Garden Lighting

For many, garden lighting consists of turning on the patio light or lighting a candle - but with a little imagination, you can turn the humblest garden into an enchanted night-time wonderland.

Garden lighting is all about creating different moods in a garden but the garden you have dictates the mood that you can create. The actual choice of lights you buy will be determined by the considerations below and, of course, by your budget. For best results, contact a lighting consultant. We spoke to Sydney-based Giles Tweedie.

Garden's function
The first consideration when deciding how to light your garden is to ask yourself what your garden's function is. Is it art to look at or is it a playground to romp in? If the garden is art, the lights will have to be placed with aesthetic considerations in mind, whereas in a child's playground, the lights will have to be positioned with safety in mind. Will there be lots of people running through it, or not? If you plan to eat in your garden, there has to be enough light to eat by. If you want to walk through your garden at night, the path has to be well-lit enough so that you don't trip over things.

View the garden
Next, how do you plan to view your garden? Is the main perspective going to be from inside looking out, from a deck or balcony, or from within the garden itself? The perspective will again influence the position of the lights.

Secondly, look at your plants. The density, width and height of the plants will influence the choice of lighting. For example, a dense conifer will not allow light to filter through and give a moody effect and therefore will look best with a spotlight. A mature deciduous tree will, on the other hand, look better with wide lighting, which gives a ghostly light. These lights need to be very powerful, however, and do get very hot, so they should only be used in areas where children will not risk running into them... Fibre-optic lights will pick out individual flowers, leaves or rocks and create a more dramatic mood. Also, consider the growth-rate of the plant, as a fast growing plant will need adjustable lighting.

Finally, ask yourself what you want to hide (the trash) and what you want to highlight (the pool/a tree). Pick out the elements that are worthy of highlighting with light.

Common mistakes

  • Don't over-light - just pick out the key elements and keep it simple.
  • Beware of the neighbours - don't spill over into their garden. A lot of people prefer darkness in their garden and you should take care not to pollute their space.

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