The best garden lighting ideas: ways to light your outdoor space

The best garden lighting ideas: ways to light your outdoor space

Looking for some garden lighting ideas to brighten up your outdoor living space. Having a garden is a real luxury, a little sanctuary of nature. And the best part? It is (quite literally) right on your doorstep. Particularly when spring and summer roll around each year, we’re hit with a fresh wave of excitement.

Thinking about the longer days and evenings spent relaxing, dining, and socialising in outdoor living areas, and how to spruce up the space.  Outdoor lighting can really transform the overall ambience of your garden. It’s also highly practical, allowing you to make use of the outdoors late into the night…  You may opt for the subtle but classic candlelit look to prolong those alfresco mealtimes.

Or alternatively, you could choose both a light and heat source such as a firepit. This creates a focal point, illuminates the space, and keeps you warm (very important for UK evenings, let’s not kid ourselves). Whether it’s the front garden, back garden or a small garden you’re looking to light  up, there are many options. 

So how do you know what kind of garden lighting to go for?

In this blog, we’re going to explore different ways to light up your garden, accessorise and add some style. We’ll look at several different options, aesthetics and price ranges to help you find the best inspiration for your garden.


The best outdoor lighting ideas…

There are loads of different garden lighting ideas that you can incorporate into your outdoor space. Different lighting options will help you create a different style or ambience.


1. Outdoor Candles…

The first and maybe the most obvious choice is candle lighting! Candles have been used as a light source for over 5000 years.  So, yes, while they are quite literally ancient, they’re still effective and beautifully decorative lights. Candles work well in pretty much every situation. Whether it’s on a tabletop whilst dining, dotted along a pathway, or clustered in a patio corner, they’re always going to look warm and calming. Plus, they’re definitely on the more affordable end of the garden lighting scale. 


Höfats Gravity Candle

The Höfats Gravity Candle Lantern is a safe and modern design, ensuring that your candle flame is always controlled.  The candle is gimbal-mounted, meaning that gravity will always keep your candle upright. So, no more burning your fingers trying to light the wick.  When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you can turn the candle upside down and the flame will extinguish. This also protects the interior from leaves, dust, and water.

The Gravity Lantern Hanger is a little add-on which allows you to hang your candlelight in a more traditional way. It’s still possible to flip the candle upside down whilst hanging, to protect it further from the elements.

Lastly, the Gravity Candle Pole attachment allows you to put the candle anywhere in the garden. Really, anywhere. Even in plant pots! Once again, it’s easy to turn the candle around to extinguish it and protect it from the elements. Weighing 0.5kg, the pole can withstand strong winds, and the materials will not rust. In addition, when winter comes back around, you can continue using the Höfats Gravity Candle Lantern indoors.  

DIY Candle Lantern

DIY candle lanterns are charming and rustic, and cost next to nothing, making them a great budget garden lighting option.  All that’s required is an old jar or fire-safe container, some little stones, beads, or sand to act as a base and a candle. 

These can be placed anywhere, and add an extra level of cosiness and warm light to your garden space. 



2. Outdoor Hanging Lights…

Hanging lights are essential for a cosy bohemian feel in your garden. Of course, they look great, but they’re equally a really effective source of light.  Many hanging lights are mains-powered, which is something to bear in mind and double-check before buying. If you have easy access to an electricity source to use for hanging lights, then this is no problem. If not then there are other options, such as solar-powered lighting, which we’ll look more at later on…  

Festoon lighting

First of the hanging lights to consider is festoon lighting.  Festoon lights take the shape of a traditional lightbulb, with a big glass bulb and warm white colour (or sometimes multicoloured).  Most often, they appear in rows on a cable. The appearance is classic, just like that of candles, and they give off the same rustic yet stylish look.  Festoon lights, string lights, and fairy lights are all very similar and sometimes used interchangeably. They’re an inexpensive solution to garden lighting and are a popular choice for good reason.



