Who wouldn’t want to follow this path into the cool night air? So you’ve spent hours perfecting your garden; considered the most functional layout, the prettiest features, comfortable furniture, interesting plants, and your lawn is your personal victory. It’s such a pleasure to have such a beautiful and calm space to enjoy. Weekends with family and friends, perhaps by the pool, pets and children frolicking in the open air. Though when the sun goes down you either have to rely on the cold and dim light from the distant streetlamp or huddle beneath the single patio or wall security light if you want to stay outdoors… but you’ll most likely you have to retreat indoors to the bright fluorescent lights like moths to the flame if you want to do anything constructive. But there is another alternative.
Now imagine soft, warm lighting claiming your garden back from the shadows. A winding path gently lit to guide the way, pools of light at familiar landmarks, foliage revealed, and intriguing accents of taller features invite you for a closer inspection. Incredibly, you’ll notice that your lovely allotment has suddenly taken on a completely different look. Areas that are shady during the day are now lit from within; forms take on a surprisingly more elegant façade; rhythm and pattern are enhanced as your garden quietly reveals its evening wear. Your eyes need less light outdoors than they do indoors in order to see, so outdoor lighting does not need to be especially strong or bright, but rather to gently balance out the darkness evenly. Your entire garden opens up as you are able to once again distinguish spaces no longer dazzled into oblivion competing with the well-lit house. If you’ve invested a lot of time (and money) into creating a multifunctional space, then you should not only be able to enjoy it during the day, but at night too. So what are you waiting for? Well garden lighting does not come cheap. It is essential to consult with a professional when planning. It may be expensive but bear in mind you are literally doubling your garden’s usability.
A well lit garden not only allows you enjoy the space after the sun sets, but is a great security feature too.
Elements to consider
- Paths: Welcomes guests and provides security when walking. Entries: speciality fixtures placed on either side of a doorway will set the tone for your whole home.
- Driveway: Low-voltage landscape lighting is essential to prevent dazzling the driver. Steps: reassurance and safety.
- Decks or Patios: illuminate specific common use and functional areas, such as a braai or seating area. Lights must be strong enough to allow for good visibility of tasks.
- Architectural Features: Can be highlighted with wide beams of light for accent and interest, and spots on feature plants really make them stand out. Ensure that you have considered the positioning and aiming of landscape lights to prevent glare directly into a person’s eyes, and to avoid wasted light and light pollution.
- Direct versus indirect light: Keep in mind that direct light will brighten the actual object it is directed at and indirect light will reflect on the surrounding surface of the object, creating a soft and gentle haze.
- Incandescent bulbs: Radiates great light but life span is short and electricity consumption high. Halogen bulbs: longer life span and less energy consumption. Fluorescents: great colour ranges available and less energy consumption. LED’s: expensive but becoming less so with long life and low energy consumption. Also they are now available in warm yellow tones, rather than cold white which they were initially only available in. (win!) For a comprehensive guide to installing your own lighting system, have a look at This Old House’s webpage All About Landscape Lighting for an illuminating look at the various components. The styles and fittings available for outdoor lighting are endless, so take a look at some beautiful examples on our Cape Contours Pinterest board to inspire your own personal style before deciding how best to make your garden shine.
A few final points to remember: Keep fixtures free of leaves and debris to prevent them from overheating. Replace burned-out bulbs immediately so that others on the circuit aren’t subject to life-shortening voltage overloads. Warranties on fixtures and transformers range from one to 10 years, but fixtures made of brass, copper, or stainless steel should shine indefinitely. If you’re concerned about electricity usage, you can minimise wattage by controlling the lights with timers, controls and dimmers. And although pricey, LED bulbs use almost 75% less power and last for an average of 20 years. So buy smart.