Garden Design (2015)
By underlighting a block table and slatted timber seat, this intimate urban garden takes on a completely different persona at night, with objects appearing to float as the sun sets and the lighting dominates.
DESIGN BY CHARLOTTE ROWE
SENSITIVELY DESIGNED lighting schemes can transform a daytime garden into a magical, mysterious landscape at night, illuminating features such as trees and ornaments, while also lighting the way and allowing safe passage through the space after dark.
Modern gardens are expected to serve and entertain their owners throughout the year and at most times of the day and evening, making lighting key to their effectiveness. Functional, practical and decorative, lighting can transcend the ordinary and commonplace with designs of real beauty and imagination. By highlighting or embellishing what is already there, a daytime scene can be transformed into a magical landscape, either unifying and simplifying the design intent or morphing it into something dramatically different.
Lights can distort or create new spatial relationships between various features and alter the way we perceive them and the spaces they inhabit. They also draw emotional responses like no other medium and offer opportunities to engage with the garden when we may not be able to get outside, such as in winter. Lighting also commands attention, particularly when used sparingly and with conviction. A single source can draw attention to a distant object or focal point and, by careful control of the way it is lit, foreshorten or extend our perception of distance. When lit, footpaths that lead to these objects are also invested with a status that may not be apparent in the day time. Features such as raised planting beds can be underlit to create the illusion that they are floating, while the intricate tracery of branches, rugged texture of brickwork and luscious curves of sculpture can all be accentuated when bathed in light.
“Introducing coloured lighting into a garden adds drama but it needs to be carefully considered. Features such as water, textured walls, and large leaved plants lend themselves to coloured lights, and if you opt for RGB LED colour-change fittings you can alter the hues depending on the mood and effects you require.”
Coloured lighting is another effective design tool, and can be used to spotlight particular aspects of the garden scene. Rather than creating the visual chaos of a seaside resort display, choose one or two complementary colours that work well together. Lighting units (LEDs) that alternate between colours can also be used to convey a variety of moods or ambience, with the sequencing programmed and controlled electronically.
While some types of lighting, such as gas lights or solar powered units, can be introduced retrospectively, most requires planning into the fabric of the design and commissioned as an integral part of the architecture. A particular vision may need bespoke solutions to create the special effects you have in mind, and a garden designer or specialist lighting company will be able to undertake the work to ensure it is safely and correctly installed. Ensure the specialist or electrician that installs your garden lighting is registered with one of the following governing bodies: NAPIT, ELECSA, ECA, or NICEIC. These ensure the contractor installs to BS7671 (the electrical regulations) and meets the necessary building regulations.
CONVENTIONAL LIGHTING SYSTEMS
Traditional mains-powered systems can produce light in a wide range of colours and intensities, and recent developments have made them safer and more efficient: bright halogen incandescent bulbs and the more efficient compact fluorescent lights use 75 per cent less power to produce the same effects as traditional incandescent light bulbs. Various types are available for different purposes, so evaluate which is best suited to your needs.
The effectiveness of low voltage lighting powered by solar energy is dependent on the availability of sunlight and the battery capacity, although modern devices are improving all the time. Fairly cheap to buy, with no complicated or professional installation required, solar lights are ideal for casual illumination, decorative effects and powering novelty items. However, they are not suitable for safety features, such as lights for illuminating steps.
LED lamps use Light Emitting Diodes instead of standard filaments or discharge lamps to provide the light source. They are considered to be the most environmentally sound lighting method, using only 10 per cent of the power needed by a standard incandescent bulb, with a lifetime of up to 50,000 hours and low surface temperature. Ideal for recessing into walls, decking, and driveways, they are useful for illuminating stairways and for producing underwater effects. Initial costs are higher than other forms of lighting, but LEDs are safe and very efficient. Bright white LEDs give a stark effect, while warm white and other colours produce softer, less intense illumination.
When carefully considered from the outset, creative lighting allows you to extend the time you spend in the garden and provides endless exciting visual experiences.
DESIGN BY MANDY BUCKLAND
Subtle and understated illumination of particular objects, such as sculpture or architectural plants, often elicits a far more powerful effect than when the whole garden is saturated in light.
DESIGN BY CLEVE WEST
The stone pillars of a pergola are transformed into a powerful stage set through use of strong uplighting and by bathing the distant focal point in a contrasting beam of light.
DESIGN BY ANDREW FISHER TOMLIN
Dramatic lighting in brilliant colours can make an arresting sight, transforming our daytime appreciation of the space and the features within it.
DESIGN BY JANINE PATTISON
LED lighting can be used to highlight sudden changes in level and other potential hazards, while also providing opportunities for creating a range of decorative and colourful effects.
DESIGN BY TINA VALLIS
Take time to research all the various lighting systems available to achieve the effect you want. Here a stand-alone neon tube emits an eerie glow, bathing the area in an intimate light.
DESIGN BY ANDY STURGEON
Small yet powerful LEDs and an illuminated strip draw the eye to a trio of slender pots in this city garden, creating a dominant focal point when night falls.
DESIGN BY CHARLOTTE ROWE
Lights set into a deck pinpoint the edge, allowing safe passage through the garden, while the pool creates a sea of colourful light in the centre of the space.
DESIGN BY JOHN NASH
A clean white beam directed onto a cascade, fountain or water blade makes a dynamic nighttime feature and throws spangles of light into the garden.
DESIGN BY ANDREW FISHER TOMLIN