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Landscapers advice on outdoor lighting for garden designs (Part 2)

When you have decided you are going to install garden lighting, there are a few things to consider-

  1. Switching position
  2. Power type
  3. Tips for garden lighting
  4. Lighting effect
  5. Light material
  6. Light Type
  7. Bulb Type

The first two I covered in part 1. Now I will go on to discuss no.3.

3.Tips for garden lighting

The first thing you need to do is to create an outdoor lighting plan. This should cover the lighting effects you are trying to achieve. Decide on the features or areas you want to light including decking, paths and driveways, patios and terraces, Pergolas, arches and gazebos, Planting and shrub borders, Statues and focal points, steps, trees and water features. A good idea is to buy a torch which when twisted at the top gives a floodlight or spotlight effect and play around with this at night to create different moods and effects. The following are other things to consider-

Paint a picture with light and shade: When designing your scheme try to think of it in its entirety, rather than as separate parts. All the elements should fit together and be in balance. Remember that things visible in the day can be left in darkness, so you have the opportunity to make dramatic changes to your visible landscape.

Less is more: Shadow is as important to your scheme as light, so dont try to light everything. Instead retain some mystery. Also keep it subtle- very bright garden lighting can look brash and artificial.

Hide the light source: It is the lighting effect you want to see, not the fitting. So wherever possible, hide the light source – behind a shrub, perhaps a rock, a pot or a wall.

Experiment with lighting effects: Try throwing shadow onto walls, creating reflections in ponds or using backlighting to create interesting effects. The possibilities are endless.

Create a scene: Create a different look with outdoor garden lighting at night compared with the appearance during the day. The night view will often be more dramatic than the day view. We use the term picking out for selecting what you want to highlight-at night you will only see what you illuminate, not the surrounding area.

Create depth: Give your lighting scene a 3 dimensional effect by illuminating the background as well as foreground features. You will need more then one light for this, however the effect will be much more dramatic.

Wattage and beam angles: The wide range of beam angles, wattages and options such as frosted lenses means you can tailor each light source to create a precise effect.

Quality: Use the highest quality equipment and materials your budget will allow.

Avoid glare: Angle the light beams away from your lines of sight. Where this is not possible use glare reducing accessories such as glare guards.

Careful placement: Avoid installing garden lights under or within low shrubs or tall grasses. The beam of light needs a clear path from light source to the focal point. With garden lights the light source needs to be positioned so you are not looking directly at the light.

Placing near plants: If your installing lights in the winter, remember that your herbaceous plants will grow much larger in the summer. Try to avoid placing lights where they will be swamped.

Maintenance: Keep your lights looking good. With stainless steel regular washing will remove stains from salt spray etc. With timber bollards you should re-stain when they get faded.

Taking care of your cable: Avoid accidental damage by keeping your cable on the surface where it is visible or bury close to walls out of reach from spades.

Heat: Halogen light sources generate a lot of heat so care should be taken when considering there location, particularly at low levels where little hands can pry or pets sniff.