The New Garden Lighting Trend You’re Going to See Everywhere This Summer.BaoHa

‘Layers of outdoor lighting ideas on the exterior of your home help to create ambience, highlighting mood, the garden and/or the home as well as providing general illumination at night,’ advises Bruce Fox, founder of Bruce Fox Design, ‘Use multiple sources of lighting for any exterior plan, including small lights to guide walkways, up lighting for trees/vegetation, low lighting for ambiance and lanterns in areas for socializing. Your landscape light should be on a dimmer so that you can vary the levels of lighting.’

1. Define The Purpose Of The Outdoor Lighting

front lit cedar tree and wide beams set in lawn of country garden

When planning garden lighting, ‘defining the purpose helps you to decide the type of garden lighting required. Are you looking for wayfinding, path light or more accent, feature lighting?’ explains Jo Mann, founder and design director at Light House Designs.

In the design above, front lighting on a cedar tree draws attention to this majestic feature and draws the eye down the garden, while wide beam flood lights set in the lawn act as path lights.

Be sure to choose outdoor lighting ideas that are suitable to the environment.  Check the IP rating and consider whether the lighting will have to withstand traffic or a mower. ‘It is important to ensure the finish of the luminaires can withstand an exterior environment, while blending seamlessly into the landscape,’ Jo adds.

uplit tree at night time in a garden

If consideration is given to the position of outdoor lighting ideas, ‘the effect can be subtle and stunning in equal measure,’ explains Jo Mann.

Uplighting can be a very effective way to enhance trees, shrubs, feature as well as architectural elements in gardens.

The position of garden lighting can provide very different effects. ‘If it is positioned in front of the object, it provides a wash; to the side will define shape; from behind the lighting will cast the object into silhouette. Columns can have a dramatically different appearance if the light is set at the front, side or back,’ Jo adds.

‘Site tests are instrumental in deciphering the optimum effect. When lighting a mature tree, for example, where no bough or branch are the same, it is important to trial a working sample at dusk so you can see the result. Depending on the size of the canopy, sometimes the lights can be meters from the lower branches, and you may need more than one fitting for effective coverage.’

3. Vary Beam Angles

various garden lighting ideas including uplit trees, step lighting and lanterns

Using varying beam angles is another way to create layered elements of interest with outdoor lighting ideas.

‘A wide beam angle will provide a flood of light, a narrow beam will provide a sharper, more defined shard. If you are lighting a particularly sculptural tree, or yard art idea, you may wish to wash the front of the canopy with a soft flood of light, then add a secondary element by casting a narrow beam of light up the trunk, positioned near the bottom of the tree,’ explains Jo Mann.

‘If you set the lighting behind the tree, it casts the solid shape in silhouette. A large willow tree can look like a firework as the light shimmers through the canopy. If the tree is next to a garden pond or lake, the glistening reflection on the still, black water is equally stunning,’ explains Jo, such as in the design above, where uplit multi-stem trees around a patio seating area are reflected in the water feature.

4. Choose The Right Light Fitting For The Location

outdoor lighting ideas in a garden with uplit trees and steps

It is crucial that you choose the appropriate type of light and accessory for the location. Lighting incorporated within flower bed ideas will require a spike fitting to avoid overgrown foliage, or leaves falling on top of the fitting which will block the light.  ‘If the luminaire is set in paving as part of a garden path idea it will need a recessed fitting, and with gravel, the luminaire can be recessed into a set stone to keep it level and fixed in position,’ advises Jo Mann.

In this design above, Jo used spike uplights to pleached trees on left hand perimeter, while she downlit path lights for wayfinding without glare.

Disguising light can also bring character to an area.

5. Create An Outdoor Living Room With Lighting

Resdential project by Rosendale Design

Outdoor lighting ideas can create the true sense of an outdoor ‘room’. For instance, if you position lights on a garden wall either side of an outdoor fireplace it will give the sense of an exterior living room. The soft background lighting can mimic that you might use in an interior room, to subtly light the seating area and provide the finishing touch to a fabulous alfresco entertaining space.

6. Add Solar Lights To The Front Garden

Solar lighting in raised brick wall at front of house

When considering outdoor lighting ideas be sure not to overlook how lighting could enhance your front yard landscaping ideas. An outdoor light will provide a welcoming beacon for visitors, as well as enhance security.

When selecting lights for the front of your home, it is best to opt for outdoor lighting ideas that work on a sensor or a timer. By selecting lights that operate intermittently you will still get the benefits of outdoor lighting ideas but it will not disturb neighbors or waste energy when they are not in use. Solar outdoor lighting ideas will save energy, too.

7. Create A Versatile Patio With Wall Lighting

patio with wall lights on feature wall

A patio provides you with a versatile outdoor space that can take you from day to night regardless of the weather. However, if you’re planning to stay out after the sun sets then patio lighting is essential.

‘Whatever the size or style, wall lights are a great choice of outdoor lighting that’s both practical and atmospheric. As well as providing effective task lighting perfect for illuminating different areas of a garden, defining boundaries, and linking different zones within a larger garden. They also offer great accent lighting, making them ideal for highlighting features within the garden, and providing a gentle source of light when you want to relax or entertain in the evening,’ says Jo Plant, head of design at Pooky.

