Garden Lights – Exposing Landscape Mystery and Intrigue


Summary: Garden lighting pulls out the special beauty and hidden qualities “unseen” during the day and can only be experienced when the night garden comes alive. Garden lighting products and ideas from lighting systems, spot lights, lanterns and even fixtures that look like a pagoda together transform the nighttime garden to expand the usable garden living area.

Question: We would like to install garden lighting in our yard, but do not know if we should use solar garden lights, low-voltage lighting or hire a lighting company to do the lighting design, layout and installation. We would rather do it ourselves but want to do more than lighting the driveway and pathways. Isabel, Asheville, NC

Answer: Garden lighting helps create a new garden when the daylight turns to night. During the daytime hours a garden shows its form, the splendor of nature’s color palette and the wide array of textures.

Peering out the window into the backyard, the manicure of the lawn, flowers moving gently in breeze, the sun helping to radiate the intense rainbow of flower colors, hedges pruned to perfection and old oak trees showing their centuries of character. The sun exposes it all with no where to hide.

Night Changes Everything

As night falls on the same garden everything changes. Garden lights create a sense of mystery and intrigue and shadows become an ever-changing canvas of nature.

The depth and scope of daylight colors fade away and larger than life silhouettes now dominate the garden. The moonlight cast its reflection on the garden showing flowerbeds, walkway, walls, pools and fountains in completely displays.

A mystery, magic and special beauty comes into focus in the garden night.

Well Planned Garden Lighting Highlights “Landscape Actors”

Garden lighting when it has been well planned and designed highlights special features of a garden which may be “hidden” during the daylight hours.

Lighting can be used to spotlight and illuminate special features in the garden and leave other areas dark, much like you will find in a Broadway play where the spotlight may be on an actor while other areas of the stage are dark.

The night garden is the same as certain “landscape actors” are highlighted.

Landscape lighting can turn a small garden in the daytime to appear to have more space and a large area become more intimate and inviting, overall it creates mood and ambiance.

Practical Aspects of Garden Lighting

As you can see, lighting the garden can transform ordinary to unique, intimate, create moods and highlight special landscape features like a pool, fountain or trees. But, lighting a garden also has other practical applications as well.

By designing the lighting to suit you and the needs of your family areas can be lit for entertaining outdoors which could include a BBQ area on the patio, or having a play area for volleyball or basketball.

Probably one of the most common uses is for pathway or walkway lighting. This can be low-voltage with a 12 volt transformer or solar powered pathway lights.

Lighting a pathway not only provides “marking the way” in the garden when night falls but garden lighting also provides highlighting changes – changes in terrain, steps, and other potential “hazards” where the ground may not be level.

Safety is also a factor. By reducing or eliminating dark areas and shadows near and around the house, it can discourage potential intruders as most avoid well lighted houses.

Lighting The Landscape Garden – Take It Slow

The project of installing landscape lighting in the garden can be a DIY job. All of the layout and design can be all put together on your own. There are plenty of resources to utilize.

Do not assume that the entire lighting project must be done over a weekend. Break the job down into smaller chunks. There are a few reasons for this.

  • Different types lighting may be used. For example, lighting the walkway to the front of the house could be done with solar garden lights, where a patio that receives much less sun may need malibu lighting or low voltage lighting.
  • Different styles or materials could be incorporated to match the garden style. Everything from plastic, stainless steel, copper, brass and a host of other materials.
  • Maybe, tackle the front walkway first, then move to the patio area, swing around to the front yard and finish off lighting the back yard. It is all in your control.

On top of all that there is:

  • LED Energy-Efficient Lighting
  • Using Colored Lights
  • Uplighting, Downlighting And Moonlighting Plants
  • Finding Out Which Plants Are Best For Lighting
  • Lighting And Outdoor Insect Control
  • Using Lighting For Those Special Occasions

Take the time, do some research to discover exactly what goals you want to accomplish with garden lights and how you want it done.