Summer’s here and what better way to charm guests than dinner out on the back patio amidst the soft twinkle of string lights?
Here are some options for lighting up your backyard and garden so you can get the most use out of your outdoor space during the warm weather.
The proper lighting can create the perfect atmosphere for those lazy, hazy days of summer, deter intruders and artfully light up paths, patios and driveways.
• LED lighting is used almost exclusively by professional installers. LED lights are initially expensive with each bulb costing about $30-40 each but they do not need to be replaced often - they come with a 10-year warranty. They are now available in warm white tones which are preferable to the cool, bluish glow of the older LED models.
LED lighting is energy efficient and thus eco-friendly. It is also easier to install requiring less wiring and time than other lighting. The bulbs remain cool which means plants will not get scorched when the lights turn on at night.
• Halogen Lighting bathes the garden and backyard in an amber glow that is warm and inviting and was the primary type of lighting used in landscaping. The initial cost of halogen bulbs is low (only a few dollars per bulb), but they need to be replaced every few months depending on how long your lights are used each evening.
Halogen lights give off heat which means it is important that the lights are positioned carefully to protect delicate foliage from being burned.
• Solar lights are easy for do-it-yourselfers to install. Pop the unit in and allow the sun to work its magic. Unfortunately, solar bulbs do not produce a great deal of light, do not last very long and often give off a cold blue glow. The fixtures, too, look cheap and they often deteriorate within a year or two.
Lighting Effects & Techniques
There are multiple ways of using lights to showcase your backyard, patio and garden.
Patio lighting is all about creating mood and atmosphere. Rope or string lights come in different colours and can be intertwined around an umbrella or gazebo. They will radiate enough light to enjoy company and conversation and allow you to spend time on the patio after dark.
Path lighting ensures the walker is safe, while delivering a sense of mystery and adventure to the walker. It is also called traverse lighting since it helps a person get from one location to another. Lights can be metallic or glass fixtures can be set into the ground and then illuminated so that it casts a three-foot circle of light.
Up-lighting is a term used when LED or halogen spot lights are placed at the base of a tree trunk, pillar or at the bottom of a wall and the light shines up to show off the structure. They should be placed about five feet or more away for maximum effectiveness. Fixtures should also have a convex lens so that water runs off the bulb.
Down lighting is the reverse where lights are placed in a tree, under eavestroughs or garden walls so that the illumination is softer and mimics moonlight. It is also used for highlighting doorways and other entrances.
Water features like ponds, waterfalls and fountains lend themselves to dramatic lighting. The lights serve two purposes: it ensures safety and accentuates the beauty of the feature. You may choose to install lights around the pond’s exterior or underwater. Either way, LED lighting is the best choice. Lighting can also be hidden among the rocks or colored filters can be used to add a dash of colour.
Whatever type of lighting you choose – and the options are endless, it will brighten up the evening and ensure that you are able to prolong the enjoyment of using your garden and backyard.