Once you understand the purposes of exterior lights and have narrowed down your goals when lighting your garden or other outdoor spaces, you’re probably eager to jump into the details: considering what kind of light fittings and styles will achieve the effect you desire. This is the fun part: seeing it all come together! Before you buy, though, make sure you’re keeping your goals in mind at every step.
To recap, some of the most common lighting goals for your garden include:
- Highlighting architectural or natural features
- Ensuring safety and security, and
- Offering aesthetic impact and ambience.
To achieve any, or all, of these goals, there are a number of things you should keep in mind to help you find the right direction. This includes:
- The dimensions of your building and landscape
- Any natural or architectural features
- The way you use your outdoor space
- The style of your home, and the area you live in
It’s easy to get caught up in the practicalities of choosing specific fittings, but you can only end up with a beautiful, cohesive space if you keep the broader design in mind. Always consider how each specific light will fit in your space and how it will relate to other lights in your garden.
If you’re thinking this way, it’s finally time to consider what kinds of outdoor lights are available, and which are right for your space and needs. You might have something in mind already, but let’s look at your options.
Types Of Exterior Lights
There are types of exterior lighting to fit every different home, landscape, aesthetic and taste. Most gardens will benefit from a combination of multiple different kinds of lighting to create layers and to draw attention to different features of the space.
Some of the most common types of exterior lights include:
Garden spikes are exactly what they sound like: lights on spikes that stick into the ground, typically nestled amongst bushes and shrubbery. These spikes are suitable for soft ground like soil or grass, and may be fixed or adjustable, depending on your needs. Garden spikes are typically used to highlight trees and other natural features. Just like the garden post spikes you use for staking plants or the garden watering spikes that help keep your garden thriving, garden spikes disappear into the garden during the day while at night the light becomes a feature, falling softly on your plants and filtering through the leaves.
Garden spotlights are wall-mounted lights that project light out into the garden. Large outdoor garden spotlights are great as security lighting and for lighting up open spaces, while smaller spotlights for garden use can highlight individual plants or trees. Spotlights are similar to floodlights, but produce less light: perfect for smaller areas or for highlighting a particular architectural or garden feature.
If you've got a pond in your garden, pond lights are key. Not only does pond lighting look beautiful, it also serves a very important purpose, highlighting a possible hazard in your garden to ensure nobody stumbles in the dark and ends up in the water. LED pond lighting may light the water itself, or the area around your pond, but placing pond lighting underwater casts a gentle, glowing light that adds a unique sense of magic. LED pond lights should be marked as submersible and weatherproof, with an ingress protection rating of IP68. All your pond lighting connectors and wiring should be safe for use in and around water.
In ground lights are similar to garden spikes, but are sunk into concrete or another hard surface. In ground LED lights are among the most popular types of in ground lights for outdoor use, since they are extremely practical. If you want to keep all eyes on your garden night and day, in ground garden lights and in ground path lights are ideal. The lights are kept completely out of the way, preventing damage and remaining unobtrusive during the day. That means your garden and landscaping can speak for itself.
Garden bollard lights are quite different from many other styles of outdoor lighting, because they are designed to be a feature in themselves rather than to disappear into the garden. Bollard lights are exactly what they sound like: lights on bollards. Exterior bollard lighting sits above ground and illuminates a pathway or garden bed. For this reason, outdoor bollard lights should be appealing to look at. LED bollard lights are a great choice for the environment, without compromising on style.
Step lights are an important safety feature, ensuring nobody trips or misjudges the number of steps. Step lights are also decorative, highlighting the levels of steps as an architectural feature. Step lights for outdoor areas are typically low to the ground, and may be on the side or the front of the stair. Recessed step lights are a popular choice, as they look sleek and don't take up space or create a tripping hazard.
Deck lights are similar to in-ground lights, but they are sunk into a deck rather than the actual ground level. LED deck lights are a great choice for marking out the boundaries of the deck for both decorative and safety reasons. Outdoor deck lights should be weatherproof or have a suitable IP rating if they are placed in an area exposed to the elements, even if there is a roof or pergola overhead.
Outdoor Wall Lights
Outdoor wall lights for houses or commercial buildings are also known as exterior wall lights. Exterior wall lighting is usually in a fixed position on the wall, at around about eye level or above. There are a range of styles to choose from to match your aesthetic, whether you're interested in classic or modern outdoor wall lights, statement pieces or something unobtrusive. Outdoor wall lights can be fixed or adjustable, and can project light up and down. Like other lighting, LED outdoor wall lights are the perfect choice to keep your power usage low and be kind to the planet.
