The Winter Guide to Outdoor Lighting
Winter’s just around the corner and the days are already getting shorter and shorter. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to enjoy your outdoor areas. Ensure your outdoor areas are lit effectively so you can make the most of them all year round.
Why use outdoor lighting?
There are two main functions when it comes to outdoor lighting.
- Emphasising your home’s style – outdoor fixtures can really help highlight and illuminate your home, especially when the spotlight is on key architectural features.
- Improving home security – no one wants to rock up to a dark home when walking up the path, but robbers do. Outdoor lighting can be connected to smart home automation systems including alarms, and can be set to go on as garage doors open, as people walk up the garden path or as people walk down the side. Not only does this ensure you know when people are around, but it also deters intruders from even trying.
In the backyard, outdoor lighting means you can comfortably sit and enjoy some time in the cool, fresh air, extending the usability of the space, regardless of the weather.
What to use
There are a multitude of options to light up your outdoor space. The need for outdoor lights, and a variety of them, is crucial as it moves into winter to accommodate how early it is getting dark.
If you have the option of downlights or wall-mounted sconces consider putting some of these in to ensure you can actually see while outside. However, it’s also worth putting in some decorative, atmospheric subtle lighting to create mood and character. For example, some hanging lanterns, wall lights against your vertical garden or fairy lights work beautifully to enhance the charm of your garden. Importantly, outdoor feature lights need to reflect what is going on indoors and in sync with the architectural style of your home. If this isn’t possible, they need to be invisible.
When deciding what kind of light to use, it’s crucial to first look at how each individual space is going to be used.
An outdoor entertaining space needs to have ample lighting to first ensure a pleasant dining experience, and also to be able to adequately see other people when conversing.
Any pathways around the garden should also be well illuminated. This prevents people from tripping when the ground surface suddenly changes. Many people will use spike lights, which are spotlights on small spikes that are pushed into the ground, for this purpose. However, you can also use bollards that seamlessly blend into the design of the pathway.
Also, your entryway should be well lit. This is for safety and also so people can see what they are doing. But this doesn’t mean you have to make it boring. In fact, entryways can be a beautiful feature of your home if lit up correctly at night. Pop some sconces on either side of your gate, or alternatively, use some in-ground fittings which give a nice flush and glow to the walls.
Think of the budget
When deciding what lighting to use, budget should always be considered. There’s no point designing a beautifully landscaped garden with spectacular lights and accent lights if it’s going to blow your finances through the roof.
Lighting installation doesn’t need to drain your bank account. Shop around, ask the experts for their opinion, and try to purchase things on sale. And remember to factor in any labour costs. While there will be some things you can do yourself, for example hanging lanterns and fairy lights, there will be lots of other lights that need to be installed professionally, especially those that need cables.
Care for your lights
At the end of the day, a charming light fitting is only as good as the care that is given towards maintaining it. Before winter officially hits, it’s wise to get outdoors and make sure your lights and light fittings are working properly and clean.
Clean fixtures generally means brighter lights so it’s important to get to work before they get too dull and dirty. Look for things like insects that have made fixtures their homes and ensure you use products to get the grime off the external glass.
It’s also a good idea to change any bulbs that need changing. It’s definitely not ideal to be outside in the cold fiddling with globes because you’ve suddenly realised that they’ve blown. It’s a good idea to invest in some energy efficient bulbs as well. Not only are they better for the planet, they also last a lot longer.
And finally, take a moment to adjust any timers that may be running – inside the house and out. With winter, darkness comes earlier, and your home should be illuminated in accordance with the sunset times.