By Ellen Finch
These garden lighting ideas will be sure to add that all-important glow at dusk. It's not one to overlook, as with the right lighting, you can really transform your space. Experiment with various styles for different areas. Think spotlights on steps, uplighting on trees, or cosy lanterns around outdoor seating, for example. Your evening garden will look magical in no time!
Choose the right lighting and you can quickly add interest to a patio space, highlight key features such as your favourite plants, draw attention to a garden pergola that's set up for alfresco dining or even create warmth in a shadowy corner of the garden. The best outdoor lights will allow you to spend more time outdoors in your garden too, which is even more important at this time of year when the days are shorter.
To help you transform your space so you can get a better view of your garden from indoors and out, we've rounded up everything from on-trend festoon lights and pretty fairy lights to more practical designs to light pathways and doors. Keep reading for our top ideas and to find your perfect garden lighting scheme.
1. Hang LED tealights from trees
For soft, twinkly lighting opt for LED jars, which can be hung from tree branches for a magical touch. Not only do they look lovely, they make a great alternative to candles, as you won't need to worry about the safety precautions of open flames.
2. Try caged shades for industrial chic style
Caged hanging lights are great to add a touch of urban chic to your patio or seating area. The modern design not only looks stylish, it also allows the light to create interesting shadows on nearby walls as it shines through.
Why not invest in two or three for maximum impact? These versions from Cox & Cox are solar panelled too, so no need to worry about wiring electrics!
3. Introduce light-up sculptures
You can now find garden lighting solutions which double up as stunning works of art – just look at this example from Sarah Raven. Turn your garden into a fairytale with this beautiful hogweed design with twinkly lights at its tips. It's bound to be admired by guests when entertaining alfresco.
4. Use reflections to up the wow
Be creative and design a completely different look for your garden at night. Throw a net of LED lights over a hedge or pergola to create a magical look for parties and other alfresco get-togethers. It's so easy to do and takes only a few minutes to set up.
Then, use reflections to enhance the magical effect and add to the shimmer. All you need is something like a decorative metal screen or polished tiles to pick up the reflections. You can achieve the same look with water feature ideas or garden mirror ideas.
5. Make a feature of your hedges
Add interest to a wall of foliage by using LED net lights. They create a twinkling border and help to soften the dense look of hardy planting like hedging.
The nets are so fine that you won't be able to tell they're there, even in daylight – so all you'll notice is the gentle shine of the LED bulbs come evening.
6. Or light up your tree for a magical effect
Trees are a valuable part of any garden, providing structure and a focal point around which planting schemes are designed. Make the most of yours by draping it with string lights. It creates a magical scene at night when the leaves and branches come to life in the light's glow.
7. Create atmosphere while you’re dining alfresco…
One of the key purposes of garden lighting is to help zone your plot, highlighting key areas like living/dining spaces.
If you love eating and hosting outdoors, thinking carefully about your dining lighting scheme is important. You want to create atmosphere while also providing enough light for people to see the delicious spread you've cooked up.
We like this idea of having string lights wrapped around a simple metal bar to create a centrepiece for your outdoor dining ideas. It's simple, yet so effective.
8. …or up the cosy factor in an outdoor living room
Atmosphere is as important outdoors as it is in your house. So, make sure you're planning the lighting scheme for your outdoor living area with cosiness in mind.
Use lights, lanterns or candles to create a warm glow that provides a soft light, similar to that of gently flickering candles. We love how this setup uses festoon string lights for simple style.
9. Use festoon lights for modern charm
Perhaps one of the easiest types of outdoor lighting to get hold of – and to style – festoon lights are a popular choice for gardens.
They can be hung up over an outdoor seating area or strung along a fence to provide lighting all the way around the garden. Plus, their minimal, slightly bohemian-inspired style goes with any space, whether yours is a traditional garden or an industrial-style landscape.
10. Light up fences or walls with wall lanterns
The glow of wall lanterns gives a warm welcome when they're hung outside a front door, but you can get the same good feeling by using them at the back of the house too.
Try framing your back door with them, or attach them to a freshly painted fence – we love this Dusky Gem shade from Cuprinol – to show off your handiwork.
11. Choose lanterns for atmosphere
Outdoor spaces used for relaxation and entertaining can be lit in a similar way to indoors with sleek low-level lamps.
Choose a style that throws out a calming ambient light to add a little hygge to your patio space when it comes to downtime.
You can always use lanterns as a test run – work out how you want to light different areas and see what effects you can achieve. After experimenting, you may decide that LED lanterns grouped together is all you need!
