Author:  Nadia Pomare, Stylish Gardens


Gardens tend to be thought of in terms of sunlight, and shade. Layout is planned according to aspect and the seasonal path of the sun. Rarely is a garden considered in terms of its night-life. Interior lighting can make or break of the mood of a room, but the garden is left to darkness and a secret nocturnal nightlife.

By lighting your garden you can tap into a whole new aspect of your outdoor space - this can be used to great effect where you have an integrated indoor/outdoor entertaining area. Clever lighting can soften the edge of darkness created by bright interiors, and show off your garden in a whole new light.

Creating a night garden takes more than pointing a spotlight and hoping it will highlight a feature plant. In fact, creating a beautiful night garden requires some experimentation, and an understanding of how different lighting types are suitable for different effects.

Outdoor entertaining area

- if you have an out door entertaining area your lighting needs to illuminate, but not shine. At night there is nothing more disorienting than a bright light in your eyes. Avoid direct beams of light and look for sources of soft light and place them carefully so there is no glare. Make use of nearby surfaces such as pots, walls, and fences to bounce soft light back into an area giving it a welcoming sense of atmosphere.

Paths and steps

- If paths are smooth, simple bollard style way-finding lights can be used. There are many solar-powered versions on the market that come on automatically each evening at dusk. If your path is rough or cobbled, make sure it is clearly illuminated by using soft down-facing spots. Light each step clearly and evenly and make sure there is no glare whether ascending or descending. 


- Isolating a tree with up-lighting will reveal another aspect of its beauty. If the tree is deciduous, there will be layers of the seasonal change as well. Make sure you check all angles when you place an up-light to make sure there is no direct glare particularly if it is near a path or steps.

Rockeries and garden beds

- by keeping lighting to a small glow, feature plants, rockeries and garden beds take on an ethereal beauty, softening strong forms such as succulents and bromeliads.

Water features

- Small ponds, water features and even swimming pools are transformed by light. Best effects are created when water is lit from below to cast watery patterns of light and shadow on surrounding plants and trees.

Looking for great ideas for getting the very best from your outdoor spaces, day or night? Contact Stylish Gardens for a consultation.