Home / News / garden lighting

garden lighting

Aug 22, 2023Aug 22, 2023

Choosing good garden lighting has never been easier. Here's how to decide what’s right for yo

For style leaders and design lovers.

Thank you for signing up to LivingEtc. You will receive a verification email shortly.

There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.

The demand for garden lighting has increased rapidly in recent years as we’re all spending more time outside. The trend for replacing back walls with plate-glass windows and bi-folding doors means that our gardens are now more integrated with our homes too. “Garden lighting prevents our outside spaces seeming like dark black holes when viewed from inside the house,” says garden designer Kate Gould (

When choosing a lighting design opt for something that works for you and your space. “Always err on the side of caution,” says Kate. “You can always add extra lights, but taking them away is more difficult. Adding drama where you have architectural plants or forms and contrasting those with spaces where there are no lights is a great way of enhancing the focal point.”

So whether you want to add discreet up-lights to enhance your plants, create an ambient living room vibe on your patio or opt for overhead pendant lights on a terrace, read on for our round-up of the latest ideas.

See these modern garden ideas for more inspiration

“Concrete is a very fashionable material for contemporary spaces at the moment due to its versatility and the variety of tones available. It also adds an industrial feel,” says Christopher Wray MD Chris Jordan. Hanging shades like these Aplomb pendants need a structure to suspend them from, such as a covered terrace. Alternatively you can use a post or wall bracket with an extended arm but it needs to be able to withstand changeable weather scenarios as well as the weight of the light fitting itself.

This versatile Beem pendant light offers dimmable lights with a built-in heater too and comes in a range of sizes. Its slick contemporary look will add a stylish note to any alfresco set-up. The dimmable outdoor dining lighting idea comes with a remote and there are two levels of heating to choose from, so if things get chilly you can extend the time you spend outside. There is also a misting version available that you can control via a phone app if temperatures hot up.

Why choose three different styles of lighting when one will do them all. This clever designer light can be used as either a table lamp, floor lamp or wall light, or all three if you opt for the accessories too. There are also electric or battery operated versions available so you can use it indoors or out. It comes in a choice of bronze lacquered metal or chromed metal, and is designed by Contardi, creators of bespoke lighting whose collaborations include the Giorgio Armani Group, B&B Italia and Giorgetti.

Soft, subtle lighting from festoon lights and outdoor table lamps adds an ambient glow for that indoor-outdoor living room moment. Designed by Edward Barder and Jay Osgerby for Flos, the minimalist Bellhop table lamp features an integrated LED with a 4-step dimmer function in the base and an integrated diffuser enhances the warm wash of light. The Festoon Outdoor Line Lights are 9.5 metres long, which means plenty for looping around a courtyard patio to create a magical touch at dusk.

Find more cool ideas in small backyard ideas

These flush contemporary bulkhead lights by Industville work for both interior and exterior spaces. Hand-crafted in aluminium with a smooth gunmetal finish for an industrial-style feel that blends both classic and modern, this style of vintage lighting has become a staple of current industrial design. Place them strategically to cascade light where you need it. Pair with LED Edison filament bulbs to enhance the vintage feel. Recent Industville collaborations include Liberty and Paul’s Parisian bakery.

Outdoor spaces used for relaxation and entertaining can be lit in a similar way to indoors with low-level lamps. The calming ambient light of the Carrie lamp adds a little hygge to your patio space. Suitable for using both indoors and out, it comes with a USB charging port so you can move seamlessly around. Designed by Copenhagen’s Norm Architects, it’s made of blown opal glass and powder coated steel and comes in a range of finishes including burned red and brushed brass.

“Treat the outdoors like the indoors,” says Christopher Wray MD Chris Jordan. “By using a combination of recessed lighting, decorative lanterns and free-standing decorative floor lamps you’ll be able to create a blended indoor-outdoor dining area that’s perfect for a relaxed atmosphere.” This overhanging Twiggy floor lamp features a round metal base, arched stem and height adjustable lampshade fitted with 2 LED boards and diffuser for dual effect - choose direct down-light or diffused up-light.

Garden lighting has been revolutionized by improved LEDs, which are energy efficient and one of the safest options for outdoors. These warm white LED bulbs can be clipped to outdoor structures so you can make more of your space in the evening by creating a more intimate setting. They’re 9.5 metres long and the set includes an extension which allows up to 5 sets to be interconnected if you want an easy option for lighting a bigger party space.

