If you have a garden you’re proud of, I’m guessing you want to be outside and enjoying your space as much as possible – including evenings and night-time. Garden lighting is obviously key here, both for creating an inviting ambience and also for being able to see, well, anything.
The thing is, garden lighting can be more complicated than it looks. For starters, there are just so many different kinds of lights. On top of that, there are various ways to power your lights, all kinds of technical features AND having to strike the careful balance between ambient lighting, accent lighting and “task” lighting.
An exhaustive list of lighting options might be impossible, but we’re going to take a look at all of the essential things you should consider when planning your garden lighting ideas. We’ll also provide a whole bunch of pictures for you to use as inspiration – whether you want something simple, modern, or extravagant, we’ve got you covered!
Why bother planning your garden lighting scheme?
Isn’t garden lighting as simple as sticking a security light on your wall and calling it a day? Well, sure, you can do that… But illuminating your meticulously mowed lawn or beautiful blooming flowers beds with a harsh floodlight won’t do them any justice when you’re having dinner al fresco or enjoying a late-night drink outside.
Outdoor lighting can do wonders for the visual impact of your garden. With the help of some strategically placed bulbs, even the most humble outdoor space can turn into a work of art. Plan your light properly, and you’ll get the benefits of:
- Better visibility – It’ll simply be easier to see and appreciate your plants, fencing, patios, steps, lawn… Don’t you want to show off all the work you’ve put in?
- A warmer (or cooler) ambience – Warm whites and subtle yellow tones in your lights feel romantic, and can fool your brain into thinking your garden is somewhere warmer than it actually is. Bright white and blue-infused lights help your contemporary, minimalist garden look crisp and chic.
- Safety improvements – Lighting steps, borders, planters and other trip-hazards is really just basic safety. Plus, a brightly-lit garden provides security at night, acting as a deterrent against opportunist intruders. Take a look at more garden security tips.
- A boost to your curb appeal – combine showcase lighting with our front garden ideas to literally shine a spotlight on your home’s attractiveness.
- Increased property value – Not only will attractive lighting make your garden generally appear more luxurious, if you install in-built lighting it can add real value to your property.
- Enhanced landscaping – Lighting up your outdoor space will complement the landscape by highlighting all their details.
What to look for in garden lighting components
With so many unique features and designs available, start by looking for lights that you like aesthetically, and that match the style of your home and garden. Remember – you don’t have to limit yourself to just one design; you can mix and match several kinds of lights to work collectively. Here are some elements to look for when choosing lights for your home garden:
- Low voltage lights – low voltage ambient lighting will help you keep your bills down longer-term.
- Weather-proof – Make sure your lights are rated for outdoor use and withstand rain, snow and summer heat.
- Motion sensors – a common feature of security lights, motion-activated lighting means it’s on when you need it (but saves you money by staying dark when you don’t).
- Directional light – Uplighters and downlighters will have dramatic effects on your garden – think carefully about which style might be more effective for the garden features you want to illuminate. For example, downlighters will show the surface of a path, while uplighters can cast striking shadows from beneath trees and within flower beds.
- Multi-colour – Are you going for white, fluorescent light or something warm and golden? If you want to experiment with multiple colours, look for lights that you can customise on-the-go!
- Timers – Lights with in-built timers are another way to conserve energy and reduce bills. They’re more useful that motion-sensor lights if you tend to sit still in the evenings.
- Transformers – For more powerful electric lights, using a transformer outside will help you manage the wattage with easy access.
33 inspiring garden lighting ideas
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to look at some different ways lighting can impact your garden. Whether you want something simple or are prepared to invest in some serious luxury, we’ve included garden lighting ideas for every kind of home and budget. Take a look at our four categories below: Simple lighting, practical lighting, patio/deck lighting and luxurious lighting.
Simple garden lighting ideas
Spending time on a garden lighting plan doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be spending big bucks when it comes to implementing it. There are plenty of ways to use inexpensive, everyday items you might already have at home, and lots of DIY lighting options, too. If you’re interested in sustainability and creativity, you might like some of these simple garden lighting ideas.
Solar stake lighting
Solar lighting isn’t especially powerful, but it’s so easy to install and relatively low maintenance. The only thing you really have to worry about is putting the lights where you want them, and ensuring the solar panel is in a spot that gets plenty of daylight. These pretty, sparkler-like garden lights are solar powered.