12. Go for a group of designs for added impact
Lanterns give off such a lovely soft glow and you can rest assured you won’t need to keep rebuying pillar candles for this Fraser Grey bamboo lantern duo from Lights4Fun.
They each come with a TruGlow candle that runs off batteries, plus there's a six-hour timer so you can set them to come on just as dusk falls. Perfect.
13. Pendants aren’t just for indoor use
It's perfectly possible to bring any element of indoor lighting outdoors, as long as you're using a product with the right specifications. Case in point: pendant lights, which look amazing hung above a dining table or seating area and make a space feel more like a room of its own.
This dining area could be mistaken for an indoor scene thanks to the combination of rugs, potted plants and those pendants.
14. Create a welcoming glow
Nothing says welcome home quite like a warm glow. Use lights to enhance your front porch ideas and create a soft subtle effect that brings one or two elements into focus like a door or window.
Remember that when it comes to front garden ideas, flooding the space with harsh light doesn't look great and won't win you any friends among your neighbours.
Opt for more of a theatrical effect by emphasising one or two key things and leaving everything else in shadow. It also adds kerb appeal by showing off your house in the best light.
15. Add structural lighting with posts
If you have a long or wide garden path that could do with some lighting – whether that's because it's a key part of the space or because it leads to a living or dining area – consider adding statement style with some posts. Best for structured gardens and larger plots, they're practical as well as super stylish.
16. Or keep it subtle with stakes
Smaller, more slimline stake lights are also a great choice for lighting pathways, and they can also be used to great effect in between planting to highlight favourite flowers or bring attention to a container garden.
These ones are solar powered, so they can be placed anywhere in the garden without the worry of having to switch them on and off each night. Read our guide to the best solar lights to find out more.
17. Light up pathways with flush-to-the-floor lights
On a practical level, you might need garden lighting to help you and your guests make their way around your garden. If you're not keen on posts or stake lights, consider using lights that sit flush to the floor for a more subtle option.
They'll also help to highlight plants along your border, adding an extra architectural element to your space.
18. Enhance your exterior
Downlighting is good for illuminating textural qualities such as brick detailing and other architectural features. As well as lighting the way and showing off your exterior, stylish wall lights in soft metals such as brushed copper and polished brass can enhance the design aesthetic by throwing out a soft wash of light.
They take a little planning though as they need to be connected to the mains electricity supply so don't forget to factor in talking to an electrician.
Head over to our best outdoor wall lights guide for more great ideas.
19. Or try globe lights for an architectural effect
Want to make a feature of your garden lighting? This dome-shaped design from Stone Globe Lights looks like a spherical stone feature by day, but by night it lights up with a warm glow for an eye-catching architectural feature.
20. Bring the indoors out with a floor lamp
We've already sung the praises of using 'indoor' lighting in the form of pendant lights outside, but it doesn't stop there: you can even buy floor lamps designed for outdoor use.
Go for a slimline design so it'll slot into the smallest of spaces (we're looking at you, balcony owners), and if you choose a solar powered design too it won't need to be connected to your mains supply.
21. Choose a bulkhead style for an industrial look
Bulkhead outdoor lights are a great option for those who love the raw industrial style. They are inspired by nautical themes and have an aluminium shade with a gunmetal finish.
The light cascades so you can use them to highlight a particular part of the garden or to illuminate a path.
22. Hang lanterns from branches or poles for holiday vibes
One of the easiest ways to add lighting to your garden is with outdoor lanterns. With a range of styles from tealight holders to battery-powered 'candles', you can hang them from trees or place them on a table or the floor to create a hygge space in an instant.
23. Wrap string lights around a pergola to create a twinkling canopy
We've waxed lyrical about the various benefits of a pergola, but one of our favourite things about the garden structure is the opportunities it offers when it comes to garden lighting.
Hang everything from lanterns to pendant lights from its roof or create a twinkling canopy with layers of string lights. Check out our pergola ideas for more great ideas for your space.
24. Hang from a parasol for a chandelier effect
If you use a parasol for shade in a dining area, consider keeping it up at night and using it as a base from which to hang pendants.
These solar pendant lights create a chandelier effect above this dining set, but fairy or festoon lights wrapped around the pole will look equally effective.
25. Play around with different heights
Lighting is all about the layering, so add complexity to your scheme by using an assortment of designs at different vertical points of your garden.
This outdoor living space is super cosy thanks to the table lights emitting a warm glow at eye level and festoon lights overhead.
