How to light your outdoors

Getting your lighting right outside is just as important as it is indoors. Lights can bring your outdoors to life, highlight certain features and add an element of safety.

The perfect plan

Before you start, it’s a good idea to make a plan. Begin by thinking about how you use your outdoor area and what the different lighting requirements are for each space. Perhaps you entertain a lot and would like a well-lit area, maybe you want to highlight a statue or water feature, or you may wish to create a relaxing atmosphere.

Layer your lights

For spaces that have multiple uses, consider light layering. By layering your lighting you’ll be able to easily change the mood from tranquil to party with the flick of a switch. Whatever lighting style or mood you’re trying to achieve, you’ll need to use three different types of lighting:

  • Ambient
  • Task
  • Accent
  • outdoor lighting

    Ambient lighting

    Ambient lighting should light up the entire space. In an outdoor area this could include a ceiling light, the light from a ceiling fan, a large spotlight, several downlights or well-spaced wall lights. Include a dimmer switch if possible for complete control.

    Task lighting

    Task lights do just what their name suggests – they illuminate areas where you are performing a specific task. For example, this may be a clip on BBQ light, down lights above a servery or a pendant hanging over a dining table.

    party lights

    Accent lighting

    The role of accent lights is to provide a bit of theatre. These lights highlight the features that you want to stand out and can make a space feel warm and inviting. Accent lights could be used to focus on trees, a path or steps, an architectural feature or something in your garden like a pond. Think fairy lights, party lights, Japanese lanterns or decorative string lights (these come in all shapes and lengths).

    Choose your lights

    Now you’ve identified how you would like to light your outdoor space, it’s time to select and install your lights. You’ll also need to decide between halogen, CFL or LED globes. Remember, lights need to be installed by a qualified electrician – it is not a D.I.Y. project.

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    Health & Safety

    Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

    Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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