Garden lighting can be viewed as the icing on the cake. Once a garden has everything it needs, lighting should be installed to bring it alive at night and to create a totally different atmosphere.
Why light your garden?
To make use of it at night. You can park your car, see where you are walking, entertain guests and so on.
To view from inside. A well-lit garden will provide a beautiful backdrop when it is too dark or cold to be out in it.
For security purposes. Spot-lighting and movement-activated lighting will deter burglars.
Outdoor lighting in your backyard creates visual interest and appeal, while enhancing safety and security.
Backyard lighting is generally used to fulfil any of these functions:
illuminating area for night time use, eg paths, steps, courtyard
illuminating and dramatising plant material, sculptures, and other garden features or ornaments
for highlighting water features and enhancing the effect of light on water
as a decorative element in the garden in its own right
Use low voltage and compact fluorescent lamps in fittings as they save energy and reduce running costs.
When deciding which types of lighting are needed in your backyard, consider the scale of the installation, colour and the character of the design.
Choose appropriate lighting fixtures to blend in with your garden during the daytime, or on the other hand they could be features in themselves. The lighting you choose should complement the overall landscape. Subduing the light source by placing it amongst shrubbery will create softer effects than harsh, obvious lighting. The colour of light bulb you choose will be determined by the effect you are trying to create. For example, if you are uplighting a golden cane, a yellow bulb will complement the trunk and foliage. On the other hand a blue bulb will change the colour of the foliage and may not look as effective.
Tungsten bulbs shine a yellow/white light and are very good at colour rendering.
Mercury/Fluorescent bulbs shine a green/white light and are good colour renderers.
Sodium bulbs shine a yellow light and are not suitable for colour rendering.
Fluorescent and Tungsten/Halogen bulbs shine a white light and are very good for colour rendering. Flourescent tubes are suitable for the lighting of shrubbery and are available in a range of colours including pink, blue, green and gold.
Siting lighting – consider the functional requirements as well as the light’s relationship to nearby trees and shrubs, features, buildings and light pollution to yourself and the neighbours.
Where to Use Lights in a Landscape
Amenity lighting is lighting suitable for illuminating areas of pedestrian traffic, outdoor gardens and courtyards. As such, amenity lighting can be more decorative than functional.
You can mount lights just about anywhere. Brackets can be attached to secure lights to a vast array of structures including balconies, walls and trees.
Other light fixtures can be installed along pathways, bollards, and pole tops.
Floodlighting provides night time light enhancement of exterior buildings and garden features. It can be used to illuminate lawns and seating areas for evening entertainment.
This is ideal for pinpointing special features. It can be placed beneath the object to be highlighted (up-lighting), or above it (down-lighting).
Inground Up lights
Buried up lights are available in a range of sizes and shapes. Designed to be unobtrusive and to provide a variety of lighting effects. Ideal for highlighting exterior features such as trees, water features, statues etc. They are used for recess applications and create decorative effects along paths, in walls etc. Appropriate for spotlighting. Some are designed to be driven over and are appropriate for lighting drive and walkways.
Solar Powered Lighting
These are used as stand alone garden lights, floodlights, Christmas decorations and security sensor lights.
Special Effects and Entertainment Lighting
Fibre optic and effect lighting is suitable for creative outdoor displays. Fibre optics is generally used for highlighting and outlining buildings, pools and water features, gardens and architectural features.
Special effects lighting are primarily for creating eye catching lighting effects. Features can include various colours, changing colours and dimming mechanisms.
Used in ponds, waterfalls and swimming pools. Lighting placed underwater is usually installed along the bottom so as to highlight water plants and add depth to the feature. Alternatively, lighting can be placed so as to reflect the surface of the water and produce a shimmering effect.