How to Design Garden Lighting

Garden globe light with vine resembles moonlight. image by garden globe light, clarita/; pool lights, somadjinn/; lamp post, luisrock62/


To get the most pleasure from your garden, use it not only in the daylight hours but for twilight entertaining or as your hub for evening relaxation. Garden lighting makes this possible. Think of soft, subtle illumination for your flower beds, shrubbery, deck or patio. Plan for plenty of area lighting for poolside safety and use spot lighting for cooking or eating areas. Consider solar lights for efficiency and practicality.

Customize Your Garden Lighting Design

Step 1

Evaluate your garden space and how you plan to use it. Choose the places where you want permanent, hardwired lighting with switch capability. Decide if you will need bright lights on your patio, perhaps above a table where you will entertain. Plan where you need safety lights on pathways, steps or in dark corners. Make an evaluation when it is dark. You will have a completely different feeling in the dark than if you imagine the darkness during daylight. Use flashlights and check out lighting from different places and angles. Notice shadows and reflections from water or glass and how they interact with different lighting options.

Step 2

Use underwater lights in a pool or garden pond for soft, subdued lighting. Combine them with small fountains to contribute to an overall effect. Both underwater pond lights and small fountains can be solar powered, so proximity to electrical service is not necessary.

Step 3

Consider installing solar lights, which work in any season, even if they are covered by snow in northern climates. Solar lights can be moved from place to place for a quick redesign any time of the year. Solar-powered garden up-lighting that highlights shrubs and flowers in the summer can be moved to highlight evergreens, seasonal decorations or other interesting areas of your garden during the fall and winter. Design your garden lighting plan with all seasons in mind.

Step 4

Study magazines and catalogs for inspiration for your garden lighting design. Landscape lights are available in a wide range of styles, from sleek and chic to natural, rustic pieces. Small, functional lights are inexpensive and will provide the light you want. Or use your lighting design to incorporate another dimension of artistic expression into your garden. Decorative garden lights can lend sculptural elements to your garden, whether they are turned on or off. Illumination from different sources creates depth and perspective that sunlight does not convey. Diffused light or direct light can change the textural appearance of planting beds and foliage.

Step 5

Take into account how your lighting will affect your neighbors. You don't want to have bright lights shining near their bedroom windows. Try to create a lighting design on your property that doesn't compete with theirs. Strategically placed lights will enhance your property and will not distract from your neighbor's.

Things You'll Need

  • Sketch paper
  • Pencil
  • Magazines and catalogs


  • Planning your garden lighting
  • Garden lights and ideas

Who Can Help

  • Guide to garden and landscape lighting
  • Solar garden light ideas
Keywords: garden lighting design, design custom garden lighting plan, landscape lighting for garden

About this Author

Fern Fischer is a freelance writer with more than 35 years' experience. Her work has been published in various print and online publications. She specializes in organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles. Fischer also writes about quilting and sewing, and she professionally restores antique quilts to preserve these historical pieces of women's art.

Photo by: garden globe light, clarita/; pool lights, somadjinn/; lamp post, luisrock62/