Hanging lanterns in trees and on fences behind greenery can give your garden a whole new personality. Choose wrought iron lanterns to evoke Spanish-style gardens, or intricately cut metal for a boho aesthetic. Paper lanterns can add a zen-like charm, emulating the traditional lanterns found across Asia. Depending on their size and positioning, lanterns can be both a practical and aesthetic light source.
Keep an eye out for fun, solar-powered lanterns and garden lamps, like these ones from IKEA. Mix and match bright colours and textures to add a tropical, playful mood to your outdoor seating area (take a look at more tropical garden ideas).
Instead of packing your fairy lights away with the Christmas decorations, put them to use in your garden (as long as they’re rated for safe outdoor use!) You can weave them around tree branches for an instantly magical effect, or fix them to a pergola or gazebo to add an inviting twinkle to your seating area.
Another option is to coil your fairy lights up inside a container (like a lantern or glass vase). As you can see, the effect is very pretty – like fireflies in a bottle – but not especially bright. Perfect for a magical, enchanted garden.
Festoons, or string lights, offer a similar, mellow ambience. By stringing them across sections of your garden, you can draw attention to areas you want highlighted. For example, they’re perfect for pathways, awnings, pergolas and fencing. Shrubs are also excellent for holding lights – just cover each shrub so they collectively create a dazzling display that you can appreciate even at a distance.
Candles make for cosy, cost-effective lighting, and look beautiful in any style of garden. Keep them safe from the breeze by housing them in tea light holders, lanterns or even mason jars.
Candles only offer limited light, but if you only have a small space (like this balcony), that might not matter. Grouping different sizes of candle looks super sophisticated – especially when they’re all the same colour.
This pretty cluster of tealights brings a sense of Moroccan garden style and boho beauty. If you choose to use tealights and candles outdoors, consider that identical candle holders can look sleek and minimalistic, while mixing and matching adds eclectic personality.
2-in-1 garden lighting
Looking for some more practical garden lighting ideas? What about a 2-in-1 garden feature like these planter lights? The soft glow is perfect for creating ambience, but the pots themselves are beautifully contemporary.
You can also get solar powered stools, tables and ornaments – many with a colour-changing functionality to bring some fun into your garden nightscape.
Pretty-but-practical garden lighting
Lighting will always fall into one of three categories: ambient lighting (which sets the mood), accent lighting (that highlights specific features) and task lighting (so you can see what you’re doing).
As we said earlier, getting the right balance of all three is the secret to a subtly successful lighting scheme. Task lighting can often get left behind as the “boring” part, but as we’re just about to see, it’s perfectly possible for your garden lights to be practical and pretty.
These strings of LED lights are simple but effective at lighting the way up these steps. You can buy these kinds of light cables inexpensively, and stapling them into wood is a fairly straightforward job.
This is a similar idea, but with the LED strips tucked underneath each step like downlighters. You’d need to have the right kind of decking, but this looks pretty cool.
Combining different types of lightning gives you maximum brightness and visibility. In this garden, integrated floor lights mark the edge of the path, while the posts cast a broader glow.
Stake lights are a conventional way to light your garden path, but you don’t have to choose a conventional shape. These pretty, art-deco style lanterns add some visual interest while guiding the way.
Flower bed lighting
These glowing orbs look both modern and ethereal, accenting the organic structure of the tree and the beautiful texture of the surrounding pebbles.
This Glasgow garden is using directional lighting beautifully. The lamps along the fence are high enough to keep the lawn lit, but focus most of the attention on the manicured flower beds below.
Even if you have a more industrial aesthetic, you can still find beautiful garden lighting ideas. This concrete bench is softened by the warm glow coming from beneath.
Lights can sometimes be their own art installation. Look for standalone lights in an unusual shape or colour to create an unexpected focal point in your garden after dark. I was delighted to discover this cube-shaped light – so simple, but so quirky! It looks like a giant ice cube just chilling in the flower bed, and I love the way it contrasts against the organic shapes of the surrounding plants.
Being able to see everything that’s between the street and your front door isn’t just convenient – it’s part of feeling safe and secure as you move around your home at night. These dramatic downlighters on the side of a garage not only look fancy, they’ll illuminate trip hazards and make it difficult for trespassers to sneak around unseen.
Electric lights can still feel traditional – take this lantern, for example. Surrounded by ivy, the black metal and vintage-style bulb creates a very rustic feel that’s in-keeping with the building it’s attached to.
Lighting for garden decks and patios
Patios and decks are typically the social space in your garden. It’s the place you want to be hanging out, eating, drinking and socialising, so it needs a good amount of lighting to accommodate you and your guests. Whether your patio is next to your house, at the end of your garden, against a fence or beneath a shelter, there are plenty of ways to keep it bright and inviting.