8. Illuminate Your Living Wall With Perfectly Positioned Spotlights

living wall illuminated with garden lighting

Living wall ideas are a popular addition to gardens, maximizing the available planting space and providing a pretty backdrop to your patio. Draw the eye to this living feature wall by uplighting it with embedded patio lights.

Despite being more difficult to install than other forms of garden lighting, in ground lighting can still be done on a DIY basis. ‘The important thing is that the lighting needs to be far enough away from the wall in order to allow for the growth of the plants over a period of years. However, if they are placed too far away then the wall is never properly lit,’ says landscape architect John Davies. ‘For this garden, we chose a fitting that has an adjustable lens meaning that it can be placed further away and yet still light the wall effectively.’

9. Give Guests A Warm Welcome By Adding Wall Lights

white front of country style house with outdoor lighting

Outdoor lighting ideas can bring life and character to the entrance to your home and when properly curated, it can transform your front porch ideas. However, with such responsibility, it can be hard to know where to start with your outdoor lighting. Consider, too, if garden security lighting needs to be part of the equation here.

‘First and foremost, ask yourself, what is the overall “feeling” that you want your front porch design to have?  The silhouette of a fixture adds interest, and should support your “vision”.  Consider quality, buy quality lighting whenever you can. Also, decide if you want the lighting to pop and stand out or be more quiet,’ says designer Nikki Amodio.

‘For this project, my goal was to create a “white out” monochromatic design and focus instead on textural shapes. I am always interested in mixing vintage into a design. I chose classic white porcelain enamel coated vintage style fixtures  from Barn Light Electric Company.’

10. Use Solar Lights To Create A Cozy Spot For Al Fresco Dining

illuminated patio area with wooden furniture and hedges

When it comes to deck lighting ideas, think of ways to frame the space. If your patio is flanked by walls or planting, integrate solar powered lanterns for a decorative yet practical touch. Doing so transforms your patio into a pretty evening vista even when not in use, as it will draw the eye to this garden oasis.

‘Select landscape lights that will blend in with plants and highlight the planting without drawing attention to the lights themselves,’ says Mark Feldman of Riverbed Home. ‘Space your lights organically throughout your garden. You can follow a pattern, but let your plants guide you to where you should place each light, not every plant needs to be lit.’

11. Accentuate Height In The Garden By Illuminating Tree Trunks

festive lights wrapped around trees

If your garden landscape is punctuated with several large trees, use their generous trunks as a base for your outdoor lighting ideas. Trail backyard string light ideas up the trunk of the tree to add visual height and illuminate what can otherwise be a dark and unappealing part of the night time garden. Add depth to the garden lighting scheme by opting for bulbs with different temperatures for different trees.

12. Illuminate Water Features With Lighting

illuminated stone waterfall

Garden fountain ideas bring tranquility and peace to the garden and while the sound of gently trickling water will offer a continuous soundtrack to your space, the elegant sight will disappear come nightfall. Incorporating outdoor lighting ideas into your water feature ideas brings life to the display, highlighting the movement and character that the water brings to the garden.

‘When designing your outdoor lighting ideas, use the light to accent either a rhythm of different plants, hedges and containers or to highlight particular trees, or a stack of firewood,’ says Daniel McCurry from Father Nature Landscapes of Birmingham, Alabama. ‘However, only select one feature per illumination. If you have too many featured pieces in one vista, you confuse people about what is most important.’

13. Integrate Lighting Into Your Borders To Illuminate Planting

garden at night illuminated with spotlights in the border

Gardens are defined by their borders and planting. From the shape and color of the leaves to the weaving spaces and textures of the bark, outdoor lighting ideas can accentuate these details to increase the character of your plot. ‘Blending soft, warm lights into your garden’s hedges or other soft/hard landscaping will create an atmosphere and a relaxed and sophisticated outdoor living space,’ says Paige Anderson, landscape architect at Nitido Design.

Garden lighting

When planning garden lighting, you also need to think about wildlife garden ideas. Light has a dramatic effect on wildlife, they take their cues from the rising and setting of the sun, so artificial light can throw this into flux.

‘Reduce the effect caused by your outdoor lighting ideas by positioning them as low as possible, aiming them downwards or fitting hoods to reduce how much light shines into the sky. There is some early research that shows white and blue lights are worse for wildlife, with red, yellow and green having less impact, but it very much depends on the species’, explains Charlotte Ambrose, supporter relations and experience manager at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

‘If you know there’s a bat roost nearby, or that they’re feeding in the area, then please do avoid all artificial outdoor lighting ideas if possible – bats are very sensitive!’. If you are looking for ways to encourage bats into your garden, consider building bat houses to provide them with a safe place to roost.

15. Illuminate Steps With Recessed Lights

sandstone steps with lights

Illuminating borders and steps in your garden offers practical benefits as well as aesthetic ones. Steps can be illuminated from above, below or from the side.

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