If you have created something beautiful, it is a great sadness not to be able to appreciate its beauty after sunset. If you think ofas another room, is it not odd to have a room you cannot use after dark? So it is well worth the trouble of installing garden lighting or just one light, if only to make a large-leafed plant at the far end of the garden look more interesting, or so that you can admire the magic of the garden on the rare occasions it is covered in snow. More importantly, a garden’s shortcomings are disguised in artificial light.
The drama and contrast achieved by lighting is mainly due to the fact that artificial light tends to come from the side or below the plant, whereas nature throws her daylight from above. The different angle of light contributes to the dramatic effect.
Lighting is also an excellent deterrent against intruders, recommended by Crime Watch as one of the best ways to keep down the instances of breaking and entering over garden walls and through back yards or tiny back gardens.
I must stress that installing a simple garden light is not expensive. Try to have the switch inside so that if you hear a noise – even if it is only the cat – you can switch on the light from inside. A small price to pay towards personal and property safety.
Locks and lights make good sense. It is false security and foolish economy to imagine that if you have nothing to steal no one will bother you. ‘No one’ doesn’t know that you have nothing until ‘no one’ is in there looking and if you disturb that ‘no one’ you’ll wish you hadn’t.
Illuminate side passages, patios, small terraces, back yards, back gardens, even front gardens if they are dark, with a simple utility garden light. It’s worth it.
A high-powered mains system lighting the whole garden is an expensive luxury and needs to be carefully considered at the planning stage, with electric points strategically placed round the garden, plus the main switch to turn the lights off and on installed conveniently inside the kitchen door. If you have to crawl on your hands and knees to the back of the dust bin shed to turn it off and on, it will never be used.
Should you not wish to splash out and have lights placed round the whole garden, it is worth considering lighting a special feature, especially in a town garden. Whether it is a fountain or statue or tree, the rules are the same: the switch must be easily accessible inside the house and the light should be considered at planning stage and professionally installed. Even an ordinary ornament or pot lit at night by a low power light will suddenly take on a fresh dimension.
If you don’t want to install a high-powered mains system, there are plenty of low-voltage garden lights that are less expensive and which will do the job quite satisfactorily in a small garden.
Garden candles, hurricane lamps and fairy lights are very pretty and ideal for a party, but for day to day use a simple electric garden light fixed to the back of the house is invaluable and more practical. N.B. Always extinguish garden candles after use, do not leave them to start a fire and preferably place them on stone paving or a hard non-inflammable surface.
When your lighting is in place, try focusing the light at different angles so as to achieve the most interesting and exciting effect. If the light doesn’t look right, try out a new angle to improve the result.
Children and lights: it is not advisable to have a complicated lighting system where there are children. One or two security lights fixed to the house will be safe and adequate.
Both ponds and electricity should always be avoided when there are young children.
If you are redesigning your whole garden and you can’t afford lighting at construction stage, lay the cables or pipes (called ducts) under paving or underground. If these are laid when constructing the garden, it will save money and a great deal of inconvenience later on when the lighting is installed.
It’s important not to forget to put a piece of nylon string through the duct so as to draw the cable through at a later date. Remember to secure the end of the string in a place where you can find it again, otherwise all this preparation is wasted.