How to create a fun and functional lighting scheme so that you can enjoy your garden day and night
Extend your enjoyment of your outside space into the hours of darkness with an outdoor lighting scheme.
Experiment with colour coordination. You can change effects by swapping tinted filters, or go for remote controlled colour-changing devices.
- Cast coloured light on subjects in the opposite spectrum of the colour wheel (eg. red/magenta filters on green foliage) for maximum effect
- Grade intensity from one end of a border to the other
- Soften white and silver subjects with a champagne filter
- Don’t mix red, blue and green filters within the same scheme as it fragments the space
The system you use, size and style of light fitting, and type of lamp depends on the area or feature to be illuminated.
- Uplight a large tree with a high power metal halide
- Miniature 12V adjustable spotlights will fit the scale of smaller feature plants
- Calculate the distance from the subject and angle of the beam when specifying brightness
- Ensure that the beam fits the shape that it’s cast onto
Check that you’re not wasting intensity by casting a beam too high or too wide. The glare could also irritate neighbours.
Solar lighting is getting better but is still not as bright or controllable as cabled lighting. The new generation of electric lamps ensure greater energy efficiency in the garden.
Alternatively, you could try rechargeable garden and outdoor table lights, or glowing globes floating on a pool.
However, the battery requires several hours to charge up fully which may not allow for a spontaneous garden party.
Weatherproof or Waterproof
To increase the lifespan of your lighting, select the correct IP (Ingress Protection) rating. This is denoted by a two-digit number which indicates the degree of weather or waterproofing of the product.
The first digit indicates protection from solids (dust, insects etc.) and the second refers to liquid ingress. For instance, IP68 is pretty waterproof, good enough to submerge or float in a pool, or bury in the ground (provided the device is surrounded by plenty of shingle, through which water can drain).
When it comes to transformers note that some are suitable for fixing to a wall or post in a vertical position, and others for lying on a surface. Beware of cheap transformers designed for indoor use only. If you must use one, fix it in an outdoor shed, and send cables out through the wall.
Too often, garden lighting installations are undertaken as DIY projects, or by electricians more used to interior electrics.
To ensure safety:
- Use armoured cabling or reinforced conduit at the required depth (450mm below the surface)
- In Canada you need your electrician to provide a Part P certificate to comply with Building Regulations.