These garden lighting ideas will have you dreaming of long evenings spent in your outdoor space, whether you’ve acres of land, a small garden space or even a balcony area in need of brightening up. From creating a cosy nook on your patio to lighting up your outdoor living or dining space, we have the most stylish, effective – and not to mention budget-friendly – looks to copy below.
Whether you like a bohemian, relaxed vibe with lots of fairy lights (classic), an ultra-modern lighting scheme, or a completely eco-friendly, solar light-fuelled display, we have a look for you.
- You can find all our garden ideas and inspiration on our dedicated page.
How do you illuminate a garden?
We spoke with Chaplins about the best ways to light up an outdoor space and why it’s key in all seasons, ‘We’re fervent believers in using outdoor lighting to open up new possibilities for your garden space. We know there’s nothing better than a summer soirée with family and friends, which is why we encourage you to not let the sun set on yours.’
It’s all about taking your garden lighting from day to night, for which Chaplins recommend is best done with lanterns and eco-friendly but stunning lighting options also, like solar-charging options.
Charlie Bowles, Director of Davey Lighting adds how ‘Good exterior lighting can transform your home and should be considered carefully to maximise the features and the function of your outdoor space. A well-thought out mixture of task and ambient lighting will make your garden, porch or patio an attractive, inviting space – and safer for people arriving at the property at night.’
- Find the best outdoor lighting in our buyer’s guide.
1. Use pendant lights to add volume to a dining area
To instantly update a garden dining area, or to turn your pergola into a chic al fresco dining spot, add pendant lights. The hand-blown Acid Drop pendants by Curiosa & Curiosa add both colour and a chic Art Deco vibe to this garden dining area.
- Find more of our outdoor dining ideas in our edit.
2. Let lighting complement your fire pit
Garden lighting and fire pit ideas go hand in hand. Choose candles and fairly lights to create a similar vibe to the above and watch the light bounce about and create heaps of atmosphere.
3. Create bohemian charm with candles and lanterns
Lighting a garden with temporary lights such as lanterns and candles couldn’t be easier. Wrap twinkly lights around arches and arbours, or drape them through trees or even pots and baskets. A warning, however: although some party lights can be left outside all the time, others need to be brought in when it starts raining.
Improvised lights can also look far better than you might think, and what’s more they cost mere pennies and are very environmentally friendly. Tealights in old baked-bean cans or jars look great when used en masse. You can even paint the outside of jars with special glass paints for a stained-glass effect if you wish, and DIY stores stock bags of 100 tealights for less than £10, making them an easy and affordable way to enjoy your outdoor space throughout the winter months. For a smart look that doesn’t look too formal, mix and match lanterns in a variety of shapes and materials. This contemporary garden gets a bohemian update courtesy of The White Company. You can use large storage jars to create a similar candlelit look.
- Changing up your garden design too? We can help.
4. Make your space a little rustic
All the copper tones in this courtyard makes for a really stylish and elegant yet rustic looking space. The wall light is simple but effective and that along with the table lantern is just enough to bring this tiny space to life by night.
- Find more of our small garden ideas if you’re working with a tiny bit of land.
5. Weave garden lighting into the landscape
Could this setup be anymore dreamy? Blending soft, warm lighting into hedging or other soft/hard landscaping you have in your garden will create ambiance and make for a chilled and chic outdoor living space like no other.
6. Suspend festoon lights above your dinner table
(Image credit: Lights4fun)
Festoon lights are a timeless classic for a reason: there’s not an outdoor space out there you can’t instantly transform into a romantic nook with this garden lighting idea. Our all-time favourite look is strings of festoon lights suspended above a dining area.
7. Create a cosy spot on the lawn
String lights are so versatile and we love the idea of using them in a low hedge or hanging tree to create a small secluded and well lit spot on a lawn – for wine and reading of course.
8. Upgrade your outdoor room with a garden floor lamp
Already have all the festoon lights you’ll ever need, or want to try something a bit different? Creating an outdoor room is a recent trend that allows you to blend indoor and outdoor decor – and is very effective for making your garden cosy come autumn. Use outdoor lighting that looks like it’s for indoors to achieve this effect.
9. Add interest to a container garden with LED sticks
(Image credit: Wayfair/House Additions)
If you want to draw more attention to planting in a container garden after it gets dark, but are bored of spotlights/flood lights, try this garden lighting idea: sticking LED path lights into your containers. They’ll add a subtle glow and won’t look too shabby during the day, either.