26. Opt for classic good looks
If you're after an uber stylish design that will stand out from the crowd, it's worth investing in a designer buy. The design pictured is crafted to last using century old techniques and comes in either a black or galvanised silver finish.
27. Use different bulbs for a quirky effect
If you love vintage style, try taking a mix-and-match approach to your lighting by combining multiple styles in the same area – like hanging different sizes of lanterns from a tree, for example. We love how these quirky string lights feature bulbs in a range of shapes, from round to teardrop to fluted.
28. Uplight plants for drama
Discreet lighting can create a welcoming ambience for the evening garden at any time of year. Plants take on architectural qualities when uplit, with the angled lights enhancing the shape of leaves.
Choose uplights that are either recessed into the ground or set on moveable spikes for illuminating plants and the trunks of potted trees, as they can be shifted to suit the mood. Or choose modern planters with built-in LED lighting that can be controlled with a phone app.
29. Make a playful statement with colourful lights
Add a playful edge to your lighting scheme with colourful festoon lights. Try stringing them along a garden fence to cheer up a plain backdrop, or drape around a tree for a statement display.
Done right, they can look classy rather than cheesy – stick to small doses and muted colours for the best results.
30. Wrap lights around branches
This cool LED solar lantern chain can be hung in amongst tree branches, from a parasol or woven through a trellis.
Solar powered from one panel that sits 3m from the first bulb, and when this is positioned in direct sunlight it will charge up, activate at dusk and last for six hours. It’s the perfect cost-effective way to illuminate your garden this summer!
31. Integrate lighting into your furniture to elevate a piece
If you have a piece of garden furniture you're particularly fond of, make it a focal point by framing it with fairy or festoon lights, like in this enveloping setup.
This works best for more permanent pieces like outdoor sofas and benches – try wrapping small LED lights around the back of a newly painted bench for instant charm.
32. Add a fun ornamental feature with a novelty lamp
Lovers of kitsch, pay attention: we've found the best garden lighting for those who enjoy a touch of garishness in these delightful monkey outdoor lamps from Graham & Green.
Ornament and lighting in one, place one of these on your outdoor coffee table for a great talking point.
33. Illuminate your path
For a stylish modern setting, a row of outdoor post lamps will be a striking garden feature. These designs have a nautical cage design finished in carbon and you can use them to light up pathways and driveways – no more searching for the torch!
34. Combine light and warmth with a patio heater
If you're looking for outdoor lighting, chances are you're planning on spending a decent amount of time in your garden in the summer evenings – and you'll need a heating source to stay cosy as the temperature drops.
A stylish patio heater can do two jobs at once, keeping you warm and emitting a cosy glow that will see you through plenty of barbecues and alfresco dinner parties.
35. Add romantic atmosphere with candles (real or fake)
We couldn't forget the number one source of hygge in homes all over the country, now, could we? Candles are a great way to up the cosy factor in any room, but taken outdoors they're tricky to maintain – the slightest breeze and they're blown out. Enter LED candles.
Far from the cheap and nasty designs of old, the new faux candles are super lifelike, emitting a flickering glow that feels just like a flame. Arrange a few of different heights on your coffee table for instant atmosphere.
How do I choose a garden light?
Start by choosing which areas of the garden you would like to illuminate, and think about why. Perhaps you'd like to add something twinkly to a particularly attractive tree for an added dose of atmosphere. Or, maybe you're on the lookout for something more practical to line your pathways.
Although not always essential, you may decide to stick with a theme that complements already-existing features. For example, if you have a lot of traditional metal fixtures and a cottage-inspired garden, you may wish to pick antique-style lighting styles that blend in with the environment.
There are lots of solar-powered lights available. But, if you're after reliable, bright lighting, you may need to wire it in to an electricity supply. Always use an electrician if unsure, to avoid any safety hazards.
How bright should garden lights be?
How bright your lights should be depends on how you want to use them. Pathway lighting of 100-200 lumens is suitable, whilst flood lights used for security should be much higher, at around 700 lumens.
For more atmospheric lighting, a range of 50-300 lumens will work well to create attractive interest whilst avoiding glare.
Should all exterior lights match?
When it comes to lighting styles there are no set rules – it's all down to personal taste!
Those with a penchant for slick, contemporary styles may find that using consistent materials and colours works best across their plot. However, you may decide to try something a little more eclectic, adding a variety of textures, colours and finishes.
So, have fun and experiment – your garden should reflect your individual tastes, after all! However, if you're opting for a mix and match route, it's a good idea to aim to keep at least one trait in common. This will give your garden an underlying air of harmony.
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