Lighting – a few pointers

Lighting

The beauty of installing some carefully placed lights is that you can create a whole new look for your garden at night. You can create a fabulous outdoor room incorporating more practical lighting for outdoor entertaining during the summer months but also a theatrical set which can be viewed from the warmth of your kitchen during the long afternoons and evenings of the winter months.

A practical point, unless you are using solar fixings: even if you are not sure of the exact location of your lighting, it is worth installing the cabling when you have landscapers and diggers in. At around £2 per metre, it is not expensive and you won’t want to do this at a later date when your garden is finished. The light fixtures themselves can be expensive but, with the cabling in place, you can afford to take your time.

Above all, remember to light objects, not air! This might sound silly but you’d be surprised by the number of people that fall into this trap. A well placed light in front of a plant will make that plant look more solid. This can be particularly effective against a plain back wall, such as in an urban garden. The further from the plant the source of light is, the greater the shadow will be. This sort of lighting is best for more solid plants and topiary.

In contrast, backlighting will emphasize the insubstantiality of plants and is good for those with a light, elegant outline, such as grasses.

Remember, you need contrast – it is best to leave pools of darkness in order to emphasize the areas of light. Speaking of pools, a single source of illumination will transform a still pool of water into the perfect mirror. Lastly, when lighting pathways or steps, be sure to light using low-level, angled and recessed lights from the side in order to avoid glare.