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Light Up Your Landscape

With such a wealth of creative garden lighting available it can be difficult to decide what to choose. Explore these options to choose the right lighting for your landscape.

Excerpted from Garden Design

With such a wealth of creative garden lighting now available it can be difficult to decide what’s right for you. Here, we share the merits of each option.

Types of Lighting

Garden lighting has been revolutionized by the introduction of efficient LEDs, and the increased availability of relatively safe, low-voltage lighting and more reliable solar-powered units. Even “designer” effects are now available for domestic gardens. While home improvement stores carry an increasingly wide range, the largest choice can be found online and via specialist companies.

With the exception of solar-powered lighting, candles, and oil lamps, all other illumination devices need to be connected to an electricity supply. Lights either receive power directly from a wall socket or through a transformer that provides a low-voltage current—ideal for a garden, as water and electrical current are a lethal mix. Always employ a qualified electrician to install lighting and make connections to an electricity supply.

Light Show
A combination of colored fluorescent tubes, grazing and spotlighting creates a cool, watery effect similar to that of a giant indoor aquarium.

Colored Fluorescent Tubes Create Water EffectGarden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

LED Lighting

Where to Site
Almost anywhere in the garden. Can be used as pool lighting, recessed lighting, twinkle lights, or spots.

Extent of Illumination
Very bright for the size of unit. Casings can enhance and focus light output, and diffusers soften it.

Expense
More expensive to buy, but cost effective when efficiency and longevity are taken into account.

Installation
The same as conventional bulbs—running off wall socket or transformer. Useful for hard-to-reach areas.

Maintenance
LED bulbs last many times longer than a standard light bulb or even a compact fluorescent bulb.

Live Flame Lighting

Where to Site
Candles, oil lamps and lanterns may be placed on the ground, in wall niches, on tables, and hung or floated.

Extent of Illumination
Low-level, atmospheric lighting. Candelabras and lanterns are suitable for outdoor dining.

Expense
Candles, gel and oil lamps are inexpensive compared to electric fittings, but do not offer comparable lighting.

Installation
Take care to site safely on a non-flammable, level surface in shelter. Do not leave a live flame unattended.

Maintenance
Trim wick to keep candle flame low and efficient. Extinguish with a snuffer. Do not move candles when wax is liquid.

Electric Lighting

Where to Site
Use fluorescents for wall lamps, post lights, etc, and halogen flood lights for security and colored effects.

Extent of Illumination
Varies according to fixture—halogens can illuminate entire garden. Colored fluorescents are for bright, modern effects.

Expense
Inexpensive to buy but running costs add up: use low-energy bulbs and fluorescent strips/halogen lights where possible.

Installation
Lighting can run off a wall socket or transformer. Consult a qualified electrician for installation.

Maintenance
Replace bulbs when they burn out. Keep wall lamps and infrared sensors clean.

Fiber Optic Lighting

Where to Site
In paving and decking for a starlight effect, and in water features. Transparent tubing outlines hard landscaping.

Extent of Illumination
Soft, low-level lighting set into decking. Can brighten water sculptures with metal halide source.

Expense
DIY kits are fairly reasonably priced, but specialist installation will be more expensive.

Installation
May need specialist installation. Transformer and light source will need waterproof sitting.

Maintenance
Very low heat and UV output. Low maintenance: clean deck and paving fiber optics with gentle cleansers.

Solar-Powered Lighting

Where to Site
Edge of pathways/patios; in ponds (floating/rock lights); on walls; by plants. Some types suitable as spotlights.

Extent of Illumination
Low. Units fitted with modern LEDs are brighter. Strength depends on battery type and age. Gentle lighting for paths.

Expense
Expensive initially compared to standard units, but consider convenience and zero running costs, plus longevity.

Installation
Safe and easy DIY lighting. Needs sunny spot to operate well. May not stay on as long in winter.

Maintenance
Photovoltaic cells need regular cleaning. Good quality nickel-cadmium batteries could last up to 20 years.

Solar Power Lanterns Light Pathways EconomicallyGarden Design ©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

Gas/Electric Heating

Pros
Convenient and no cleaning up afterwards. Instant heat and/or cooking with flexibility: easily controllable.

Cons
Burns fossil fuels. Highly inefficient considering amount of energy used and heat produced. Heavy cylinders for gas heaters.

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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