Outdoor garden lighting allows homeowners and guests to experience the full beauty of a garden without the presence of natural light.
In some respects, it even works better than natural light because it uses a variety of lighting fixture types to put specific garden elements in positions of special importance.
Uplighting is the most dramatic and intense of outdoor garden lighting techniques.
Its primary use is to intensify interest in garden focal points.
Focal points can be organic or inorganic by nature. Sometimes a small tree is used as a focal point in the center of a contemporary garden. This is commonly done to add scale. While the tree itself is a small-growth species that is physically limited in size by its very nature, uplighting its form will magnify its apparent size and add dimension to the entire garden.
Other focal points in gardens and garden courtyards include lighted fountains and statues. Again, uplighting these figures will grab the attention and direct it to the form. It will also better blend the manmade with the natural elements of garden design.
Downlights are used in outdoor garden lighting to bring out the natural beauty of plants.
What makes a garden a garden is not the color of the flowers. It is the varying layers of the color green that we see in different hedges, small trees, special grasses, and the stems and leaves of flowering plants. These subtle variations in greenery are not visible at night. Downlighting is the only effective means of bringing them to the forefront so the subtleties of the garden’s design can be appreciated in the absence of natural light.
More gardens than not have paths that people can stroll through. Path Lighting is needed along these transit areas.
We do not use path lighting so much for visibility as we do to achieve essential aesthetic affects. The human eye needs very little light to actually see. Path lighting is an art. It is one of the most decorative and customized forms of outdoor garden lighting—often using designer fixtures that look like tiny lanterns, mushrooms, and flowers that shine light along the way.
Step Lighting and specialty lighting pay tribute to the hardscape elements of gardens.
Most gardens have inorganic elements intermingled with vegetation. These elements can be something as simple as a gravel bed, or they can be small fountains, decorative urns, stones, or small brick patios.
Other gardens have patio design interwoven with vegetation plantings. This is how most garden courtyards are built. In all of these cases, specialty lights must be used to appropriately highlight the masonry and stone elements.
For garden outdoor walls, fixtures are often mounted on the walls themselves. For ascending and descending steps, special step lights are installed into the stairs themselves.
Underwater lights are used in outdoor garden lighting whenever there is a pond or fountain present.
Fiber optic or LED fixtures are used to shine illuminance from within the water itself. Other lights are sometimes used around ponds to shine light across the surface and highlight aquatic vegetation, nighttime wildlife, or koi.