By Your Call Publishing | ,

Blue Daisy Garden Diary - April/May 23

Spotlight On Garden Lighting by Nicki Jackson

Just as a well-positioned lamp or two can transform a room at night into an atmospheric, cosy space; so too can a garden be transformed after dark by some well-considered garden lights. So many of us desert our outdoor space when the sun goes down but with such an array of gorgeous lighting options to choose from your night-time garden can be just as enticing as your indoor space.

There are generally two main reasons for using lighting in the garden, the first is usually about functionality, lighting the way so we can see where we’re going and can get to our destination safely – think steps, pathways, entries and exits, etc; and the second is all about atmosphere and aesthetics – think dining areas, cosy corners, key feature lighting, shadow play, etc. Whatever the motivation though, less tends to be very much more when it comes to garden lighting, the more subtle and discreet your light choices, the more atmospheric and dramatic the outcome will be.

When it comes to the types of lighting available, if you’re at the point of creating your garden it’s always worth laying the foundations for a wired system at the time of build, in the form of armoured cable, whether you’re planning to use it initially or not. ‘Good practice’ recommends a depth of 600mm for armoured cable – it’s not something you’d want to retrofit when your garden is complete!  You don’t necessarily need it for armoured cable but if you can also install conduit too it will help future proof your garden since it will allow for the replacement of cables as and when technology improves and/or safety standards change. It’s also worth taking photos of the route of your armoured cable/conduit for future reference. Make sure to include permanent reference points in your photos so the cable can be found as and when it’s needed too, it can save a lot of headaches further down the line!

Of course, wired lighting systems aren’t the only options available for outdoor use and solar powered and/or battery powered lights are great alternatives. Whichever type you use make sure that your chosen models are IP rated for outdoor use. IP stands for Ingress Protection and garden lights need to be robust enough to deal with both solid particles and moisture. For non-submerged lights we specify IP65 for our garden designs. We also specify a warm white Kelvin value for lights we use – this is usually around 2700K which gives a lovely warm glow to the lighting but if whiter, cooler light is required then higher Kelvin values will be needed; a good thing to bear in mind though is not to mix warm and cool lights. LED lights are our preference too and are a great choice for the garden, wired or not, since they are able to provide brightness without requiring a lot of power.

With some of the basic considerations of garden lighting out of the way the fun can now begin; deciding what to light and how to light it to create the look and feel we’re aiming for.

What we light might be things like steps, pathways, key plants, water features, art, dining areas, etc.

How we light something is where we can be creative. Take a tree for example, there are almost endless ways to light it. Uplighting in the form of a single spike light for instance can add a dramatic wow factor feel to a key structural plant like a tree and various permutations can be used to give different effects by varying the positioning, angle, strength and/or colour of that single light. But a completely different feel can be achieved by stringing festoon lights through the canopy of the tree or wrapping fairy lights around and up the stem and branches of it. Hang tea lights from those branches and another entirely different effect is created, or aim a spotlight at it from behind to create a dramatic silhouette or from the side to cast its shadow against a wall or fence.

Whichever way you choose to light your garden we guarantee it will be an illuminating experience!

© Nicki Jackson, Blue Daisy Gardens 2023