As the majority of us head indoors to seek warmth from the bitter weather outside, the poor old garden can sometimes be neglected. The death of vibrant summer flowers would suggest all life has been zapped away from the garden, and unless you are part of a hardened green fingered collective, the garden becomes somewhat redundant and serves little purpose other than being a playground for Mr robin redbreast.
In some ways that’s true, you’d be considered a nutter if you were to set up seating outside in November, December and January. Yet the garden isn’t all about basking outside and relaxing, you can admire it from inside your home too. But with the nights drawing in early and the mornings being just as bad – how much of your garden will you actually be able to see?
How can you stop your garden from freezing over and turning into an undervalued space?
To answer the question in short – it’s lights. Lights can keep your garden alive during winter time.
Lighting can generally be split into three different sections:
- Ambient lighting – main source of light.
- Task lighting – for a particular job.
- Accent lighting – to enhance specific features.
For the outside there are generally just two sections, accent and task, this is because task lighting such as security lights will often act as ambient lighting (the main source of light) for the garden. This leaves style and practicality battling it out for a spot in your garden. You can even adopt both if you get the balance right.
If you have a stand out tree, hedgerow, ornament or structure that you’d like to highlight in the garden then accent lighting will help you to enhance its character. Considering you want your piece to attract all the glory, you don’t want a big bulky light fitting to get in the way and spoil its presence, so you’ll need to be crafty about what lighting you use. Accentuating a feature using light is always best achieved when the actual light fitting is concealed, camouflaged or partially on show. Sometimes less is more.
What garden lights are favored when it comes to accentuating a feature?
There’s a few installations that can help you emit a glow over your focal point without being intrusive and they are:
Ground Lights: Often used in stairs, pathways or drives, ground lights pose a real advantage to those looking for a hidden light source. The lamp, fitting and any additional accessories such as transformers or cabling are all sunk into the ground to maximize space and retain a smooth surface. Some ground lights are that powerful they have no problem highlighting tall structures such as trees. Lighting up tree canopies can add real drama to your garden’s backdrop, what’s more some ground lights are known to use experimental colors helping to deliver extra spice to the ambiance outside. These lights are often called RGBs (Red, Green & Blue).
Spike Lights: These lights use a slim pole like shape to limit the amount of space used. The pole structure comes with one sharp spike at the bottom to safely lodge into the ground with the top of the pole accommodating a lamp to enable pinpoint illumination. Spike lights are often installed among the actual feature you wish to illuminate, this proves to be a popular format for lighting up shrubs or plant beds.
Strip Lights: Probably the most flexible of all the lighting systems, a strip light uses an adhesive backing so it can stick on top of flat surfaces. Strip lights are usually bought by the meter and can be attached with one another using linking accessories. Each strip will have tiny LEDs inserted inside, which when all emitting will create a combined glow to light up the feature. Strip lights can also be concealed inside of crevices and structures to create the illusion that the light source magically appears from nowhere.
What are best practical garden lights to ensure clarity and safety?
This is more about function and what tasks you’d like your lighting to perform:
Bollard Lights: The masters of the roadside, drive or path, they can aid visibility for people walking down the path or parking up on a dark winter’s night. Bollards are there to be seen and despite originally being made to help moor boats quayside and since evolving to stop traffic from entering forbidden routes, they’ve undergone a stylish revamp to add an ornamental and practical solution to outdoor lighting.
Security Lights: These practical lights are not there to look good (although some modern models do) but they are there to buffer safety in and around the home. They also act as a great deterrent against would-be thieves who may be eyeing up a property. Security lights are also considered as an energy efficient choice, this is because most of them come complete with PIRs (passive infra-red sensors) meaning the lamp will only switch on when movement is detected.
Flood Lights: Often used in commercial settings due to their great distribution of light, flood lights act as one of the best methods for lighting large courtyards, patios and garage drives. The difference between floodlights and spotlights is that a spotlight produces a concentrated beam – ideal for targeting specific objects and features, whereas a floodlight will light a vaster range which is perfect for illuminating entire areas.
Selecting garden lighting for the winter time is all dependent on the size of your space, your expenditure and what it actually is you wish to achieve. If you only need a light for your porch or shed then a simple spotlight or motion sensor light will do. Yet if you have more elaborate plans and you’d like emphasize a garden feature then installing some strip lights or spike lights can help to accurately highlight its appearance, thus creating further drama in the garden.
Remember: Every piece of lighting comes with an IP rating. This rating scores whether the light system is suitable or not to be installed in a particular area, usually concentrating on its resistance against water and dust infiltration. Most outdoor lights should aim for an IP rating of IP54 or above.
Written by Tom Bray – Content & Marketing for online electrical wholesaler Direct Trade Supplies.