Lighting adds a completely new dimension to gardens. Particularly in the often somewhat cloudy climes of England, a well thought out lighting system can be a great addition to a garden.
It adds the ability to enjoy your garden when it’s normally hidden in darkness – whether entertaining outside on a warm summer’s evening, or looking out from the warmth of the house on a cold winter’s night.
Lighting systems and their installations can be pricey, so it’s well worth spending time thinking things through carefully before embarking on your project. For complex lighting systems, it is normally worth consulting a specialist garden lighting company for advice. But in most domestic situations, a professional garden landscaper can work with you & a qualified electrician to design and install beautiful and highly functional systems.
What is the lighting for?
Not surprisingly, this is a rather important consideration. The answer will help determine the type of lighting you need. For example:
- You may simply want to light a general area, in which case bollards, spotlights, and simple up / down lights are some of the options to consider.
- If you want to be able to eat, read and perform more detailed tasks, downlighting can work very well (a spot light fixed to a wall, pergola or fence post, for example).
Paths and steps normally require light to be directed down and across the area to be walked, so mushroom (spread) lights and spots are often used. Consider having lights recessed into the walls of steps.
- Spike lights are very useful and provide added flexibility, as they can be moved to a certain degree.
- Lighting in gardens is also frequently used simply for beautiful effects. This is where garden lighting comes into its own and can be magical. Consider uplighting trees, backlighting plants, washing walls and silhouetting features.
More often than not, some combination of task and effect lighting is employed. The old adage of ‘less is more’ really does apply here though – unless of course you are looking to re-create Aladdin’s Cave!
- Always use a qualified electrician to connect the garden lighting to the household circuit
- Consider whether you want low voltage or mains lighting. The pros and cons, given the specific garden situation, should be discussed with a qualified electrician. Mains lighting is very flexible, and relatively safe if used correctly. Low voltage lighting is very safe, and because a number of lights can be run off one transformer, it can sometimes reduce the amount of cabling required.
- LED lamps / bulbs appear to be the way forward. They are expensive, but last a long time. The technology is still evolving though, so you may need a system which can cater for a mix of lighting, and fittings which can be converted to LED lamps in future. Flexibility is important.
- Think about how bright the lamps need to be in the various areas of the garden, and what colour lamps are required. There are various shades of white – most ALDA clients prefer a soft or warm white… beware of lighting schemes that make you garden look like the nearest Tesco car park!
- If you are not sure whether or not you want lighting when having a new garden or patio built, it would still be worth installing some conduit / ducting under the patio (with a drawstring) while it is being laid. This may save digging up the patio at a later date…
- Think about where you would like to control the lights from, and how many different lighting circuits are required – i.e. which lights you will want to control with the same or different switches.
- If security lighting is also being installed, we would recommend having it on a separate switch, so that it can be turned off. Having a security light continually flicking on and off when entertaining with friends and family is not particularly conducive to a relaxing evening!
I hope that gives you some ideas and inspiration – do give us a call if you’d like to discuss your lighting scheme. Our telephone number is 0118 934 2958.