Landscaping Lighting
Careful planning creative lighting can bring your garden and landscape features alive at night and provide extra security and safety.

A great enhancement

You main aim with landscape lighting will probably be a combination of safety, security and, most of all, enhancing the beauty of your garden and outside structures.

Begin by determining your main focal points, the areas most in use, and the style or mood you wish to create.

A scaled down site map will help, showing the areas and features that need illumination. This will help you with ideas for the effects you want to create and should include the functional aspects such as lighting to make walkways safe at night. Low levels of light can be very effective in a garden, reserving brighter lighting for focal points or high traffic areas.



Landscape lighting is available in different power configurations: standard 240 voltage systems and low voltage systems. Standard systems must be installed by an electrician and are most suitable for large areas or if your main consideration is security.

Low voltage systems are easy to use and are safe, economical, energy efficient and offer a number of benefits.

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Low voltage

Once you know where your lights should be, your electrician can design the electrical system. At the centre of this system is the transformer which converts household electricity (240 volts) into a safe 12 volts and delivers this to several circuits. With appropriately sized cables and approved connectors, fixtures are connected to the transformer.

The number of fixtures on each circuit will be limited by the wattage of individual lamps, distance from the transformer and the associated voltage drop in the circuit.

Excess voltage results in hot lamps with a greatly shortened life: insufficient voltage provides a weak and disappointing effect.

When you arrange to have your lighting installed allow for plenty of future movement in the position of fixtures and lamps. With extra cable at each fixture you can change the system after installation and make adjustments after several years of plant growth.

Landscaping Lighting








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Functions
  • Pathway lights - These illuminate the specific area directly beneath and within a metre or so of the light fixture, like a driveway or walkway. Space them two to three metres apart - any closer and your walkway will look like a landing strip at night.
  •  Area lights - Are sometimes called spot, wash, flood or uplights and they spread the illumination over a particular item or larger areas and can be used to highlight walls, trees, shrubs, statues and so on. These lights invite creativity and can give you the most dramatic effects.
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Techniques
Landscape lighting is available in different power configurations: standard 240 voltage systems and low voltage systems. Standard systems must be installed by an electrician and are most suitable for large areas or if your main consideration is security.
  • Uplighting focuses attention on an object from a low fixture location. The object can be a shrub, tree or architectural feature. The type of fixture used will depend on the size of the plant or the area to be illuminated.
  • Pathlighting uses low fixtures which direct illumination down and outward and the fixtures are shielded on top to prevent glare. They are used anywhere that safe night access is required.
  • Downlighting (or moonlighting) illuminates general areas for safety, security and aesthetics and can be achieved with bullet type fixtures placed above eye level on a structure (or even in a tree). Fixtures and lamps can be chosen to meet the required brightness and width of illumination.
  •  Backlighting (or silhouette lighting) provides a special effect by illuminating a fairly large surface (like a wall) using a wash light fixture. This causes objects in front of the lighting to appear as silhouettes.
  • Shadowing, conversely, uses lights directed toward a wall but placed in front of particular objects so that shadows play on the wall.

    There are numerous other techniques and combinations of techniques that can extend the use of your outdoor space while providing safety, atmosphere and space definition.


    The practical and aesthetic effects created by landscape lighting can bring into play all the existing features of architecture, landscape and plants.

    Landscaping Lighting







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Tips
  • Shop around, there's a wide range of low voltage lighting available. Just remember that the fixtures are exposed to the elements - durability matters so be wary of buying on price alone.
  • Remember when planning to think about the changing lighting requirements throughout the seasons.
  • Experiment with a wide variety of wattage until arriving at light levels that are the most pleasing.
  • Use up-lighting on large objects from three directions to enhance their three dimensional look.
  • Consider the amount of light required to achieve the look you are after. If the lights are too bright it will make it hard for you and your guests to see clearly.
  • Consider all of the lighting techniques and their different effects and combine them for a unique result.
  • Think about hiding the lamps below the ground level under trees or in the middle of a lawn so that the light source is not obvious.
  • Consider using timers to turn on lighting schemes automatically. This is also a great security device while the house is empty.
  • An easy way to add light to the garden without wiring is by using solar-powered lights. They are stand-alone lamps and an easy way to starting your first lighting project.

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