Modern Landscape Lighting a Complete Guide

Landscape lighting can completely transform your outdoor living area for the better. Transforming gardens with lighting comes down to choosing the right outdoor lighting solutions for your specific property and implementing them properly.

Below, you’ll find a full guide on outdoor landscape lighting and how to get it right.


How To Plan Your Landscape Lighting Scheme

Quality landscape lighting begins with a quality plan. In order to ensure everything ends up looking the way you imagined it would, you’ll first need to come up with a garden lighting design plan.

The first thing you should do is to make a sketch of the area you want to light. Sketch out your garden as accurately to scale as you can manage. Be sure you indicate crucial areas such as the patio, seating areas, terraces, ponds or any other features you want to light up.

With everything there in front of you, you can think about which of the areas are going to require the most lighting. In some areas, you may want softer, atmospheric lighting, but in others, you may instead prefer bright and crisp illumination.

Figure out which type of lighting you’re going to need to get the job done. Outdoor lighting such as garden lighting comes in a variety of fixture types for you to mix and match. Once you know how you want to create your lighting, you can jot down on your sketch where you want to install these fixtures.

Garden at night with LED bollards in borders

What Types of Lighting Can You Use For Landscape Lighting?

Once you have some outdoor lighting ideas fleshed out, it’s time to seriously consider the light fixtures you want to use. Landscape light fixtures are as varied as any other light for other locations, giving you plenty of room to customize and get creative.


  • WALL LIGHTS – Installing wall lights onto garden walls and the sides of your building is a great way to generate ambient light in the area. If you choose wall washing or grazing lights, you can also use them to accent the textures of the wall itself.


  • GROUND LIGHTS – Ground lights are good for lighting pathways and sectioning out different areas, such as the patio. They come in different forms, such as recessed, post lights or spotlights.


  • SPOTLIGHTS – Spike Lights are good for shining a narrow beam of light on a specific area. This makes them ideal for highlighting specific landscape features such as trees or architectural elements.


  • PATH LIGHTING – Using bollard lights, spike lights or other ground lights, you can illuminate driveways, walkways and other paths in the garden to enhance safety and navigation.


  • STEP LIGHTS – Step lights are another safety feature you can add to your outdoor lighting. Highlighting the steps makes them easier to see and can be done with ground or wall lights.


What is The Difference Between 12 Volt And 240 Volt Landscape Light Fittings?

When it comes to landscape LED lighting, you may feel confused about which voltage is appropriate for your space. Demystifying 12 and 240 volt lighting can help you better understand and make the best decision for you.


12-Volt Lighting

12-volt lighting is a low voltage landscape lighting solution that offers low power consumption, which makes them safer for outdoor use. There is less of a risk of electrical shock with these, which is beneficial outdoors where they are exposed to the elements. They tend to be more resilient against the effects of the weather as well.

This type of lighting is well suited for various LED landscape lighting applications. This includes accentuating different features, lighting a garden or setting path lighting.

It’s important to know that there are some drawbacks to 12-volt lighting, however. You’ll need a transformer to convert the standard 240 volts of household lighting to the 12 volts needed to light the outdoor space. With longer cables needed to do this, you might notice voltage drops on occasion.


240-Volt Lighting

240 volts are used in traditional household lighting, so you won’t need to make any changes such as with a transformer to use these lights outdoors. Not only is the installation easier, but so is controlling the brightness. They are easier to control and dim than their 12-volt counterparts.

While 240-volt lights are as varied as 12-volt lights, they come with disadvantages, just like 12-volt lights. For one, the higher voltage leaves a greater risk of electric shock as opposed to the lower voltage lighting.

240-volt lighting also tends to have a shorter life than 12-volt fixtures. This is due to the higher voltage and their potential generation of heat.

Deciding which one is best for your space comes down to how concerned you are about safety, how much you care about ease of installation and the way you intend to use these outside lights.

