Let there be light!

Illuminate your garden at night

Gardens are increasingly seen as an extension of the living space. And why not? Families spend a lot of time and money to beautify and landscape their gardens. Many spend hours outside every night breathing in the fresh air and basking in the tranquillity of their private little oasis under the glow of the full moon. And therein lies the problem. Activities in the garden at night are limited by the lack of lighting. Thankfully, we’re not living in the 17th century – electricity and mass production means this is a simple problem to overcome.

Light up your garden

The sky during sunsets, with its soft hues of orange and vermillion, looks simply breathtaking, right? You should use that as a template when designing a lighting scheme for your garden. Do not use sharp and flat colours, as they will appear stark and garish. Instead, use a combination of soft colours in different spectrums to give a warm and comfortable ambience to your outdoor space. For instance, choose warm white instead of cool white for a softer, gentler base. Avoid strong colours like red and blue. As mentioned above, use softer versions of the colours to create a deep, textured look on your walls and walkways. If you have a water fountain or statue, use indirect lighting to accentuate and spread the colours. Be wary of shadows created by patios, lawn furniture or foliage – these can ruin a lot of work done during the day. If you have a pool, use underwater lights to create magnificent bursts of soft lighting – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the mood shifting properties of underwater lights. Be brave and experiment – you’re an artist now, like Van Gogh, but with two ears. However, instead of using a paper and a brush, you’re using LED lights and a garden.

Don’t overcrowd or over-light your garden

Do not overdo the lighting in your garden. For example, placing a lamp below a plant and angling it upwards will enhance the appearance of the plant. However, using the same technique repeatedly will lessen the impact, and might even drown out more intimate colour combinations elsewhere. You’re not trying to create a discotheque here! Be judicious when using floating water lamps – they can make your pool or fountain look tacky. Similarly, spotlights can help make lush trees look like a million bucks. Using too many of them, however, can turn your garden into an open-air hall and destroy the atmosphere you’ve worked so hard to create. Don’t be afraid to use candles and tea lights to mix things up a little. They can create a very cosy ambience when used on tables and pathways – just make sure there are no fire hazards around.

Safety and sustainability

When doing any lighting improvement project in your garden, please make sure that you hire a certified electrician to do the grunt work. This will ensure the safety of you, your family and your guests. On your part, please double-check the work of the electrician, especially after any new changes are made to the layout of the garden. Please ensure that the cabling and wiring are properly insulated, kept away from heavy foot traffic areas, and well protected from rodents and insects. In addition, please use waterproof light fittings to eliminate the risk of accidental electrocution. Aside from that, you can help to reduce your environmental footprint by only using LED lights. Not only do they consume less energy compared to halogen lights, they also last a lot longer. It may seem like such a small thing, but the energy savings will add up over the long run. Imagine if all the families in your neighbourhood also started using LED lights!

As always though, err on the side of caution. Darkness has its own appeal, so not every inch of your backyard needs to be lighted up. Often, less can be more. Spare a thought for your neighbours as well – you don’t want your lights to turn their home into a kaleidoscope. So be a considerate neighbour and ask about their opinion and well-being when testing out your new garden lights.