10. Create a contrast with monochrome lighting
Monochrome never goes out of fashion for gardens. Lighting a garden with shades of white and cream are the failsafe option for creating an opulent contemporary design scheme – they look amazing as a decking idea, too. To break up the neutral space, add some graphic black lanterns and pendants.
11. Create a garden lighting scheme with paper lanterns
If you’re on a budget but want a big-impact garden lighting scheme, go for paper lanterns. Cheap and cheerful, they look great when clustered together, both during the day and at night. These paper lamp shades are from Ikea.
- Find more cheap garden ideas that are super cheerful and chic in our edit.
12. Emphasise height with a cascade of string lights
(Image credit: Lights4fun)
Blessed with a large garden and a tall canopy? Make the most of your garden’s spaciousness by hanging not just one string of lights, but lots of them, for a shimmering, cascading effect.
13. Experiment with unusual path lights
Newsflash: path lights don’t have to be non-descript and boring. To add more character to your garden path, choose novelty designs that’ll draw attention to your borders. The Halbert Solar Powered Ice Cube lights add warmth and texture to this garden path, and are available from Wayfair. This garden lighting idea could also illuminate your deck.
Bowles notes how ‘Path or step lights make dim or steep walkways easier to use, while box wall lights or exterior bracket lights by the front door create a welcoming first impression. You can even increase perception of living space by making your garden visible at night – enabling you to enjoy the garden year-round, whatever the weather.’
- Find more cool garden path ideas in our edit.
14. Add garden lighting to a water feature
Proud owner of a garden pond? Few things in the garden are as enchanting as a beautifully lit water feature. Some will come with their own lighting, but if you have a natural pond, you can get water-safe lights designed especially for them. We really like the soft, otherworldly effect created by the LED decorative frogs by Hokku Designs. The lights come attached to the artificial lily pads.
- Find out everything you need to know about garden water features in our guide.
15. Moroccan garden lanterns add an exotic vibe
There are so many different looks you can achieve with lanterns, depending on what style they are. Nautical lanterns are a classic choice, but for a warmer look, choose Moroccan-inspired ones. They’ll cast beautiful shadows on your patio or deck, creating a mysterious and intimate atmosphere. The Almeida Moroccan Candle Lantern Duo is from Lights4fun.
16. Create a twinkling garden screen
(Image credit: Wayfair)
For a little privacy that’s bright and beautiful too, consider an LED light curtain and attach it to a pergola or even between a couple of trees. Sure to up both the level of loveliness and light in your space.
- Find more garden screening ideas in our edit.
17. Add ultra-modern globe path lights for a contemporary look
Path lights are probably the easiest way to update your garden lighting. You just stick them in, and they run off either batteries or solar energy. For contemporary gardens, matt globe path lights are a great way to create accents on a lawn; in a sloped garden, they’ll emphasise the different levels.
18. Adorn your favourite garden tree with string lights
It may seem like it’s ages away, but autumn and winter are just round the corner, and soon enough there won’t be any leaves left on your favourite garden tree. Create a joyful winter accent in your garden by wrapping fairy lights all around its trunk and thicker branches. This look is especially suited to front gardens.
The Traditional Warm White LED string lights are from Lights4fun.
19. Liven up a garden fence with colourful festoon lights
Garden fences can be weak links in your garden design, especially if yours is plain. There’s an easy way to give your fence a bit of oomph, though – by adding colourful festoon lights. The strong, primary colours of these festoon lights from Wayfair counterbalance the plain colour of the fence.
- Find more garden fence ideas in our edit.
20. Illuminate beautiful foliage
Got a beautiful tree with interesting foliage? Make the most of your tree or maple with a colourful web of festoon or fairy lights. These bright festoon lights are from Seasonal Aisle.
21. Add fairytale magic with nature-inspired path lights
Take inspiration from nature and choose garden lights that have organic shapes and a gentle glow. From bees to pineapples, there are lots of flora- and fauna-inspired outdoor lighting designs that’ll help you create an organic look.
This garden border has been decorated with Mini Mushroom Solar Stake Lights from Lights4fun. Great as a garden lighting idea for kids to enjoy.
- We’ve more garden ideas for kids where that came from too.
22. Add stone-effect path lights in traditional gardens
Traditional, cottage gardens or country gardens need garden lighting that’s sympathetic to their style and materials. The more natural-looking the material and light colour, the better it will fit in with your overall garden design scheme. These stone-effect globe path lights are actually made from polyethylene, but it’s impossible to tell they’re not real stone.
