Outdoor lighting is crucial if you want to enjoy your garden at night.
And with the weather warming up, now is a good time to get your lighting sorted.
Beacon Lighting product specialist Denise Hammond said the first step was to define what areas you wanted lit — from paths and porticos to barbecues and dining areas — and what you planned to do in them.
She said to take into account how different seasons would have an impact on your requirements.
“In summer, for instance, you’ll usually have enough natural light to dine outside in the evening,” Ms Hammond said. “You might just want some soft mood light with candles or an exterior table lamp, as well as some task lighting for cooking on the barbecue.”
Before buying your lights, look to your home’s architectural style and pick up on colours or materials that will make your choices feel visually connected to the home.
“If you have black aluminium window frames, perhaps team them with a similar-style lighting fitting in the same finish or colourway,” Ms Hammond said.
“Just be sure that whatever you pick is not too overbearing. The light fitting needs to complement the size and shape of the space.”
If your home was near the coast or had a saltwater or chlorinated pool, Ms Hammond suggested using high-grade stainless-steel or aluminium fittings that were specifically designed for those conditions.
However, she added, high-grade stainless steel did require continuous maintenance or your lights could end up looking tea stained.
Aluminium, on the other hand, could withstand practically all outdoor elements, while copper had an artistic appeal.
“Copper will naturally patinate with age and the burnished look will blend beautifully in garden foliage,” Ms Hammond said.
In the mood
Avoid having lots of spotlights in an outdoor area where you’re trying to relax and talk to people because they tend to create lots of glare, Ms Hammond said.
Look instead at using outdoor pendant lights, which are moisture and dust-resistant and will direct light downwards, rather than directly at you.
“They can happily hang over a dining table in an alfresco area and create the same ambience you’d get in your dining room inside,” Ms Hammond said.
Also, think about how you can use garden surfaces, such as walls, fences or artwork, to bounce light around and create a soft wash of light that’s calming or draws you towards a space.
According to Ms Hammond, the best garden lighting is always unseen. She recommended scattering hidden lights through garden beds or in trees where the lights could be directed downwards or upwards to highlight foliage and form beautiful pools of light.
She said a common mistake was to over-light exterior spaces. Doing this could affect rooms inside, wash out a view of the stars and be hard on the eyes.
Instead, she recommended taking a more considered approach and really concentrate light in your chosen areas.
“Be aware, you may need to combine various types and qualities of light,” she said. “It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach.”
Here is more advice from Ms Hammond on exterior lighting:
• Clean solar light panels by dabbing nail polish remover on a soft cloth and wiping the panels.
• Place wall lights either side of a door just slightly above eye level, or lanterns in the portico, to create a warm welcome.
• Add spiked lights with hoods near a fire pit so light is directed on the ground. This way, people can easily see where they’re walking to take a seat.
• Position garden lighting to highlight sculptures, plants and water features.
• Introduce smart lighting for convenience. It will allow you to do things like change the colour of LED lights on voice command or turn on exterior lights using your phone.
• To reduce glare, recess lights along the edge of your deck (so they are flush with the deck floor). Ask your carpenter or electrician to make the holes big enough so the lights can be tilted, when needed, away from people’s faces.
• Create a point of difference with underlit cantilevered steps. The strip lighting produces a subtle light and sophisticated look and makes traversing up and down easier and safer.