Garden border LED lighting

Why LED Lights Are the Best Choice for Outdoors

LED lights make illuminating outdoor spaces as efficient as possible. LED bulbs have many benefits that make them the preferred choice for outdoor lighting applications, including:


  • BRIGHTER ILLUMINATION – LED exterior lighting will provide you with brighter, whiter illumination than traditional halogen lights. This is especially important if safety and security lighting is one of your main concerns.


  • LONG LIFESPAN – With a lifespan that can outlast tens of thousands of hours, LED bulbs are a reliable and long-lasting solution. Lights will burn out less frequently, so you won’t have to maintain them as often.


  • ENERGY EFFICIENT – LED bulbs provide you with energy efficient outdoor lights, which is particularly important if you intend to leave them on all night. They use less energy, which not only makes them the most eco friendly lighting option, but they will also be easier on your wallet.


  • COST-SAVING – With a lessened draw on your electricity, you will notice a reduction in your energy bills over time. Similarly, since they last a long time, you won’t have to spend money on replacements as often.


  • VERSATILITY – Stay in total control of the execution of your landscape lighting ideas with the versatility of LED lights. You can choose from a wide spectrum of colour temperatures and lumen counts to perfect the appearance of your outdoor space.


What Are IP Ratings And Why Must You Use The Correct IP Rating For Outdoor Lighting?

When planning your landscape lighting design, it’s important to consider the IP ratings of the lights you choose. IP ratings, or Ingress Protection ratings, are a way to tell how resistant your lights are to moisture and solid objects. This is crucial to know since your lights will be exposed to the elements.

There are two numbers in an IP rating. The first indicates the protection against solids, while the second indicates the resistance to moisture.


First Digit – Solids 


0  –  No protection against solids

1  –  Gives protection against solid objects greater in size than 50mm

2  –  Gives protection against solid objects up to 12mm in size

3  –  Gives protection against solid objects up to 2.5mm

4  –  Gives protection against solid objects up to 1mm

5  –  Gives protection against some dust entry

6  –  Completely dust tight


Second Digit – Moisture 


0  –  No protection from moisture

1  –  Gives protection against condensation

2  –  Gives protection against water droplets that fall vertically up to 15 degrees

3  –  Gives protection against vertical water spray up to 60 degrees

4  –  Gives protection against water spray from all directions

5  –  Gives protection against low pressure water jets

6  –  Gives protection against strong water jets

7  –  Gives protection against brief immersion

8  –  Gives protection against prolonged immersion

Lighting IP ratings Chart

What is CCT And What LED Colour Options do You Have For Garden Landscape Lighting?

CCT, or colour correlated temperature, is a way to discuss a light’s warmth or coolness. Also simply known as colour temperature, CCT exists on a scale measured in Kelvin between 1,000 and 10,000. The lower the number, the warmer the light temperature.

When implementing your garden lighting ideas, you’ll need to consider CCT. Warm and cool lights both have a place and time, so you’ll need to figure out which is best for your garden.

Cool lights, which are anything above 4,000k, tend to be favored for safety lighting due to their bright, crisp, white lighting. Some also prefer it for pathway lighting and driveway lighting for similar reasons. Illuminating trees and shrubs with cool lighting is another popular application.

On the other hand, warm lights are primarily used around entertainment and seating areas since they are easier on the eyes. They are also good for accent lighting, especially where wall lights are concerned. The best colour temperature for this type of warm lighting tends to be between 3,000k and 3,300k.

LED colour temperature guide

Important Do’s and Don’ts When Creating Your Landscape Lighting 

Here are a few guidelines to ensure you get your landscape lighting right the first time.



  • DO use LED lights. Their versatility and long lifespan among other benefits make them the clear choice for outdoor lighting.


  • DO layer the lights. Ensure you have an even spread of illumination by layering wall lights, pathway lights and ground lights.


  • DO choose lights that complement the rest of the outdoor space. Choose fixtures that work well in the style of your garden for seamless integration.


  • DO plan ahead of time. It’s important that you take the time to plan out the lighting scheme before you commit.


  • DO play with shadows. Choose various intensities and brightness to create purposeful shadows, bringing visual drama to your landscaping.