Discreet lighting can be used to create a showpiece and welcoming ambience for the evening garden. Plants take on architectural qualities when uplit, the angled lights enhancing the shape of leaves. Choose up-lights that are either recessed into the ground or set on moveable spikes for illuminating plants and the trunks of potted trees, as they can be shifted to suit the mood. Or choose modern planters with built-in LED lighting, like this one from Elho, which can be controlled with a phone app.

Decorative garden wall lights cast a cosy glow that illuminates an outdoor space and brings it to life. “This year has seen a transition into warmer metals such as rose gold, brass and copper for garden lighting,” says Jamie Moxie of Dusk Lighting. “These warm metals are perfect to amplify a ‘cosy glow’, and therefore ideal for creating a snug and welcoming garden setting.” This Harvard wall light in natural brass from Astro Lighting is also available in bronze as well as stainless steel.

LED festoon lights running from a transformer are simple to install, and look great woven through shrubs and trees in any garden setting. Floodlights are another way to add night-time drama to trees. Think about up-lighting architectural plants, water features, living walls and garden art. Low-level lighting in steps, walls and decks throws out a soft light without glare.

Draw up a plan, working out what each area needs, then talk through your ideas with an electrician. Unless you’re using solar-powered lights you’ll need a power supply which means outdoor sockets and a switch plus armoured cabling for safety. LED lights are energy efficient and there is now a huge range available to choose from. If your garden is sunny consider solar-powered lighting but remember it’s not such a good option in winter. Avoid flooding the garden with light as it looks too harsh.

With the exception of solar powered lighting and candles, all other garden lights need to be connected to the mains. Solar lights can be used to edge paths and patios, and enhance planting. Some are suitable to use as spotlights too. They’re most effective in an open spot with enough sunlight and their performance is not as good in winter. There’s now a huge choice available and good quality ones can last up to 20 years. To create atmosphere also consider flameless electric candles or real candles in hurricane lamps.

The most practical option for garden lighting is electricity. It will illuminate your outdoor space at the flick of a switch and will last for years, can operate on a timer to enhance security and is a versatile choice in terms of the range of effects that can be achieved. It can be run off the mains power or via a transformer but you will need an electrician to carry out the work to a professional standard.

See the latest Landscaping trends to make the best use of your space

For style leaders and design lovers.

Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Easy Gardens and Modern Gardens magazines. Her first job on glossy magazines was at Elle, during which time a visit to the legendary La Colombe d'Or in St-Paul-de-Vence led to an interest in all things gardening. Later as lifestyle editor at Country Homes & Interiors magazine the real pull was the run of captivating country gardens that were featured. Having studied introductory garden and landscape design as well as a course in floristry she is currently putting the skills learned to good use in her own garden where the dream is establishing a cutting garden.

From luxurious dinner plates to stylish salt and pepper shakers, we found the ideal gifts for the new homeowners in your life

By Valeza BakolliPublished 4 August 23

The Livingetc team has chosen the 12 best small rugs which show you can still layer comfort and style into even the tiniest of rooms

By Faaizah ShahPublished 4 August 23

Our front door ideas will guide you through picking out the most practical, and stylish design to create a beautiful first impression

By Hebe HattonPublished 13 January 22

These small backyard ideas add masses of style to small outdoor spaces

By Caroline DonaldLast updated 24 August 22

Our favourite modern front garden ideas to transform your outdoor space

By Sarah WilsonLast updated 8 March 21

These garden border ideas will create a focal point, drawing the eye with a combination of colour, shape and texture

By Sarah WilsonLast updated 14 December 20

Bag these essentials for bonfire night and outdoor Autumn entertaining

By Jacky ParkerLast updated 14 December 20

Starting a modern vegetable garden in containers or raised beds? Here are the 10 things you need to grow

By Sarah WilsonLast updated 1 March 21

Here's everything you need to know about how to build an outdoor kitchen, with expert advice for when just a barbecue isn't enough

By Ruth DohertyLast updated 6 July 21

The rewilding trend could mean that patch of lawn you’ve mown all summer is about to bloom

By Lotte BrouwerLast updated 18 January 21

See these modern garden ideas for more inspirationFind more cool ideas in small backyard ideasSee the latest Landscaping trends to make the best use of your space