Outdoor lighting will maximize the pleasure you get from your small garden. It will enable you to eat, read, or simply linger outside on warm spring and fall evenings. If you can see your garden from inside, great lighting will let you enjoy a night-time view of it all year, giving the room you are in (inside or outside) an extra dimension of space.
Outside lighting is essential in places where darkness falls early and the heat of the day makes escaping into the cool evening air a necessity. Even where summer evenings are long, some light, subtle artificial lighting will enhance the atmosphere of a meal outside or a party on a terrace and enable you to use your outside space to the fullest when dusk turns to darkness.
Creative and Functional Lighting
Many people think of lighting a Christmas tree in the garden, but why stop there? Use lighting all through the year to create a gentle glow around a fine specimen tree, to illuminate a group of pots, or to spotlight a piece of statuary, even in winter and under snow.
Make the most of whatever features you have, especially if they are in a space you cannot actually use. If you live in the country, lighting will give you a hint of the wildness beyond your own small patch.
Other kinds of landscape lighting have primarily a functional rather than a decorative purpose— such as that between the garage and the front door or alongside a flight of steps, or brilliant security lighting.
Creating the Lighting Effect You Want
Decide on exactly what you want lit and the kind of effect you are after. Be practical. As appealing as subtle half-lighting might be, if you are cooking on the grill or pouring a drink, you will end up with a mess. For this sort of activity and for lighting paths and steps, you need a direct source of light.
Position the light fixture near the area you want lit, but low enough to avoid creating an eerie effect; bulkhead fittings set into walls do the trick perfectly. For eating outside or reading, you can use a simple outdoor table lamp. Install outlets with ground fault interrupters in different places so that you can move the light around. For special occasions, there is nothing more pleasing than the gentle flicker of candlelight; this, combined with indoor lighting, may be all you need to illuminate a small space near the home.
Light Fixtures and Installation
Choose light fixtures that are practical and suit the style of your outside room; if in doubt, choose a simple, strong, and unobtrusive design. It is vital that you use light fixtures specially designed for outside use and that they are professionally wired and installed. All light fixtures, wires and outlets must be waterproof and protected where they might be damaged by a rake or shovel during yard work.