  • DO highlight key elements. Figure out the focal points you want to create in your garden area and use accent lights to draw attention to them.



  • DON’T over light the area. Not only can this cause unsightly light pollution, it will be unpleasant to the eyes.


  • DON’T shine lights right on the house. Try to filter lights through landscaping and position their directions in such a way that they’ll create shadows and not glare.


  • DON’T forget IP ratings. Pay special attention to the IP ratings to ensure that the lights you want to use are up for the task of enduring the weather.


  • DON’T overlook dark areas. Be sure that every area of your outdoor living space has the appropriate lighting levels. If you want to create moody lighting, you can do so without leaving areas completely in the dark by choosing low lumen lighting.


  • DON’T put off maintenance. In order to ensure your lights are running at their best, regularly inspect them and clear off any accumulated debris.


Tips on How To Maintain Outdoor Landscape Lighting

When you do your regular maintenance, there are a few things you can do to ensure they are in their best possible shape.


  • TRIM ANY BRANCHES AND PLANTS NEAR THE LIGHTS – This will prevent the light from being blocked and will help prevent unnecessary damage to the lights.


  • SWEEP OFF DEBRIS – Remove any dirt, mud, leaves or other natural debris from the lights with a soft brush.


  • CHECK THE WIRING – Be sure there is no exposed or otherwise damaged lighting in your design scheme. If you notice any, call a qualified electrician to come and take care of this safety hazard.


  • REPLACE BULBS – If the bulbs are burnt out, take the time to buy new ones and replace them as soon as possible.


  • CLEAN THE LIGHTS – Using mild, soapy water, wipe down the glass lenses as well as any metal or plastic elements on the lights.


Different Lighting Techniques To Use When Lighting a Garden

Garden illumination techniques are as varied as the fixtures themselves. There are many ways you can light up your outdoor space in a way that is sure to impress.



Wall grazing lights are an effective way of showing off the texture of a wall. This is accomplished by placing a fixture with a wide beam right beside the wall or even on the wall itself. The light beam will shine upwards and create shadows that show off the texture of the wall.



Uplighting is when you position a light at a low level and shine it upwards. Doing so under trees and other such features will create a dramatic look. Uplighting is particularly useful when used as accent lighting.



Downlighting requires the placement of lights higher up that then shine downwards. Most commonly, you will use them to wash walls with light. You can also choose up and downlighters that wash the walls in illumination in both directions.



Creating a silhouette can be accomplished by using a wide-beam light placed between a wall and whatever feature you want to light. This could include a plant, a sculpture or any other such feature. Lighting the wall instead of the focal point itself, you can instead generate a silhouette of it against the wall.



By lighting up a feature entirely, you can create a shadow in its shape on the ground or a nearby wall. This is an excellent technique for those who want to incorporate visual drama into their outdoor space.



Create the effect of moonlight shining down by placing lights high up. If you point them at trees, you can give the illusion of moonlight shining through the leaves from overhead.


Why Landscape Lighting Should Be Part of Your Home Security 

Landscape lighting is an easy way for you to not only beautify your home but to make it safer as well. There are many ways landscape lighting can enhance your home security when installed with this in mind.

Firstly, a well-lit outdoor space can deter intruders from stepping onto the property at all. Without shadows for them to sneak around in, they are less likely to try and breach your property because ample light will increase their risk of being spotted.

Similarly, if you have bright lights outdoors, your security cameras can more easily pick up on movement and give better visibility on what exactly you’re seeing out there. If there is an intruder on the property, you can show the tapes to authorities and get a clearer look at their face.

Adding motion sensor lighting will also alert you if anyone walks onto the property unexpectedly. Motion sensors will detect movement and turn on automatically, drawing your attention to the direction it came from.

You can also simply make it safer for you to traverse your outdoor space with quality landscape lighting. A well-lit garden allows you to navigate it more easily and reduces the risk of trips and falls.