Now, for arguably the most delicate and pretty of them all… hanging tealights.  Tealights are candles, yes. But they are widely available in artificial form too.  The artificial option can be more effective for outdoor use, particularly if the open flame would be amongst long plants.  This example of hanging tealights on a tree branch is really a unique and tasteful way to add some additional lighting. (Albeit a very little amount of light)  


3. Outdoor lighting lanterns…

Like candles, lanterns also have a very long history. Therefore, there are many different traditional styles and forms. 

The appearance of lanterns is hugely appealing, and their practicality only adds to this charm.

So, let’s take a look at two contrasting kinds of lanterns… 


Moroccan-inspired lanterns

While authentic antique Moroccan lanterns look quite a bit different, these ‘Moroccan-inspired’ lanterns are widely available to purchase for your garden. 

The beautiful range of colours and cut-out patterns give a really intricate effect. These lanterns can be hung up or placed on a surface or on the ground.  The light effect given is full of warmth, and often the shadows of the lantern’s body pattern are really striking. 

Depending on the material of the exterior, the light source could be a candle or LED.


Modern lanterns

Very different in appearance, but just as sophisticated, are modern-style lanterns.  With a contemporary and elegant design, these Luxor Solar Lanterns can be used both indoors and outdoors.

The lantern light has an automatic switch-on function and three brightness levels. Plus, the weatherproof lights work in temperatures as low as -20°C (so we’re safe on that front). The light is solar powered which is a huge plus for garden spaces and a win for renewable energy. Still, if you feel it needs a little top-up, it can be easily charged with a USB-C connection port. 

The Luxor Solar Lantern comes in white as well as charcoal, and both large and small sizes.  These modern lanterns are practical, energy-efficient, and offer a sleek solution to garden lighting. 



4. Outdoor lighting for pergola…

Pergolas are (usually) rectangular, outdoor structures made of columns and posts. As well to looking beautiful, they have many functional benefits, including:

  • Creating a walkway or passageway
  • Providing a sheltered outdoor seating area
  • Covering an outdoor hot tub
  • Expanding an existing outdoor space 

    Incorporating outdoor pergola lights is a really great garden lighting idea. It ensures you can enjoy the space for longer whilst creating a more ambient, intimate setting. 

  • Related content: What is a pergola and should you buy one: a complete guide

    Pergolas with fairy lights

    Pergolas and fairy lights are a very popular pairing, and it’s clear to see why. The following pergolas are wooden structures, lit up for the evening with simple fairy lights, some additional candles and firelight.  The result is a subtle glow of light illuminating the space. 


    LED-incorporated pergolas

    This PergoSTET Pergola with three drop sides and LED lighting has a built-in solution to the nighttime darkness.  This modernised version of the traditional pergola contains remote-controlled LED mood lighting strips around the perimeter of the gutter system.

    The colours can easily be changed with the use of the remote control. Plus, the lights are dimmable to your desired brightness in order to set the mood exactly how you would like. 

    The roof can be changed at a moment’s notice to become fully waterproof, and the retractable blinds are inset in order to better cope with breezes. This way, you can continue to enjoy the outdoor space no matter what the weather or time of day.  You can click through here to read more about modern pergola ideas and how to create your dream garden.



    5. Fire pits

    Now, it’s a well-known fact that nights are (in most cases)colder than days. So why not kill two birds with one stone and consider both a light and heat source?

    Fire pits are another popular garden or patio addition for their aesthetic and functionality. 

    They’re also just great for times spent socialising. Picture the scene: sitting around the open fire with friends, talking away late into the night. Or even, living out your cliché campfire toasting marshmallows' dreams. Candles, as we know, are a source of light. Fire pits are arguably just an (extremely) intensified version of a candle flame, with some additional benefits too.  Fire pits such as the Cosipure 120 Rectangular Black and Teak Fire Pit Table (as pictured) will add a contemporary touch to any outdoor space.



