Let al fresco living go on way past sunset with these outdoor lighting ideas—there’s something for every size and style of garden be it a bijou city balcony or a country manor’s glamorous grounds.
If you were thinking garden lighting design was a case of festoon lights and the occasional candle, guess again. There’s everything from outside uplighters to front door lights to welcome into the mix.
Image Credit: Elstead Lighting
Go outside and look up. If your luxury garden furniture is in a sheltered area, see the canopy as your exterior’s answer to a ceiling, ripe for hanging pendant lights from.
This garden lighting idea is all about making sure your garden feels like a serious contender for any interior rooms.
Supporting beams and rafters provide the perfect hanging spot so that you can hang chandeliers at a height that suits the space and run the cables along them. If you want them wired in, seek out the advice from an electrician who’ll be able to advise what’s feasible.
Otherwise, look out for outdoor hanging lights that are solar-powered or even candle-lit chandeliers.
Image Credit: Sims Hilditch
Next up on the outdoor lighting list are wall lights which will achieve a few things for scene-setting.
First, they move the lighting into the mid-section, and everybody knows that you need to spread light sources from ceiling to floor to create a soothing atmosphere.
Second, choose wall lights that serve as outdoor uplighting and you can use them to highlight architectural detail at different heights in your garden.
And third, flank an exterior door with wall lights or a statement window and they’ll frame it, put focus on it and make a feature out of it.
Image Credit: Alexander Joseph
One of the best outside lights around, the cordless lamp introduces ambient, living interior-esque lighting but without the complication of outdoor electrical sockets.
Designs have come on vastly in recent years too, promoting them to worthy contenders to their interior siblings—this Alexander Joseph shot is evidence to that.
If you have an outdoor relaxed seating zone, introduce one as a garden table light just as you would sofa-side in a living room. Or if you find a design that’s tall enough, let it stand central on your dining table.
Image Credit: A.LONDON
This type of outdoor garden light is fast-becoming a favourite in contemporary homes especially. The reason typically being because the light sources themselves are a more modern garden light design with minimal decoration, clean lines and often monochromatic in palette or concrete grey.
What makes them such an intelligent exterior lighting idea is how they take the wall light up a level by throwing light on what’s directly above and below the bulb, which is why they’re so successful at emphasising textural parts of the garden.
But if you’re struggling to find one that suits your style, use standard garden uplights that you can angle so the beam direction changes from sconce to sconce.
Image Credit: Harbour
One of the best garden light options are candles and not just candlesticks on the garden table. Make garden illumination more creative by experimenting with alternative candle vessels from galvanised lanterns placed on the floor with white pillar candles inside to smaller ones hung from shepherd’s hooks in the lawn.
American interior designer Monica Wilcox is a big fan of mason jars as tea light holders. “You can string them along a tree line or use them as a focal point to highlight a sitting area you have created.”
She also suggests upping the ante on the flame by pitching torches around your garden: “A Tiki Torch Display is so awesome and so doable! You can actually just place them around your backyard, they really add an air of relaxation and warmth to any space.”
But if you want to avoid a naked flame, do as McClain does and: “Buy small, metal lanterns and insert battery powered (with remote control) candles inside. Hang the lanterns at varying heights on a backyard tree (start as high as you can get and work your way down in a random pattern). With one push of the remote control, you will have instant lighting. I even set my candles to turn on at a specific time each night so that the trees become a flickering beauty without any work from me.”
Image Credit: Finchatton
Some of your choices will be purely decorative garden lights whereas others will serve a precise function, such as the exterior house light you put outside the front door.
When night falls, being greeted with a warm glow as you approach the door makes the atmosphere ten times more inviting. Plus, it puts an end to rooting inside your bag for your keys or using the torch on your phone to guide the way.
Some front door lights come with a motion sensor too so they’ll illuminate all by themselves as soon as it detects footsteps approaching (meaning they have the added bonus of behaving as a security light too).
Image Credit: Selman Marrakech
If there were one rule for outdoor lighting design it would be to mirror what you see indoors. So follow the same living room lamp mentality by selecting floor standing forms as one of your outside garden lights.
Outdoor heaters often have the floor lamp aesthetic making them worth consideration because they’ll serve you with the heat, the light and the look. But look even lower than that and take the bulb itself down to the floor.
Interior designer John McClain suggests as an outdoor patio lighting idea: “Add battery-operated step lights on patio and lanai steps that have motion sensors. Guests will be amazed as their path lights up with each step they take! (Yes, these really exist!) You could even add them around the border of your decking or back yard perimeter of your house to for extra drama.”
Image Credit: Jennifer Post Design
Not all outside lighting ideas need to come from a bulb (as moonbeams and starlight go to show). Amongst the best outdoor lighting suggestions are the ones that have a different purpose with light being simply a happy consequence. Suggestions like fire pits.
Whether you decide on a freestanding design or one that’s built-in with bricks as the body and slabs for sitting on around the edges, nothing quite beats the light that spits out of a fire’s embers. After all, not all light sources are suitable for marshmallow-toasting either.