Different Ways to Control Outdoor Lighting

There are a number of ways you can control your outdoor lighting according to your preferences. Perhaps the most common are manual switches. These switches can be placed indoors or outdoors and can be toggled when you want to turn a light on or off.

Timers are a more convenient, hands-free way to control illumination. Setting timers on lights will cause them to turn on and off at certain times of day or night according to what you have indicated. These are not only convenient, but they are also more energy efficient as well.

Similarly, motion sensor lighting will turn on only when movement is detected. Once it is still, the lights will shut back off again. These are great for security lighting and will always ensure there is illumination anytime someone is outside.

Photocell lights function similarly to motion sensors. The difference is that the lights turn on and off according to the light levels in an area. These are particularly useful for having lights that automatically turn on and off at dusk and dawn respectively.

Remotely controlling the lights using a physical controller or a smartphone app gives you instant control over the lights from a distance. You can turn them on or off in an instant, just by pressing a button from inside your home. You could also incorporate your lights into your smart home system and control them through your phone using voice commands or schedules.



Ideas for Outdoor Lighting


  1. LWA454 6 Watt Wall Wash LED Outdoor Wall Light

LWA454 6 watt LED wall wash outdoor wall light

Use wall lights to your advantage to create an elegant outdoor space with the LWA454 6 Watt Wall Wash LED Outdoor Wall Light. This wall light features a sleek, rounded rectangular shape available in dark gray or white, making it perfectly modern. It is characterized by its wall washing ability to shine 3000k warm white light down onto the wall beneath it, adding an artistic touch. The light outputs a total of 600 lumens of light.


  1. LFL062 12 Watt 600mm Tall Twin Black Spotlight LED Bollard Light

LFL062-1 12 watt twin head spotlight design outdoor bollard light

Using the LFL062 12 Watt 600mm Tall Twin Black Spotlight LED Bollard Light, you can shine more light over a specific area at once. The light has two heads that you can tilt in different directions, either to extend the light on a path or accent a feature in the garden. The black hue makes it compatible with any garden décor, and it outputs a total of 1000 lumens of 3000k warm white light.


  1. LFL026 10 Watt 700mm Tall Black LED Bollard Light

LFL026 10 watt 700mm tall black bollard lights

Perfect for lighting driveways and pathways, the LFL026 10 Watt 700mm Tall Black LED Bollard Light is a sleek, modern bollard light that burns brightly. It outputs 900 lumens of 3000k warm white light that is gentle on the eyes. Light shines downward onto the ground from the top of the 700-millimetre post, creating a pleasant nighttime glow.


  1. LFL016 1 Watt LED 1000mm Tall Black Garden Spike Light

LFL016 1 watt black 1000mm ground spike lights

For driveway and pathway lights that are as decorative as they are effective, the LFL016 1 Watt LED 1000mm Tall Black Garden Spike Light is a good choice. This spike light features an oblong-shaped head with a diffuser that softens the already gentle 3000k warm white light. It can be placed as a single light or with multiples to light the perimeter of a seating area, driveway or pathway to add both light and decoration.


  1. ODL047 1 Watt Round Brass Finish LED Ground Or Decking Light

ODL047 1 watt brass LED recessed ground lights

For lovers of modern minimalism, the ODL047 1 Watt Round Brass Finish LED Ground Or Decking Light is perfect. This light is designed to be recessed into the ground to hide most of itself. It shines 70 lumens of 3000k warm white light upward, making it great for driveways or as uplighters all the same. The 30-degree beam angle can highlight certain areas of the garden. Its size of 38 millimetres in diameter means you can install more than one in a row up to as many as will fit.


  1. ODL029 9 Watt 316 Stainless Steel Recessed LED Ground Light

ODL029 9 Watt stainless steel recessed ground lights

The ODL029 9 Watt 316 Stainless Steel Recessed LED Ground Light is another recessed ground light well suited for the task of driveway or pathway illumination. It is fashioned out of 316 stainless steel that won’t rust or corrode in the elements. At 120 millimetres in diameter, it is larger than many other recessed lights and stands out a bit more. This light outputs 800 lumens of 3000k warm white light.

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