    6. Nature-inspired lighting

    Now back to some much more subtle and dainty ideas, the following are all nature-inspired garden lights. 


    LED Dandelion clock lights

    LED dandelion clock lights are another garden lighting possibility which looks really harmonious amongst other plants and greenery. The lights are solar-powered LEDs meaning there is no stress of sorting out wiring and electrics.  This is a really beautiful outdoor light source, suited to pathways and flowerbeds, but really can be positioned anywhere.  

    Flower-shaped lights

    There are so many possibilities with LED lights, and many creative shapes and configurations for outdoor lighting. Flower-shaped lights are decorative, blend in with existing garden plants and give off a warm glow.   

    Floor lights

    Now floor lights are not technically nature-inspired themselves. But due to their small size, they can be easily placed among the long grass, tree beds or flower beds.  The result: a very unobtrusive and natural-looking source of outdoor lighting.  



    Outdoor lighting FAQs…

    So, now that you have some ideas for your outdoor lights for garden, we’ll look at some of the most commonly asked questions.  


    How to install outdoor lighting…

    The installation of every outdoor light will be slightly different, and you’ll have to refer to the instructions to ensure you are doing it safely.  However, firstly, you will need power in the area the light is. If you do not already have this then you’ll need to run power from the mains and either wire the lights directly or install an outdoor switch (to protect them from the elements). If you aren’t confident installing the outdoor lighting then you might need to employ an electrician to help you do it safely.   


    How many lumens do I need for outdoor lighting?

    Lumens measure the light or brightness of lighting. It used to be that the strength of light was expressed in wattage But the invention of LED lights means that lights can produce more light with less energy.  How many lumens your lighting needs to be will depend on what you're using the lights for. But they will generally be between 50 and 700 lumens. In general, you can use these guidelines:

  • Wall lights approx. 50-185 lumens
  • Paths lights approx. 100 lumens
  • Pond lights approx. 200-400 lumens
  • Motion sensor lights approx. 300-700 lumens
  • General landscaping lights approx. 50-300 lumens
  • Floodlights approx. 700 lumens+

  • What is the best IP rating for outdoor lighting?

    IP stands for Ingress Protection and it is something all outdoor lighting will be fitted and rated on. This scale ranks the light on how well it is protected from exterior elements such as rain. This rating will determine where you can install your lights, and how much moisture they can come into contact with.  An IP rating has two digits, one that indicates the level of protection from solid objects, and the other indicating how water-resistant the light is. The higher the digits, the more protection the light has, and both are important when it comes to outdoor lighting. Outdoor lights will come into contact with a lot more elements than indoor lights will. And for that reason, they often need a higher IP rating. Here is some guidance for the IP rating you need:

    • Standard garden lights (path, uplights and tree lights) minimum rating of IP44
    • Deck and patio lights minimum rating of IP65
    • Water lights minimum rating of IP68

    If you have any doubts about the rating then you should double-check before installing them outdoors. 


    How to hide outdoor lighting wires?

    If you’ve spent lots of time and effort creating a beautiful outdoor garden space, then you want to make sure that your lighting wires are sticking out like a sore thumb. There are a few ways that you can help hide the lighting or make it a little more subtle.  If you are hiring an electrician to run the wires then these can be buried or conceal the wire in copper piping. If this is not possible then you can use:

    • Lights with wires that blend in
    • Plants to hide the wires
    • Place the lights in planters

    It’s not the end of the world if you can see the wires, but it creates a cleaner more seamless looking finish if you can blend the wires into their surroundings. 


    Interested in Harbour Lifestyle garden products?

    So, we’ve gone over a real mix of options and price points, and it’s clear that there are many great garden light ideas out there.  The perfect choice for you and your garden ultimately depends on a lot of factors and, of course, personal preference.  You can visit our lighting page to revisit all of our own garden lighting products.