23. Uplight mature trees for dramatic landscaping
‘Try uplighting trees, especially those with interesting bark, like the Tibetan cherry and silver birch. To create maximum impact, position a 50-watt spotlight close to the base of the trunk so the beam creates a play of shifting light and shadow up through the branches of the tree.’
- Find more garden landscaping ideas in our edit.
24. Use LED outdoor lights for longer-lasting spot lighting
LEDs (light emitting diodes) are popular as they are particularly useful for long cable runs, and can be used almost anywhere: in step lights, as recessed spots in paving and decking, even under water spouts and fountains. Some LEDs come in different colours and there are others where you can programme the colour to suit the mood. You will pay more for LED lights than standard fittings, but the bulbs last a lot longer and the fittings are more discreet. Permanently coloured lights are best used in moderation and specifically in areas where a distinct focus or style is required.
- Best outdoor security lights for your garden.
25. Invest in solar-powered garden lighting for an eco-conscious garden setting
Solar-powered lights are good for the planet and they won’t require any electrical skills to install them – perfect if you want to create an eco-friendly garden. Solar lighting offers great versatility and cost effective illumination. In terms of performance, they used to lose out to more powerful, traditional options, but this is quickly changing.
Chris Beardshaw, UK-based garden designer says: ‘LED and solar powered lights are creating a revolution in garden lighting as both are increasingly becoming available in hugely diverse styles, economically and with low maintenance requirements. Of course both are also efficient in light production, with solar lights now offering up to six hours of illumination.’
26. Pick lights that are as good as your garden furniture
In a contemporary garden or patio, it’s worth considering investing into well-designed lights that are portable, but will give permanent lighting fixtures a run for their money. We think that the Flame LED lanterns by Manutti used in this contemporary garden setting create a wonderfully formal look that’s still easy to reconfigure. They’re not cheap – find more affordable alternatives at Lights4fun.
- Find more of the best garden furniture for your space in our roundup.
27. Integrate stylish security lighting into your garden
Security lights, such as porch lights, offer a high intensity flood light effect that is unflattering for a garden and those using or viewing it. However, careful positioning of security lighting combined with the use of more ornamental lights throughout the garden creates not only a more aesthetically rewarding effect, but also aids the security by illuminating the whole garden in a variety of ways.
28. Use soft zoned lighting in a roof garden
Lighting a garden that’s on top of a roof presents lots of opportunities for clever outdoor lighting design. Think of a rooftop garden as a stage of sorts: the more different types of garden lighting it uses, the prettier it will look. This rooftop garden by John Cullen Lighting has an outdoor lighting scheme that uses spot lights, deck lights, tabletop lanterns, and an outdoor fireplace to create multiple sources of light.
- For advice on designing a rooftop garden we can help.
29. Make the most of pendants on a small balcony
(Image credit: Ikea)
If your garden is, in fact, a tiny balcony, you’ll want to make the most use of vertical lighting opportunities. Fairy lights suspended along the top of the perimeter are an obvious choice, but you can also try decorating a tree with lanterns.
- We’ve heaps of balcony ideas in our edit.
30. Choose pendant lights with soft shades
The indoor-outdoor garden trend is hot right now, and that includes garden lighting design. If you’re choosing garden pendant lights, for example, think softer shades that wouldn’t be out of place in your living room; they also work really well in outdoor kitchens or dining areas. The stunning Tribu Monsieur Tricot garden lamps are from Go Modern Furniture
- The best solar-powered lights for your garden.
31. Light up a garden wall for year round interest
To keep your garden lighting scheme functional in all seasons – even when the nights draw in and there are fewer plants in the garden – you may choose to create a bit more interest by spotlighting a textured brick wall or even a nice garden fence. We really like the way in which deck lights are used to uplight a wall in this patio using Storm 3 Light LED Deck Lights by Sol 72 Outdoor.
- Like that space? Check out our patio ideas edit for more.
32. Concentrate your garden lights around your seating area
Once the night get seriously dark, it is wiser to concentrate more garden lights around a small area (usually your dining or bistro set) rather than trying to illuminate the whole garden. Pair festoon lights with lanterns for a luminous effect.
The LED Twinkly™ Smart App Controlled Festoon Lights are especially suitable for autumn, because you can switch them off after you’ve gone in, without needing to go outside again.
Bowles says how ‘It is worth investing in good quality lighting that can withstand the elements. Consider form as well as function – natural materials with interesting patinas such as weathered bronze, copper and brass are the best choices as they’re low maintenance, age well and weather beautifully.’
