Lighting, if it is properly used, can completely change the look and atmosphere of yourat night. At the touch of a switch the whole scene is illuminated, and you are in control. You can draw attention to the things that you want people to see, such as flowering plants, an attractively shaped specimen tree, a climber in bloom, and leave items such as dustbins or an untidy bed in darkness.
There are several different types of lights to choose from, depending on the effect that you want to make. Floodlights can be fixed to light up the entireor to illuminate one end wall. They are usually fixed high up on the house itself and angled. Spotlights give a far more intimate effect and are usually fixed on brackets on a wall or on spikes that you can insert into a flower bed. They are very effective for drawing attention to one particular item – a statue, for instance, or a tree or plant with striking foliage. They can also be used as down-lighting over a barbecue so that the cook can work more easily.
Moving water is the most spectacularly rewarding of all patio features when lit up after dark. By far the best effects come from submerged lamps – which must, of course, be a type made specifically for that purpose. Water looks at its best lit from below and behind. A lamp shining up behind a fountain, for instance, turns it into a rippling sheet of molten coloured glass.
Candles in barbecue lanterns or jamjars can make attractive occasional or temporary lighting if you are eating outdoors. Giant church candles are also excellent and they are stable enough to be stood on their own on the patio floor. Coloured flares and nightlights, which are now obtainable almost everywhere, give the patio a gala look and are particularly good for parties. They are generally available on thin canes.