiment with how different lights interact with each other and with the existing features. The more garden lighting ideas you try, the better your results.
Keep the main garden lighting simple and use candles and solar-powered lights to add depth and interest. Moveable lights are superb in winter as you can easily move them closer to the house and create a more intimate feel.