Making Your Garden Glow – Outdoor Lighting Design for Autumn.

Our Director of Landscape Design, Mark Latchford explores the varieties of lighting to artfully illuminate outside spaces, explaining the ambience they can create.

As the nights draw in, gardens can be wonderful places to enjoy cosy evenings with family and friends – you just need the right mix of lighting, furniture and warmth.

A thoughtfully considered landscape lighting scheme can add a whole new dimension to outside spaces, particularly in autumn. By blending a mix of lighting types, you can transform seating areas, planting, pathways and trees, giving depth to your garden as well as making it easy and safe to navigate. You can also extend the feeling of space between indoor and outdoor, and it can be wonderful when viewed from the inside. Clients are always encouraged to think about a lighting design that will create a subtle, magical atmosphere while still ensuring their garden is functional.

Sustainable restored oak poolside pavilion landscape design country home
lighting around seating areas extend the use of the garden into the night

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting can give a subtle glow around key areas of a garden, such as seating areas for entertaining. Positioning the lights is important, with fittings set back to avoid ‘hot spots’ on garden features or key planting. Pointing them away from main views such as the house (when viewed from inside) or seating areas will ensure you avoid ‘light glare’ and light pollution which can be distracting and disturb wildlife. The idea is to create a soft radiance, where the light fittings are hidden away, and their effect creates an atmosphere that can look magical at night. ‘Moon lighting’ is a great technique often used to create this, with a discreet fitting strapped to a branch of a tree pointed downwards. The effect creates a larger highlighted area (similar to a streetlight) as well as creating interesting shapes on the ground by shadow play.

hidden downlights create a functional and ambient setting around seating areas
discreet LED stripe lights can create a warm glow under furniture and tables

Uplighting & Under Lighting.

Uplighting is a useful – and if desired – dramatic technique to highlight the focal points in a garden. Usually situated at ground level, these upward-facing lights can be orientated at the architectural or planting features, for example to allow dappled light to be thrown through plants creating interesting shadows of features or walls. In contrast, ‘wash’ uplights are more diffused with softer edges on the beam and great for illuminating walls, pathways and subtly showcasing small plants and shrubs.

Lighting mature trees can create depth and scale. Trees with an open-limbed structure – such as ash, oak and willow – work well with light sources installed away from the base of the trunk where the light can illuminate a larger area of branches and create beautiful silhouettes.

Solar Lights & Sculptures.

Supplementary sources such as festoon lights can work well to highlight a path or define a seating area. They offer an inexpensive, low-intensity option with no wiring therefore portable, and can also be useful in lantern-style options for tables.
Lighting sculptures can bring gardens to life when the sun sets. Candles, lanterns and an open fire all add a cosy focal point, while outdoor festoon lights create a romantic atmosphere when hung around arbours, over trees or around seating.

And Not to Forget…

Plan your lighting design from the start of a landscaping project, so that the cable conduits, fuse boards and lighting docks can be planned and installed as the hard landscaping is undertaken. This will give the most beautiful final aesthetic and avoid late costs or disruption.

Dark Night Policies.

It’s worth knowing about any Planning considerations, as some councils opt to implement a ‘Dark Night’ policy to reduce light pollution, provide clear skies for stargazers and preserve wildlife habitats. Different local authorities have varying policies – some providing more allowances for outdoor lighting and others encouraging complete darkness.

Timber garden bench tranquil garden design
Carefully positioned lighting can create dramatic areas of ‘shadow play'

What’s Next?

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Whether you’re looking to transform your outdoor space or design an imaginative new build home or extension that links seamlessly to the surrounding grounds, we can work with you to create a space that is unique to your property and lifestyle.