How to: Choose outdoor lighting

By Andrew Bellino

Outdoor lighting is a great way of extending the use of your garden after dark in the summer months. It’s also a fantastic security measure.

Follow this guide to get you started.

Choosing the right light

There are several types of lighting available. Most fit into two categories:

Accent lighting

Accent lighting draws attention to areas you wish to highlight in your landscape, such as trees and sculptures. Accent lighting can also draw attention away from potential eyesores like the clothesline or garden shed.

Task lighting

Task lighting refers to lighting your landscape for practical reasons.

Examples include:

Preparing food
Moving safely around your garden across level changes

Decorative lighting

Decorative lighting is not only aesthetically pleasing, but enough decorative lighting can also aid vision over evening dinner and drinks

Power sources

Generally you will be choosing between solar power and mains power electricity (and perhaps even a few candles).


Solar energy is better for the environment given that it’s a renewable resource. Outdoor solar powered lights charge during the day and can be put into use when the sun sets.

Pro: No unsightly cables. Generally, you just need to stick the lights in the ground and away you go.

Con: Generally not as bright as electric lights, making them unsuitable as spotlights or in climates that receive little sunlight.


If you want bright light then electricity is the way to go.

You’ll most likely need a transformer, which acts like a power board. The transformer is plugged the power point and lights are plugged into it.

Make sure you follow the instructions, or ask a professional, about the number of lights you should attach to one single transformer. You may need more than one in your outdoor space to ensure you don’t blow a fuse.

Electric lights generally require wiring and cables. As long as you use a 12 Volt transformer, installation can be satisfying a DIY project.

Outdoor lighting types

Halogen lights and LED lights come in two basic options:


Halogen lights are the original landscape lights. They produce a yellow light, use more energy than LED lights and can become hot to touch.

Light Emitting Diode (or LED)

LEDs produce a much purer white light, which portrays a truer colour of the landscape. LEDs are up to generally more cost effective and are not hot to the touch.

Lighting designs

The options are endless. The main lighting designs are:

Uplighting: Light is directed upwards to highlight a feature such as a tree. They also provide a bit of light for the surrounding areas.

Spotlights: Spotlights are a bright light aimed at one particular feature such as a tree, sculpture or water feature.

Downlights: As the name suggests, downlights are positioned at a high level and light downwards. An example would be a light in the roof of a carport, shining down on the car.

Path lights: Path lights are used for safety and security. Place them at intervals along your path or walkway.

Surface lighting: Surface lights are built into walls, highlight deck and step surfaces and can be put in the ground. They enhance security and visibility.

Wall lighting: Wall lights are flat panels built into the wall. They can illuminate feature walls and can highlight your boundary as a security measure.

Article courtesy of

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