Award-winning garden designer, Kate Gould, explores garden lighting do’s and don’ts.
Lighting is an important consideration in a garden if you want to use it in the evenings. I am increasingly asked by my clients to incorporate lighting into their garden scheme especially in town gardens where the smaller spaces have to work extra hard and often through antisocial hours.
In our opinion, LED lights are invaluable. They are both long lived and cost effective to run and work well as recessed lights in paving and decking where they can highlight steps and changes in level on or around the house. Used carefully they also work well to highlight pots and planters. Generally you need to think of these as feature lights; they won’t give you enough light to dine out or entertain by but used in combination with other lights in the garden they help to create a pleasing picture.
It is amazing how much it takes to highlight a plant or tree successfully. Up-lights; i.e. those lights that are ground mounted are the best for highlighting plants. Yucca, Phormium, Dicksonia, Phyllostachys and Trachycarpus all look dramatic when up-lit at night.
The light diffuses up the plant and softly away into the night, which means that the light does not cast great halos into the dark sky. In town settings urban light pollution is a problem for migrating birds, bats and insects and so consideration has to be put to these things too, as well as to neighbouring properties.
If you wish to dine by light outside then the kindest way of doing this is by candlelight. A soft and flickering glow around a table casts a warmer and more inviting light than artificial light and can always be combined with a Citronella scent to keep biting insects at bay. Tea lights in little holders make excellent marker points through a garden for special occasions and a good old-fashioned hurricane lamp is hard to beat.
Money speaks volumes with garden lighting and paying for a good light fitting such as those made by Hunza, Collingwood or Aurora will return dividends in the longevity of their use. Inexpensive fittings can be more trouble than they are worth and in a garden setting where water and electricity have to mix I would always rather pay for peace of mind.
Kate Gould is an award-winning garden designer with more than a decade’s hands-on experience transforming gardens of all sizes and a regular exhibitor at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show where she has been awarded three Gold medals. www.kategouldgardens.com