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Bringing your garden to life with lights

When the sun goes down, your garden can still look fantastic with the right lighting. You can make a real feature of all your plants, landscaping and outdoor entertaining area. There are also some practical reasons to set up outdoor lights for extra security and safety.

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1. Task lighting

Task lights are often used in entranceways, along paths, beside stairs, onto entertaining areas or anywhere else you need to find your way around safely after dark.

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2. Feature lighting

All the best features of your garden, like pergolas, arches, trees, pools or statues, can really come to life after dark with spotlights. Or for something different you could try wrapping a tree in fairy lights.

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3. Lighting design

You'll want to make sure all you security and task lighting is fairly bright, but with accent or ambient lighting, less is definitely more. The idea is to make your garden look its best, not shine a light on every little corner.

Work out all the features you want to highlight, then what type of lighting is going to have the best effect. Some areas might need to be brighter and others softer, for example floodlights are perfect for large areas while paths only need subtle, diffuse lights.

You can also use coloured lights to create different effects in your garden. Yellows and reds add warmth, green boosts the colour of your plants, and white or blue can make an area seem fresh and cool.

Where you can, try to make use of lighter coloured, reflective surfaces like walls to extend and spread light.

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4. Security lighting

You can keep intruders away by setting up motion sensor lights, which automatically turn on whenever someone is near. They can also help light the way if you're returning home at night.

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5. Practical tips

  • Make sure your switches are in easy reach, near doors or windows, so you can switch them on or off without stepping outside
  • If you need to light a pathway, avoid putting lights on both sides as it can look like a landing strip
  • Always set up your lights so they don't shine in your eyes
  • Using timers can save you having to remember to switch them off
  • If you want to light up a large garden bed, try using a series of overlapping spotlights for a softer effect
  • Solid objects work best for your feature lighting, rather than thin spindly ones like open trellises or bare trees
  • You may want to move your lights around, as the seasons change and your garden matures, so leave enough slack in your cables
  • Make sure all the wiring is tucked out away to avoid anyone tripping over or pets chewing on them
  • Never use indoor lights that aren't designed for outdoors
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