How-To Articles

Illuminate Outside


The right lighting can work wonders to bring something magical to an outdoor space. It sets the tone and creates a warm welcome, drawing you in on balmy summer nights. 

As with interior fittings, it is essential that your outdoor lights match the style and atmosphere of your garden. On a practical level this may mean opting for wrought iron light fittings if your garden furniture is made of wrought iron. There are plenty of outdoor options to choose from with many outdoor lights available in "families" with matching pedestals, poles and chains. Make sure that all your outdoor lights are fully waterproof, even if they are on a covered veranda. 

If mere practicality is what you're after consider bulkhead lighting along an exterior wall, positioned 5 to 10 metres apart. Opt for the ones with eyelets with the top half covered as these allow the light to reflect onto the ground, which reduces the glare and creates a softer effect. 

Outdoor lighting tends to be for both decorative and security purposes, while working to create a certain glowing ambience in the garden at night. 

Looks good, works great 

Decorative outdoor lighting can elevate the space from insignificant to illuminated with the flip of a switch! Coloured lights, in particular, can create a wonderful effect. Yellow is a popular colour for outdoor lights as it tends to work to repel insects. Blue, on the other hand, makes a good garden feature light for the bright glow it emits. Green may work too, depending on the colour of your outdoor furniture and other garden features. 

Lighting your garden is like decorating any other space, with a few key points that should be considered: 

Play with light and shadows: This will help to create depth, which means you won't need to light up the entire garden. Shadows create intrigue and interest as much as light does. Try silhouetting plants or illuminating a tree for a magical impact. 

Focus on specific features in the space: Consider lighting an interesting shrub at the back of the garden, the water feature halfway into the garden or the pretty flowerbed that sits more to the front of the garden. Lights at different depths of the garden will work to create dimension. 

Create interesting links: Connect the pool lights to the garden lights for a unified look, light the pathway to and from the pool (this serves both a decorative and functional purpose), light other pathways, stairs and any changes in level (again, decorative and functional), as well as any security weak points. 

Into the light 

Security around the home is always a concern, but appropriate lighting definitely helps to keep your property safe. When selecting security lights it is important to choose the right lights for the right application. It's best to go for an energy-saving option if you like to leave the lights on all night, though a QI halogen floodlight with motion sensor is a great option too. Remember to never touch a halogen lamp with your fingers as this shortens its lifespan. 

There are two type of security lighting, each with its own benefits:

Low-cost/energy-saving lights 

The low-cost and energy-efficient ones are a great option if you like to leave the lights on all night. This works particularly well for illuminating specific sections around the house or garden, especially parts that are a security risk. Energy-saving floodlights are a great option as the different size beams create different effects - it works to either create a wide but shallow spread of light, or a narrow, penetrating coverage. 

Motion-sensor lights

Motion-sensor lights offer are a cost-effective security option that can easily be installed onto existing light fittings. 

There are two types of motion-sensor floodlights:
A sensor attached to a single fitting that switches on the light when movement is detected
A remote sensor attached to one or more fittings - when movement is detected at one point, all the lights come on, which is ideal for an L-shaped building 

It may happen that motion-sensors keep switching on because of pets moving around them. This is easily remedied by covering the bottom photocell that prevents the device from detecting movement close to the ground. The key is to position the motion-sensors correctly; the higher you place them the less distance they will cover while a lower floodlights will give broader coverage. 

With a few practical considerations, lighting your outdoor space can elevate your garden, verandah or courtyard into a magical extension of your home, ideal for relaxing, playing and entertaining.