Festoon lighting is the perfect choice for outdoor party lighting, but of course it doesn't have to be reserved for when you're having a celebration! Festoon lights are also known as fairy lights: they're small lights on strings that can be hung in trees, over paths, along walls or above decks, the perfect choice for anyone looking for garden party lighting ideas. Festoon lighting is perfect for us in Australia, since we spend so much time outdoors. It brings a softness and a sense of magic to your garden. Use LED festoon lighting in outdoor spaces for sustainability, and to keep the party going longer between bulb changes.
Outdoor floodlights are very similar to spotlights but offer a wider distribution of light, and a lot more light: enough to ‘flood’ the area. These are usually used in very large spaces like tennis courts or expanses of open grass or paving. LED floodlights are a great choice for making these high-intensity lights more cost and energy-efficient.
Application Of Exterior Lights
When lighting your outdoor spaces, it’s important to think beyond just what types of lights you want to put in the area. The types of lights you choose will depend on the application you need them for, and a number of different types of lights can often work in conjunction to create the best lighting for each application. This is about keeping your eye on the bigger picture. For example, your outdoor lighting might include a number of applications: tree lighting, security lighting, entry lighting etc., but each of these applications may be made up of a number of different types of lighting
Some of the most common applications of exterior lights include:
A lot of thought, time and budget goes into getting your home landscaping perfect. After all that, you want people to be able to see and appreciate it! Great outdoor landscape lighting design can bring your garden to life at night by adding a moonlight sparkle. Some of the most popular landscape lighting ideas make use of garden spikes and in-ground lights. When your focus is lighting the landscape, it can be best to choose lights that recede into the surrounds during the day, so you get a touch of magic at night without the visual impact of light fittings when it’s daylight. For sustainability and longevity, consider LED landscape lighting (with landscape LED lighting you get the same amount of light while drawing less power). Landscape lighting in Australia should always take into consideration the unique challenges of the Aussie environment, including harsh weather conditions.
Your garden lighting overall is made up of a number of different areas and consideration, which might include tree lighting, ponds, a pool or spa, water features, landscape path lighting, driveway lighting and deck/pergola lighting. The trick is to make choices for each individual area while also keeping in mind the bigger picture and overall visual impact.
A garden water feature is exactly what its name suggests: a feature! That means you want to make the most of it, and using light to highlight it in the dark is a big part of this. There are a number of different water feature ideas for lighting, including spotlights, submerged lights, in-ground lights and wall lights. Each of these fitting types accentuate the movement in the water and offer a relaxing ambience to the landscape. LED water feature lights can be chosen to minimise power usage without relying on sunny days.
Architectural facade lighting is all about lighting the actual product of the build - the front of a home or business. When it comes to your house, facade lighting can show off the angles, materials and design features of the building, as well as creating a mood: bringing drama or softness. Facade lighting is usually a fixed product, which can sit up high in the ceiling, low on the wall, or at eye level. LED facade lighting is ideal, as it has minimal power requirements and a longevity that keeps your home lit up for longer.
Landscape pathway lighting is all about two things: visual impact and function. A pathway is one of the most important visual features in a garden during the day, whether it’s in your front yard or backyard. The right outdoor pathway lighting will carry this visual impact over into the night. A pathway also needs to be practical: people need to be able to find their way along it, and you want to be able to see who is coming or going for security purposes. Lighting the pathway to your front door also contributes to highlighting the entry of your home. There are a number of different light styles that are great for pathways: Pathway lighting bollards are a popular choice, as are garden spikes, in-ground lights and wall lights. Pathway bollard lighting adds a visual element during the day as well, while some other styles recede into the surrounds when not lit. For practicality, solar pathway lighting is common, along with LED pathway lighting or low voltage pathway lighting. Consider these options to maximise style while minimising your impact on the environment.
One of the centrepieces of your outdoor lighting is driveway lighting. Your driveway is typically a key feature of your front yard, so it’s important to get the lighting right. Driveway lighting ideas should always take into consideration the length and width of your driveway, as well as the context of the rest of your front garden. A sweeping driveway that extends hundreds of metres will have different lighting needs than one that is just long enough to park your car. Driveway entrance lighting ideas should also take into consideration the practical needs of the space, from hauling groceries to buckling kids into their car seats. Your lighting setup can be completely customised for you to make your selection even easier. Some popular lighting choices for the driveway include in-ground lights, garden spikes and bollard lights. Spotlights or floodlights can also be used to ensure the driveway area is well lit.
Pond lighting is available in a number of different styles, from spotlights projected down onto the area to submersible pond lighting underwater. A combination of the two will help you to create a pond lighting scheme that is both aesthetically pleasing and safe: both of which are important goals. Since ponds are usually a key feature in a garden, but can also be a hazard, it’s important to get the balance right! Depending on the style of your pond, a combination of pond lights, retaining wall lights, in-ground lights and spotlights may be used.