33. Go for spooky vibes all year round
Reds, deep oranges (and skulls for that matter) are not just reserved for Halloween. So incorporate these colours into your outdoor space to have it looking great all year and most especially prepped when Halloween and pumpkin times galore come around… We also like deep shades of purple and magenta for a stylish finish.
Lights4fun have used their pumpkin decorations and Twinkly™ Smart App Controlled Lights in this marvellously haunting garden scene.
34. Decorate the perimeter of your outdoor kitchen with festoon lights
Want to be able to use your outdoor kitchen after dark? Decorate the perimeter of the cooking area with fairy or festoon lights – it’ll become instantly much more inviting. This outdoor kitchen uses Led lighting chain with 12 lights from Ikea.
35. Let tasteful Christmas lighting stick around all year
While we all love the pre-lit Christmas reindeer in our front gardens, choosing Christmas garden lighting ideas that are a bit different – a bit like these ducks – means that you may not actually need to rush to shove them in the shed after the festive period is over. These battery-powered pre-lit acrylic Christmas ducks from Lights4fun are too cute and will look gorgeous in all garden settings, especially ones with ponds.
36. Build a garden arbor decorated with garden lights
This gorgeous outdoor lighting idea is part Hobbit house, part natural sculpture – we adore it. While building something like this would be quite labor-intensive, you can always decorate a shop-bought arbor or pergola.
- Or, learn how to build a pergola instead.
How to plan your garden lighting design
When thinking about where to start with garden lighting, remember that you can use lighting to better focus attention on plants and sculptures, while help mellow out unsightly sheds or the family trampoline (that you may only just manage to ignore during the day!). The secret, is not to overdo it – only illuminate your garden’s best bits, as a little light goes a long way in the dark. Consider the following when lighting a garden:
Zone your garden
Garden designer and TV presenter Chris Beardshaw advises, ‘Consider the many different forms of light at your disposal and break the garden down into areas. For instance, access paths, major routes, secluded areas and decorative features and statement plants all require the most illumination, but will need different treatment for the best results.’
Experiment with a torch
Garden design expert Matt James recommends: ‘To work out which areas of your garden will look best lit up, take a torch out at night and experiment by shining it on different features, such as trelliswork, statues, pots and plants with an architectural form. All of these will look different when lit from various angles.’
Use spotlights to highlight features
‘For another novel lighting idea, try positioning a spotlight at the base of an old brick or stone wall and see how the light grazes the wall above and throws the texture into sharp relief.’ Try a similar trick with wall lights at shoulder height (above) to highlight a contemporary space and to provide practical illumination from one part of the garden to another at night.
Create drama with a projector
‘A plain wall at the back of a border can be transformed into an outdoor projector screen by positioning a spotlight in front of big architectural plants like New Zealand flax or tall ornamental grasses, such as Miscanthus Flamingo. When the wind makes their silhouettes shimmy against the wall, you’ll have your own black-and-white movie.’
For a relaxed ambiance: fibre-optic outdoor lights will create a soft glow
Fibre-optic lights for gardens are fairly new and cast a soft ambient glow, making them perfect for highlighting steps or decking. DIY kits are relatively cheap, though if you opt for a professional to fit them, it will cost more compared to installing LEDs or conventional fluorescent lights.
Fluorescent outdoor lights: for flood lighting and security
Fluorescent lights are the most common lights for lighting a garden. Most designs have 12-volt halogen reflector lamps that use less energy and are therefore more environmentally friendly. For flood lighting and security, choose large halogen beam spreads, but go for one with a PIR (passive infrared) sensor that can be turned off manually so that it doesn’t waste energy or ruin garden get-togethers.
How to install garden lighting
Garden lights either work directly from the mains or through a transformer that provides a 12 or 24 low-voltage current. Both will need a qualified electrician to install them, but it is possible to fit some of the smaller low-voltage sets yourself once the power supply, usually a waterproof socket with an RCD (residual current device), has been fixed outside by a professional. Of the two, low-voltage lighting is best: it’s far safer, there are more fittings to choose from, it’s easier to install, and you can move the fittings around more readily.
Working out the size of the transformer you’ll need to install is easy. Simply multiply the wattage and number of individual lights (bulbs) you want to use in your new lighting scheme. For example, four 30-watt lamps will require a 120-watt transformer. However, it’s always a good idea to go for a transformer that is larger than you think you’ll need, so in the future you can add more lights or up the brightness of the bulbs without the hassle of upgrading the transformer.
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