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Let There Be Light

Garden Designs Blog by Josh Ellison

Winter is the time of extreme scarcity for natural light and undoubtedly the season in which garden designs featuring lighting will pay the most dividends – when it’s dark by four you won’t lose your outdoor space as it will still be visually and physically accessible to you. So, this piece will centre around the practical and aesthetic benefits of good lighting schemes.

Much like an art gallery, appropriate lighting can add wonderful depth to the appearance of a garden and, by curating its key features, you will draw attention to that of which you are most proud e.g. the bold foliage of that banana tree you’ve succeeded in raising to adolescence, or the surface of a water feature now bejewelled with a wonderful glow.

This element of electrical artistry also aids in making gardens a more hospitable, welcoming space for several reasons – you and your guests can look to your garden or driveway as a beacon in the darkness, considered a refuge from the world’s storms, much like the sailors of old would look upon the welcoming lighthouses of home.

If you are a parent then well-lit gardens can remove some of the sinister mystery your children might associate with the shadows and cultivate a healthy interest in the great outdoors – a characteristic sorely missing from today’s digitized childhoods.

There are a number of different garden designs or styles that call for certain types of lighting, if you are designing a classical Japanese garden then lanterns might be the final touch to complete that tableau. If it’s a more contemporary scheme, you might go for stainless steel fittings, for example.

Humanity’s relationship to light through history demonstrate that safety was always the primary concern and, while we’ve come some way since the naked torch in the forest, well-lit areas are, by definition, safer than poorly lit ones; and in the context of garden designs that may contain potential hazards such as, steps, raised walkways, ponds and pools, or even irritant plants like stinging nettles, this maxim loses none of its potency.

You might consider several different circuits of lights to create different moods, or timing devices to add further sophistication to the display. You might also go for a variety of colours – warm colours, like red and orange, for the winter and cooler shades of blue in the summer, for example?

Given the plethora of benefits that outdoor lighting carries you might be wondering what the catch is, be it cost or maintenance, but the truth is that, while these drawbacks used to be inherent in old fashioned lighting systems, there is now an alternative that is truly a magic bullet. Ladies and gentleman please raise the roof for LED lights – they don’t over-heat, require very little energy, are cheap to run and have a very long life, making replacement of bulbs a thing of the past.

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