Deck Lighting / Pergola lighting (also known as Alfresco Lighting)
Your deck or pergola is the al fresco entertaining hub of your home, and the right outdoor deck lighting ideas or outdoor pergola lighting ideas can add a moonlight sparkle that will make your garden even more inviting all year round. There are two main types of deck and pergola lighting: Functional light usually shines from above, in the form of a spotlight or floodlight, while ambient light adds a glow using things like in-ground lights or wall lights along the back wall. Choosing your own lights individually, try to include both types of light for versatility and to create layers of lighting. When selecting deck lighting, always keep in mind this distinction between functional and ambient light, and place your lights accordingly. The right combination of lights in this space will create a sense of magic that will be the atmosphere of every event, from large parties to a quiet drink with your partner. Whatever type of lights you choose, deck lighting LEDs are ideal, keeping your power bill low and your home green.
Whether it’s lighting the pool for an all-important late night swim, or just to turn your pool into a visual feature, your choice of outdoor pool lighting is a big part of your overall lighting scheme. Pool lighting in Australia is especially popular thanks to our extended periods of warm weather, which make pools far more popular than in some other parts of the world. There are a range of pool lighting ideas to consider, from underwater lighting that makes your water glow to spotlights, wall lights or in-ground lights to light up the space around the pool. LED pool lighting is a great choice to minimise your use of power while still looking great. Pool lighting looks great, but it’s also an important safety feature, helping to keep your family safe around the water. Pool lighting is a specialty area of lighting and you should always consult an expert in pool lighting when choosing or installing these kind of lights.
Lighting For Security
One of the most common reasons people consider investing in exterior lighting for their home is because they are looking for ideas for home security lighting. Lights of any kind act as a deterrent to crime, letting people know somebody is home and making it easy for passers-by to spot anything out of the ordinary. Thankfully, exterior security lighting is not necessarily just floodlights and spotlights, which is what most people picture at first. Outside security lighting for homes can come in the form of in-ground lights, wall lights, garden spikes and other more subtle kinds of lighting, especially when it’s security lighting for residential needs and not for larger spaces. The best lighting for security will depend on your unique needs, but in many instances even just lighting the perimeter of your home can be effective. Your security lighting for outside the home can be attached to sensors or timers to make it perfect for your needs. This allows you to protect your home even when you’re not there.
One of the purposes of outdoor lighting is to help guests find their way into your home. Your outdoor entry lighting illuminates the area around your front door, helping people find their way in and out. Your exterior entry lighting illuminates all your ‘hello’s and ‘goodbye’s, so you want it to be fitting for the occasion! If you’re wondering how to choose entry lighting to match your style, browse our range of entry lighting and be inspired.
House Number Lighting
Lighting up your house number is about more than just aesthetics (although it looks fantastic!), it is important for making your home functional. The right exterior house number lighting will help guide guests to your next dinner party, and could even save your life in an emergency by helping emergency services find you fast. House number LED lighting is great environmentally friendly options. House numbers may be backlit, or a light may shine onto the house number from above or below.
Letterbox lighting highlights your letterbox, an important practical feature of your home. This also adds an extra layer to the layers of light in your front yard, which helps create dimension for a sophisticated look that guides the eye through the space. Letterbox lighting may be combined with house number lighting, if your house number and your letterbox are in the same spot.
A pergola is often one of the key features of an outdoor area, and the right choice of garden pergola lighting will make the most of it, creating atmosphere for your al fresco entertaining at night. Some of the most popular outdoor pergola lighting ideas include festoon lights strung through the rafters, spotlights in the corners, or in-ground lights pointing upwards along the beams. The right combination of lights in the space will create a sense of magic that will be the atmosphere of every event, from large parties to a quiet drink with your partner.
Retaining Wall Lighting
Retaining wall lighting ideas should highlight the wall as an architectural feature. The stark lines of a wall contrast with the organic shapes of trees, bushes and flowers, and the right garden lighting on your retaining wall will emphasise this. Retaining wall lighting kits come in a range of different styles and types, including lights in the side of the wall (usually pointing down towards the ground) and lights on top of the wall. The most popular choice, whatever the style, is retaining wall lighting with LED bulbs, to ensure low power usage with great longevity.
Trees are such a beautiful feature in any garden. If you’ve got a tree that defines your landscape during the day, you might be looking for outdoor tree lighting ideas to help you make the most of it at night. In-ground lighting and garden spotlights are common choices for this purpose. Spike lights may also be ideal for lighting your trees, if the soil around the tree is soft enough. The type and quantity of lighting that’s best for you will depend on a number of factors including the size and shape of the tree you are lighting.
Whatever part of your garden you are looking to light, there are a range of options to help make it perfect, and to truly add some sparkle to your home. When making your choice, always consider both the types of lights you might require, and the particular application, as well as the unique dimensions and layout of your space. This will allow you to achieve your lighting goals effectively, and when your garden is lit in a way that matches your goals, it’s truly magical.