10 Ideas for garden lighting to make your outdoors glow
With summer around the corner, you might like to add some new outdoor lights in preparation for those long balmy summer nights. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some ideas for garden lighting that’ll improve your outdoors and could form part of a garden automation system.
If you already have a long list of garden tasks to complete, hunting for new garden lights is probably yet another annoying item to tick off the list. It might get lost among the more serious jobs of mowing the lawn, trimming bushes and sorting the shed.
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 garden lighting and snuggled up under a blanket.
Regardless of your space or budget, here are our top 10 ideas for garden lighting that will extend the number of hours you can use your garden. If you enjoy entertaining and long BBQs, these garden lighting ideas are for you.
Basic ideas for garden lighting
If this is the first time you’ve considered adding lights to your garden, it can be tricky to know where to start. 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 by considering your existing features, such as hedges, walkways, decking, ponds and trees. You could light all of these by night. However, you’ll probably want to be a little more selective.
A good starting point could 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 large shadow.
You could uplight a fencing panel to create a sense of space and warmth or try lighting the walkways.
By experimenting with light within your space, you can quickly establish how many fittings you need and where to run cables. Remember, it will be too late once you’ve laid and secured the cables!
Consider experimenting with different beam angles and wattages. Even a tiny 3w LED lamp is surprisingly bright at night.
If you enjoy using the latest intelligent technology, you could 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 adequate lighting.
Lighting a living room and a garden in many ways 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 lamps 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 several styles. These include stake lights that stand alone to illuminated stepping stones. There are even solar string lights available!
The best solar garden lights are fantastic as they absorb and store sunlight during the day and slowly release their energy once the sun goes down.
Some solar lights come on automatically when the light level falls, others have an on/off switch, 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.
With a pond or swimming pool, consider adding a simple underwater spotlight. You might like to light your swimming pool at both ends and enjoy late-night swimming!
You should be able to illuminate most water features 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, set fibres into the base of your pool.
#4 Consider bulb colours
One of our top ideas for garden lighting that many overlook is to consider the bulb colour. Getting lighting to blend into your garden can be tricky, especially if the lights you want only come in the dark.
So, if possible, 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 while adding some brightness to that area.
You can even create a faux fire look. Using a jigsaw, make a hole in a bench and place lights at the back. Next, place stones around and in front, and finish with some clear acrylic.
As we are talking about ideas for garden lighting, this might 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, 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 ideas for garden lighting 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, 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.
Enjoy using these ideas for garden lighting
Lighting your outdoor space is pretty straightforward. Hopefully, you now have plenty of new ideas for garden lighting. 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.