Lighting The Way In The Garden

A garden is dramatically enhanced by a well-designed lighting scheme. Why should you not enjoy your garden once the sun has set? In summer lighting provides a beautiful space for entertaining or relaxing. In the cooler months it gives moody and interesting views when looked out upon.

Planning is everything, as badly placed or overused lighting can be cruel and garish.

Path and step lighting is the first on my list, due to both safety and aesthetic reasons. Lamps positioned to illuminate steps need to be discreet and carefully placed to create little light spill and minimise glare. Path lighting requires light beams kept at ground level or using mushroom fittings on short fixtures to avoid unnecessary glare. Discreet lamps here can only compliment other areas of lighting in the garden. Too much attention drawn to a pathway will distract from the overall scheme.

Cross lighting is one of my favourite lighting methods. Placing of two lamps at different angles to the front of a feature tree or plant creates a much more natural and three-dimensional effect. The use of one lamp up-lighting an object creates a very flat effect.

Some mistakes made in lighting outdoor spaces:

No contrast. – The overuse of floodlights to cover large areas produces flat and boring effects. Light must be directional to the area it is lighting and shadows  created as a result and used for additional effect.

Bad lighting fixture placement- The correct placement of lighting fixtures should ensure they do not overly draw attention to themselves, except when they also have a decorative element to them. The placing of fixtures should be well thought out to ensure that they are not placed too close together or too far apart so not to over illuminate objects or create an imbalance to the illumination of the whole area. Pathways sometimes look like landing strips with too many lights placed symmetrically on either side. Lamps placed in wrong positions and angles can also provide glare to the viewer. Frosted lenses, shrouds or using different angles should be considered.

Wrong Colour Temperature – When the wrong lamps or filters are used then the wrong atmosphere is created. Too warm a bulb gives a yellow tinted light and can make the object eluminated appear dirty or dated. Too white a bulb can create a too commercial or sterile feel.

Lighting in a garden is never a cheap option, and should always be installed by a competent electrician, but it lifts a beautiful garden to an outstanding garden. One that you will cherish and enjoy no matter the time of day or time of year.