Lighting your garden takes it from a great place to hang out during the day, to a great place to hang any time. A well designed and planned layout is the key to achieving a highly functional and attractive backyard.
You have many options when it comes to buying lights. There are solar lights that do not need any wiring, LED (light-emitting diode) lights that need to be wired but only use a tiny amount of electricity, or traditional garden lights. The choices can seem daunting, so read on to understand your options.
The normal installation of garden lighting is pretty straightforward and can be done in a weekend. You have to decide if you want your lights to be on an automatic timer or a manual switch. No serious electrical knowledge is necessary.
The best way to start designing and planning your lighting scheme is to draw an overhead view of your garden and make a few copies of it. The drawing doesn’t have to be great, you just need to be able to see what different layouts will look like. Spend some time drawing different layouts of lights to see what you like best.
Some things to keep in mind-
- Can you still mow the lawn with lights in it?
- Will there be enough sun for solar lights?
- Are there any wires or pipes (drip system) in the area you need to run wires?
- Where will the power source be?
- Will the lights be in the way of the kids playing?
With your drawing and keeping these things in mind start your design. Generally, you want your lighting setup to be symmetrical and the lights are an even distance apart. Lighting pathways are probably the most common use of garden lights. Some less common, but still attractive, ideas are-
- Across the front of a raised bed garden.
- Around the perimeter of the patio.
- Encircling a garden statue.
- Pointing lights straight up the base of the tree.
- Lighting a plant that you are particularly proud of.
- Rope light up a tree or in the branches.
What are you waiting for? Start drawing!!
Now that you have a plan and vision of what your garden lighting will look like, it’s time to go shopping! Well, almost. Let’s go over the different types of lights first.
Solar lights charge an internal battery with sunlight. They generally come in two different setups: 1. Individual lights with their own solar cells (no wiring), or 2. Lights wired to a central solar cell. Both types have their advantages. A wired setup allows you to put the solar cell in the location that gets the most sun, but you have to deal with wires. Individual lights with cells can be stuck in the ground and you’re ready, but some lights may not be charged by the time the sun goes down.
LED lights are always wired but draw a minute amount of electricity and put out a ton of light. LED lights are extremely efficient and are considered “low voltage.” These are very low maintenance.
Other systems have low wattage bulbs, wired in series. These are the most common type of garden light but consume the most electricity.
Now that you have your plan and your lights, it’s time to get them in the ground.
Place your lights in the spots you wish, dig a hole for the wire to lay in (read manufacturers instructions for this, they vary), cover everything back up, repeat.
Now sit back and enjoy your handiwork. Nice job!