This outdoor dining area is simple, but so incredibly romantic. Combined with the thick blanket of vines, the delicate orb lights hanging from the pergola look almost like magical grapes or fireflies. The crisp white tablecloth and fresh cut flowers are the finishing touches to this Italian-style garden space.
String lights and gazebos are a match made in heaven. This modern seating area is perfectly lit – bright, but still warm and welcoming. If you want to create a similar effect, look for “curtain” style fairy lights, which are the kind that hang down in separate strings like this.
Fire pits are the ultimate addition to any patio or deck, providing welcoming light and literal warmth. This patio in Hertfordshire has combined their fire pit with fairy lights on the fence, beautiful lanterns, an outdoor floor-lamp and an incredible LED parasol.
Yet another fire pit – this time showing how, sometimes, you don’t need much more light (especially if your garden is small). That being said, hats off to the inclusion of hidden uplighters to showcase that gorgeous bamboo!
Here is another example of how a combination of lights can give you the perfect balance of practicality and style. The spotlights at the back of the pergola offer task lighting, the wall lights are pretty accent lights and the integrated deck lights highlight what a beautiful feature it is.
This classic patio has hidden lights in the floor, fence and flower beds. This tasteful combination spotlights the most stylish features without the light fixtures stealing the show.
When your main outdoor seating area is next to the house, you can often “borrow” the internal lights through the window. This lets you stick to something more ambient outside. The festoons above this dining table are fun and inviting.
Okay, this photo definitely falls into our next category of “luxury garden lighting”, but it’s still technically a deck. I adore these sunken seating areas (I believe they were called “conversation pits” when they were popular in the 60s and 70s). Having the light running all the way round – and up the stairs – is really gorgeous, and something you could easily use on a more “humble” patio or deck area. Of course, the four-sided couch and the SWIMMING POOL don’t hurt the luxury vibe.
Luxury lighting for a glamorous garden
If you’ve got grand garden architecture and a large outdoor space to work with, you have the opportunity to create a seriously deluxe lighting setup. The best part is that it doesn’t have to be too expensive to be impressive. Here are some of our favourite luxurious landscape lighting design ideas that will have your neighbours green with envy!
If the architecture of your home is particularly unusual or modern, look for garden lighting to match. These path lights offer just the right blend of style and substance with their intriguing (but understated) design.
If you’ve gone to the effort of installing a water fountain, make sure it’s a focal point both day and night. Well-lit water has a hypnotising quality, transforming it into a dramatic sculpture once the sun sets.
This includes ponds! Shining lights across the surface or putting waterproof lights between reeds are both beautiful ways to make your pond look serene after dark. Fancy making your own home cinema? Take a look at our tips!
How cosy does this garden hot tub look? The in-built lights provide an understated elegance, and provide practical lighting for the deck as well as ambient lighting for the tub.
If you’ve got some cash to splash, you could invest in Hue smart bulbs for all of your garden fixtures. You’ll be able to customise your lighting scheme to your perfect settings, and change the mood at the tap of your phone. They have other perks too, like switching on and off based on your proximity, or being able to control them when you’re not home (to make it seem like you are).
Have I lost my mind, or is this giant Anglepoise lamp REALLY cool? Maybe it’s excessive, but considering it’s made from marine-grade materials, it could be the last outdoor lamp you ever have to buy. Mind you, it’ll set you back a cool £3300!
Sometimes luxury comes from creating drama with your light fittings. Angled lights are perfect for this; point them at unusual plants for striking shadows, or through tree branches to project a mosaic of light behind. A brick wall and some planters might not seem very exciting, but adding spotlights immediately conjures a sense of theatre.
As you can see, there are so many ways you can use lighting to add to your garden’s personality and aesthetic. Hopefully these ideas have shown how different styles of lighting work together to create ambience and help you enjoy everything your outdoor space can offer after dark.
Whether you’re looking for garden lighting ideas on a budget or are planning to invest in a major garden overhaul, a bit of planning and creativity can go a long way. While there is always a place for practical task lighting, your garden deserves so much more than a harsh floodlight to illuminate its beauty! Accent lighting and ambient lighting are all about giving your garden style and depth – whether you’re working with a tiny courtyard or luxurious lawn!
Once you start thinking about how to showcase your outdoor space, we’re sure you’ll start seeing your garden… in a whole new light.