Planning your garden lighting for maximum effect

The most Important Aspects of Garden Lighting

Garden lighting can create a specific ambience within any garden space. With the advent of LED lighting options, the gardener now has at their disposal a varied array of options to create any desired effect they would like. With a few simple steps its possible to create an outstanding illumination effect to really bring the gardens features out when the sun goes down.

What types of garden lighting are available?

12v or 240v?

The majority of garden lighting now comes in 12v options, which is essentially 240v standard electricity which is then run through a transformer to reduce it down to 12 volt. This has a number of benefits including cost savings in terms of electricity use as well as environmental impact reductions and safety, from the perspective that a 12 v supply is a much lower voltage then the standard 240v.

Types of lighting styles

Bollard Lighting

This type of lighting such as the ornate lamppost style or bollard style are typically used for marking or illuminating pathways. There are a myriad of styles and the bollard styles using a brushed aluminium finish often are the most popular.

Fixed / Spike / Spot Lighting

The type of lighting is often fixed in one position such as on a wall or fence to highlight certain areas. The spiked versions of these form of lighting can often be added to potted plants and around plants in general to highlight a specific type of feature. These lights often offer a wide beam style lighting and can be used in any number around the garden to offer spot lighting.

Cabled lighting

This form of gang cabled lighting is often used in a long procession such as the surround of an outside gazebo. Available in a wide variety of styles, it has also started being used in an arrangement around tree’s for the purpose of highlighting.

Recessed lighting

These can often be found within decking. LED style lights which are available in various colours, and compliment the decking perfectly. Typical locations include steps, and the edges of boards to signify the edge of decking.

Apart from the type of light fitting that is used, the type of light bulb is an important consideration. Whether looking for a specific type of glow or energy and environmentally friendly, there are now a greater number of options than ever before.

Types of light bulbs


The traditional form of lighting, offers excellent coverage with a bright luminescence. Now available in various styles such as soft glow, bright etc, it enables the designer a great deal more scope and the ability to enhance the overall effect with soft lighting options.


A money saving option with long lasting Light Emitting Diodes (LED). There is no doubt that LED’s have come a long way in recent years. Only a few years ago the key issue was simply the amount of light that they often emitted, whereas now, they are now able to compare favourably with traditional lighting, but with the added benefits of significant electricity usage and cost implications although typically they are more expensive than traditional halogen lights. Durability is also another important plus point, with the average LED indicated to last around 20,000 hours.

Fibre Optics

Although fibre optics have been around for a while, there use within the garden has been somewhat limited. There are several reasons for this, one of which is durability. Additionally the level of light that is often emitted is usually insufficient for most requirements, apart from when trying to create a specific effect.

Solar powered

Again a relatively new option. The inherent benefit is two fold, cost savings with no use of electricity and little environmental impact. However a problem with solar powered lighting is the amount of light that is produced. Usually this form of lighting uses a form of LED’s due to their low power consumption, but they still generally can only be used for low lighting options such as pathway guides, not for illumination of areas/ plants.

Dependent upon the type of garden you have, there are a variety of areas that will create the overall theme that your looking for. A good idea is to take a torch out to your garden when its dark, and light up specific areas to see how they look. This will give you a good idea of how the lighting will look.

It will often be the case that several areas will be lit, usually in a certain style. For example pathways, slabbed areas will often have bollards located around to highlight the walkways for safety as well as ambience.

Specific planting areas or specific plants can be highlighted with located spiked or fixed lighting, which illuminates the plant or area to great effect.

A recent trend has been the illuminated tree, which has a variety of LED lights attached which then displays an impressive lighting display.

Set up timer switches or PIR switches to automatically switch on the lights at the appropriate time.

Whatever style of lighting you decide, the details provided will give you a solid base to work with. With some thought and careful planning, your garden can come alive at night and provide the suitable backdrop and overall ambience that your looking for.

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