How To Light Your Garden
Introduction To Garden Lighting
Lighting isn’t often the first thing to come to mind when you think of a garden but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth investing in. Outdoor lighting can increase security, add atmosphere and decrease nighttime hazards meaning you can enjoy your garden at any time of the day.
Lighting Types For The Garden
Before purchasing lighting for your garden, examine the available (IP rated) fixtures and outlets, the layout of the garden and what you want to get out of the lighting.
Outdoor lighting generally uses low pressure sodium (LPS), high pressure sodium (HPS), metal halide or light emitting diodes (LEDs). Incandescent and halogen bulbs are less advisable for outdoor use due to them heating up when used and their shorter lifespan. At Lightsource, we strongly recommend LED lighting for outdoor use for a number of reasons. LPS bulbs are energy efficient but only offer a narrow orange colour range. HPS bulbs are used for street lighting in many cities. They also emit an orange glow but have a more flattering range. Metal halide bulbs are 3-5 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and produce a much higher quality light. They produce a white light and usually have a very high colour temperature that can be up to 5500K. A downside to this bulb is it can take up to 20 minutes to warm up. LED bulbs are up to 90% more energy efficient and will last 30% longer than incandescent light bulbs. They light up instantly, don’t produce heat, have a wide range of colour options, are dimmable and can be disposed of safely. All of these bulb options come in the form of electrical power, meaning it will need to be plugged into a fixture, battery power and solar power, something that must be considered before purchasing outdoor lighting.
As LEDs don’t emit heat, they will not attract insects to your lights.
Suitable garden lighting fixtures include; full cutoff fixtures, fully shielded wall packs and wall mounts, full cutoff street lights, fully shielded barn lights, walkway bollards, decorative fixtures and period fixtures, shielded and downwards facing floodlights and fully mounted or side shielded under canopy fixtures.
In addition to unshielded lights, drop lens, sag lens, refractor lens, exposed bulbs and louvred style fixtures are unsuitable for outdoor use in most cases.
Make sure garden lights are pointed downwards so they don’t interfere with animal behaviour and contribute to light pollution.
Ambient Lighting For The Garden
Ambient or general lighting should be the first type of light you consider for your garden.
Ambient garden lighting will work best if fixed in place. Wall, post, stake, bollard, floodlights, linear lights and even pendant lighting works well for this. Recessed or strip lighting is a useful way of lighting up hazards such as steps in a subtle way.
Natural light is the best form of garden light during the day. At night, in combination with your light fixtures, a fire can be an excellent source of light and heat.
Accent Lighting For The Garden
Lanterns, table lamps, spot lights, strip lights, projector lights and string or rope lights such as fairy lights are great for highlighting your favourite garden features. Portable lighting can be useful for accent lighting as it can provide decoration.
Be careful not to damage the plant when installing tree lights as this can result in the tree growing over the light while repairing itself.
Task & Zone Lighting For The Garden
Spotlights, downlights and recessed lighting work well for task and zone lighting. The amount of zones in your garden will depend on its size and organisation.
Security lighting is usually controlled by passive infrared sensors (PIR) which detect movement. We advise placing security lights near access points, facing downwards and 6 – 10 feet off the ground. A 2018 study found that having outdoor lighting in gardens decreases crime by 39%. Security lights can often be connected to a system that can be monitored by the residents of the house. This is particularly useful if a security camera is also installed.
Make sure security lighting is on a different circuit than the rest of the lights.
Lumens & CCT
The recommended lumens levels for outdoor lighting are:
Small Patio – 500lm
Driveway – 1500lm
Small Garden (50m²) – 1600lm
Medium Garden (150m²) – 2400lm
Car Park – 9000-20000lm
Path Lights – 100-200 lm
Step Lights – 12-100 lm
Flood Lights – 700-1300 lm
Underwater Lights – 200-400 lm
Hardscape Lights – 50-185 lm
General Landscape Lights – 50-300 lm
Motion Sensor Lights – 700-1300 lm
Warm or very warm colour temperatures of around 3000K are recommended for outdoor use. This is because a warm colour will be the least destructive colour temperature for nocturnal animals.
Compatibility & Protection
Garden lighting must have an ingress protection rating to be safe for use.
The first digit of an IP rating describes its intrusion protection:
0: No special protection.
1: Protection from a large part of the body, such as a hand (but no protection from deliberate access); from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter.
2: Protection against fingers or other objects no greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter.
3: Protection from entry by tools, wires etc. with a diameter of 2.5 mm or more.
4: Protection against solid bodies larger than 1mm (e.g. small tools).
5: Protected against dust that may harm equipment.
6: Totally dust-tight.
The second digit of an IP rating describes its protection against moisture:
0: No protection.
1: Protection against condensation.
2: Protection against water droplets deflected up to 15 degrees from vertical.
3: Protection against spray up to 60 degrees from vertical.
4: Protection against water spray from all directions.
5: Protection against low-pressure water jets (all directions).
6: Protection against string water jets and waves.
7: Protection against temporary immersion.
8: Protection against prolonged effects of immersion under pressure.
To summarise, garden lighting that is protected, such as under a roof is IP43, lighting exposed to light rain IP44, lighting exposed to heavy rain IP65, lighting in shallow water up to 1 metre IP67 and lighting submerged in water over 1m IP68.
For example, a light with an IP rating of 68 will be very protected from both intrusion and moisture and would therefore be ideal for a garden pond.
As well as evaluating cost, another factor to consider when choosing garden lighting is if you will be able to install it yourself. Battery and solar powered lighting are simple and detached so can be easily self-installed. Low voltage lighting (12 volts) can also be self-installed. However, high voltage lighting (230 volts) will require a professional electrician to fit, approve and install it due to the safety risks.
A halogen bulb gives you 2,000 hours of use, while an equivalent LED bulb lasts more than 20,000 hours. LED bulbs are the most efficient and versatile choice for garden lighting.
The recommended wattage levels for gardens are:
Large Garden – 80 watts +
Small or Medium Garden – 40 – 80 watts
Pathways – 20 watts
Using fixtures below 40 Watts can help reduce energy consumption and minimise light pollution.
For reduced environmental impact it is best to use lights with a low lumen level and install dimmers, motion sensors or daylight sensors to ensure it is only turned on when necessary.
Blue light should be avoided as it brightens the sky, harms human health and endangers wildlife.
At Lightsource we have options to suit every garden. If you want to learn more about garden lighting, speak to a member of our team or call into our showroom for a free consultation.