Exterior Lighting- an easy guide to creatively lighting your home and garden.

Want to know more about outdoor lighting? See the definitive guide here: Definitive Guide to Outdoor Lighting.


Garden lighting has a number of functions. Firstly it increases the safety and security around your home allowing visitors to walk safely to your front door after dark and guiding you around your plot or up any steps at night.

It also acts as a deterrent to unwanted visitors as burglars tend to avoid well lit properties where they can be observed. Secondly effective garden lighting can extend your living space outdoors after dark. Sitting on the patio as the sun goes down on a summer evening with a glass of wine in hand, what could be better? And, even if it is too cold to sit outside, you can still enjoy your illuminated garden from inside your home.

Finally garden lighting can add a touch of drama to your night time garden, completely changing the atmosphere by the use of light and shadows to create magical 3D effects. The most effective garden lighting schemes combine all these aspects.

Here are OUR TOP TIPS for creating good garden lighting

  • Don’t overdo it! You are not aiming for Blackpool illuminations or an airport runway. Plan your scheme carefully and don’t be tempted to use too many different lighting effects or styles.
  • Very bright garden lighting can be garish and we would recommend keeping the more powerful floodlights and bulk head lighting for security and commercial applications.
  • Identify the different areas of your garden and how you wish to use them. Properly done, garden lighting can transform your outdoor space creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
  • There are lots of ideas and inspiration around in our towns and cities. Look at the way in which buildings and other features are illuminated at night and take these ideas home with you.
  • Backlighting can be most effective. When the back of your garden is lit, the best features of your garden will dominate the scene to create a 3D effect. Lighting trees and other features in the background, from behind, will create silhouettes in the foreground. Up lighting a hedge behind a tree or shrub will have the same effect.
  • Lighting Trees.  Large trees are always great lit up. If you have a large tree in the middle of the lawn consider recessing up-lights or using spike lights in the ground beneath the tree, and then using 2 or 3 more lights in the tree itself to highlight the canopy and illuminate the branches and different  textures. Thread fairy lights through the branches of a tree to mimic stars.
  • Seating and dining areas are best lit using down lights, as using bright up-lighting will dazzle and reduce the overall effect you want to achieve. Hang a series of outdoor pendant lights in nearby trees to create a contemporary look.
  • Lighting lawns can be tricky and they are probably best left in darkness to provide depth and as a frame for other surrounding illuminated areas.
  • Steps should always be illuminated to prevent accidents. This can be done by recessing spotlights into the walls by the steps or by using spike lights or solar lights in the ground beside the steps.
  • Decking. Outdoor low energy LED spotlights set into decking areas are simple but effective. Some well-placed garden pots beside some of the spotlights can create some interesting light and shadow effects.
  • Highlight a special feature or plant by training a spotlight onto it.
  • Position lights to “up graze” the façade of your house or fix them high up and focus the beams of light down the wall.
  • Lighting water features. Underwater lighting is most effective when the water is clear and the lights can be used to illuminate a fountain or other feature. Consider illuminating a feature or plant close to water to create a mirrored image on the surface of the water.
  • Use strings of white or coloured lights in different shapes for a fun look for parties. These are relatively cheap to buy and can be moved around as you wish.
  • Solar lighting. An alternative to using electricity. These are low in intensity and give off a soft glow. They are cheap to buy and safe. Stainless steel solar spike lights can be used to provide light by a path or around a terrace.
  • Be aware of the effects of garden lighting on wildlife and the environment.  Many animals become disorientated by artificial lighting and you can lessen the impact by aiming lights carefully and turning them off when not in use. The use of hoods over lights to direct the light downwards will reduce light pollution.
  • Use low energy and LED lights where possible.
  • Consider having sensor powered lights that come on when anyone approaches. Using timers or remote controls will allow you to control your outside lighting.
  • Use the best quality outdoor lighting that you can afford. It will offer you more options and last longer than some of the cheaper fittings. And remember you will need a registered electrician for all mains garden installations.
  • Ask experts for advise if you have commercial lighting requirements, if your in a ‘Dark Sky’ area ‘national parks’ or have bats. Experts such as The Lighting Company will be able to offer advice via email.

Helpful? Inspiring? We'd be grateful if you'd let others know!