Lighting is often an overlooked part of designing a garden, but it’s essential if you want to create a space you can use after dark. David Boultbee, from LED and outdoor lighting specialist Ultra LEDs, shares five tips for lighting your garden. As it’s always best to learn from the experts;

In Winter it’s lovely to look out on a garden which has some ambient and decorative lighting. Not only does this create warmth, were darkest would normally be but it will draw your eye outwards, making your indoor space feel larger.  During the summer months, our outside spaces become almost like another room in the home, so it makes sense that we need to find a way to light them after the sun sets.

But, lighting a garden properly can be deceptively tricky to do. If you go overboard, your space can look garish and tacky, but if there’s not enough light, it will lack ambience. In this post, I’ll share five tips to help you nail your outdoor lighting, so you can enjoy your garden after dark through the summer and beyond.

Go For LED Lighting Options in Warm Tones

LED bulbs are much more energy efficient than older halogen styles, which means they’re cheaper to run and better for the environment, too. They also provide brighter illumination, which is ideal for when you want to dine or relax in your garden late at night. So, when picking any kind of lighting outdoor feature, always go for LED variants where possible.

The tone and warmth of your lighting can have a big impact on the atmosphere in your garden. Bright, cool, blue-toned LEDs provide very bright illumination, which is ideal for security lights or floodlights, but not really suitable when you want a relaxing ambience. So, always choose warm white bulbs when lighting social or dining areas: this will ensure your space looks romantic and inviting.

Highlight Focal Points

Highlight Focal Points

If you’ve invested in a stunning garden, it makes sense to ensure that the best features can be seen after dark. By placing your lighting strategically, you can highlight focal points such as statues, water features, or feature planting topiary bushes for a dramatic look. This can also ensure your garden’s best bits look stunning through the winter, when it will be dark for much of the day.

The simplest and most effective way to do this is to angle some spotlights towards the areas or objects you want to highlight. Be careful not to overdo it in terms of how many focal points you choose: ideally, you only want to illuminate one or two features in this way. This will ensure your garden doesn’t look gaudy and will make your chosen highlights really stand out.

Choose Lighting That Respects Local Wildlife

Wildlife-friendly Lighting

The way we light our outside spaces can seriously interfere with local wildlife. Nocturnal insects and animals like moths, birds, bats and foxes can all become disorientated by bright artificial lighting late at night. So, it’s important to be considerate of these creatures when adding lighting elements to your garden.

The best way to do this is to position lights as low to the ground as possible and take care to aim lights responsibly. You should always avoid angling any spotlights straight up into the sky, as this will contribute to light pollution, which is thought to be bad for almost all forms of wildlife. Choosing lower-intensity lighting in warm white hues is also thought to be less disruptive for animals and insects. You can also help by only switching lighting on when you’re actually using your garden at night and by ensuring that you leave a few dark corners in your garden for animals and insects to hide away.

Use Romantic Ambient Lighting Around Seating Areas

Romantic Ambient Lighting

When you use your garden in the evenings, you’ll no doubt be spending most of your time relaxing or dining in your seating area. So, it’s only sensible to add plenty of ambient lighting to this zone. Overhead festoon lights are a great choice for this part of the garden: they have a very festive, summery look, and provide bright enough light to read or dine under without being garish. As you can see in from this Small Garden Project they look great over the dining area.

You’ll want to add plenty of lanterns and candles to your seating area, too. If you’re worried about lit candles being a fire hazard, go for LED versions: these look just as good as the real thing, but they’re much safer, and you won’t need to fiddle around lighting them.

Make a Statement With Some Bold Lighting

Bold Lighting

If you want to create a stunning centrepiece for your night-time garden, then consider adding a bold and bright lighting installation. Lighting canopies or curtains can look spectacular, especially when positioned against a wall or over a pergola or terrace. They’re fairly simple to execute, too: all you need is a net or curtain of fairy lights. You could even go for a set that cycles through a series of flashing or sequenced effects. This will ensure the garden looks every bit as striking after dark as it does during the day.

Light Pathways With Strip Lighting

Another simple but effective way to add drama, and function depth, and style to your garden is to light walkways and patios, and flowerbeds with LED strip lighting. Not only does this look incredibly stylish but it will make it much easier to see where you’re going when it’s dark. And, as the lighting is lower to the ground, it will be less disruptive for local wildlife.

For a dramatic, eye-catching look, you could even use colour-changing strip lights or those with pre-programed light cycles and sequences. Remember, as with all wired mains lighting, you’ll need to hire a qualified electrician to fit your outdoor LED lighting for you safely.

Try using a few of the ideas I’ve shared here to create a garden that looks wonderfully inviting after dark.