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How do I plan my garden lighting?

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Isn’t it great that now we can enjoy our gardens by night as well as by day?

Once restricted to floodlights or security lighting, outdoor illuminations are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are fast becoming an integral part of every well-designed garden. Over the years we’ve gathered lots of outdoor lighting tips from the landscapers we’ve worked with. But before we enlighten you, here’s a simple introduction to how to plan for your garden lighting. 

Lighting Techniques

There are four main garden lighting techniques. Uplighting creates dramatic effects by giving trees and shrubs depth and contour. Downlighting – usually used for safety or security – involves placing fittings high and illuminating the ground. Path lighting incorporates the use of low-level shielded lights for the areas around paths, borders and steps. These cast symmetrical light patterns onto the ground. Spotlighting highlights features by directing an intense beam of light.

So the first thing you have to think about is what you want your garden lights for. Do you want to illuminate the whole garden, or just individual trees or plants? Do you want to have lighting in discrete areas, such as, for example, an area for holding barbecues? How about having underwater lights to emphasize a water feature?  It’s a good idea to discuss your ideas with your garden designer and your electrician at the same time, so that your ideas can be incorporated into the whole garden design.


You’ll also need to consider what kind of electricity supply you’ll need for your garden. Will you use it for lighting only, or do you also have to make provision for a water pump? How about running electricity supplies to a garden shed or outside office, or having the facility to use a laptop outdoors? If you plan your entire electricity needs now, it will save having to dig up the garden twice.

Next choose your light fittings. Whilst lighting shops are stocking ever wider ranges of garden lights, there is yet more choice if you go to manufacturers direct. Ask your garden designer or electrician for lighting catalogues or links to relevant websites. Get samples of your chosen lights before you go ahead, but do leave plenty of time for delivery – some items take up to three weeks to arrive – and do check the returns policy before you order as some manufacturers do not accommodate returns.

Don’t forget to select your light switches. Movement-sensitive switches may be reassuring if you are security conscious, but they are more likely to be illuminated by a passing cat or fox than an intruder. Alternatively, use a sensor which measures natural light: as dusk falls your lights go on.

If we can help you with your electrical needs, please call us on 020 8451 0345.