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Southern Inspirations Garden Design

A family-run business since 1997

Southern Inspirations
Magical Garden Lighting
Garden lighting is not just reserved for seasonal vacations! Lighting a garden at night will add a complete new dimension to any garden landscaping. You should emphasise the most beautiful features of your garden.

At night gardens have a stronger fragrance than during the day. When you add light, the garden can be enjoyed like it never has been before. Here are garden lighting design techniques you can use to transform ordinary gardens into show pieces. Apply them freely to your garden design.

Lighting techniques

Colored Garden light

Color lights can truly bring the artist out in you. Your night garden will look dramatically different from your day time garden. It is like a woman putting make-up on to bring out her true inner beauty! Unsightly features are hidden away in the dark. Focal points can be emphasised. Dull colors are eradicated, or even changed.

  • White light will light up your garden in its natural colors. The whites will also appear whiter.
  • Yellow lights are used to freshen up your greens and warm up the overall tone of the garden.
  • Red lights are used to make greens appear darker, but will also accentuate warm colours.
  • Blue light will bring that cooler effect.
  • Green light will be used to emphasise the green foliage more.

Lighting an object up with the same colour light will make the item appear whiter, and thus accentuate it. The effects that can be created are almost endless.

Lighting from bottom up

This is the method most widely used in garden lighting design. Plants will be lit up more at the bottom than the top. This will allow the fading of the light higher up to avoid a large contrast with the black sky beyond.

We don’t want to create sharp contrasts at night. This detracts from the peaceful soothing effect that you are looking for. At night you want to wind down and relax from your days work and still enjoy your garden. So don’t create anything too dramatic.

Garden Lighting Frontal lighting

Frontal lighting on structural plants and focal points will create a superb effect. Direct frontal light should only be used on your main focal feature. This draws the eye to the most prevalent feature in your garden. The use of more diffused light on the surrounding plants will frame the focal point. If you leave out diffused light around the focal point, your contrast will be too great. You will disrupt the flow and unity will be lost.


Using backlighting creates a silhouette effect on a structural plant. This will effectively mimic the setting sun. The magnificence of large foliage increases dramatically. Just a word of caution; make sure that the light does not shine directly into the eyes of your guests!

Lighting from top

The use of flood lights from the top will light up large areas. This will light up the area utilised for entertainment. When the whole garden is lit up this way, you can effectively have the exact same garden as during the day. This is uncreative, but functional. Be very selective in which areas you flood with light.

Landscape lighting design aspects

Here are a few important design aspects. Useing them can make your garden lighting design effective. Our garden design page can be used to provide detailed information of garden design techniques.


Contrast in the garden will be magnified by only lighting up part of your garden. This also creates magic.

Lighting up of pathways

Light your pathways up! Provide your visitors with sufficient light to safely walk through the garden. Take particular care with steps or changes in levels. Use diffused lights that are well placed and well hidden very low on the ground. If you can also place lights higher up on suitable posts if you prefer. This can clearly demarcate the pathway.

Seasonal change

You can also design flexibility into your garden lighting. You could take advantage of the seasonal changes in your garden. By making small changes in the position and direction of each light you will create a different garden! For example, a light that is used to light up an evergreen shrub during winter, can be redirected on to a tree full of blossoms in spring! Be creative, experiment and enjoy your garden to the full.

Lighting up water features

The use the water can create special effects. Ripples on a pond will cause reflecting light to make the trees and shrubs dance. The use of a back light through a waterfall will create a beautiful sight. Submersing lights in a garden pond will create a luminous effect.

Lights used in Garden lighting

Aiming a spotlight on a focal point will emphasise it. Narrow beam spot lights can be very directional, and will focus light a smaller area of the garden, but to a greater intensity. The use of a wide beam spotlights will light up a larger area. Their light is however more diffused.

By using low voltage spotlights you will provide the greatest flexibility. They are generally also safe to use.

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