There’s sort of unspoken rule about garden lighting – there’s something mysterious and difficult about it. People who aren’t afraid to try transplanting a rose bush, say, might think twice when it comes to installing garden lights.
On the one hand, it’s easy to understand. After all, we’re talking about electricity here. There’s a reason people need to get a license before they start playing around with it! But when it comes to do-it-yourself garden lights, you can take a deep breath. Exterior grade light fixtures tend to function on only twelve watts of voltage – that’ll give you a little buzz but hardly more than that.
In fact, perking up your garden with some soft illumination is a great way to understand the basics of working with electricity!
DIY Installing Garden Lights
Installing garden lights is a great way to enhance the beauty and safety of your outdoor space. Whether you want to highlight a particular feature, add ambiance to your garden, or simply provide illumination for nighttime gatherings, garden lights can be a great investment. Here are some DIY tips for installing garden lights.
Plan your lighting design
Before you start installing your garden lights, it’s important to have a plan in place. Think about the areas you want to illuminate and the type of lighting that would work best for each space. Consider factors such as the height of the lights, the angle of the beam, and the color temperature of the bulbs. Draw a rough sketch of your garden and mark the areas where you want to install lights.
Choose the right type of lighting
There are many types of garden lights available, including solar-powered lights, low-voltage lights, and LED lights. Each type of light has its own advantages and disadvantages. Solar-powered lights are easy to install and cost-effective, but may not provide as much light as other options. Low-voltage lights are more powerful and can be linked together to create a larger lighting system, but require a transformer. LED lights are energy-efficient and long-lasting but can be more expensive.
Prepare the installation site
Once you’ve chosen your lighting, it’s time to prepare the installation site. Clear away any debris or vegetation from the area where you want to install the light. If you’re installing a stake light, use a garden trowel to create a small hole for the stake. For other types of lights, you may need to dig a shallow trench for the wiring.
Install the lights
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the lights. If you’re installing low-voltage lights, you’ll need to connect the lights to a transformer and bury the wiring in a shallow trench. If you’re installing solar lights, simply place the lights in the desired location and secure the stakes in the ground. For other types of lights, you may need to use screws or brackets to attach the lights to walls, posts, or other structures.
Test the lights
Once the lights are installed, test them to make sure they’re working properly. Turn on the power or wait until it gets dark to see how the lights look. Adjust the position of the lights if necessary to get the desired effect.
Maintain the lights
To keep your garden lights looking their best, it’s important to maintain them regularly. Clean the lights periodically to remove dirt and debris, and replace any bulbs that burn out. Check the wiring periodically to make sure it’s secure and not damaged.
Tips on Installing Garden Lights
First, get yourself organized – have everything you need on hand. Also, be sure you’ve decided where the lights are going – along a walk, at the base of a tree, in the midst of some ferns.
- Next, turn over the earth, run the cable (generally about twelve gauges), and bury it. You don’t want people tripping over the cords!
- Then, hook up the transformer to the power source. You can attach the transformer to the house if you’d like – close to the exterior power outlet – or give it its own bases, such as a small stake or wooden panel. The transformer runs power to the garden light fixtures when it’s plugged into the outside outlet.
- Go back to your light fixtures and be sure you’ve got them where you want them. Remember, you don’t want to set lights up where people might bump into them or step on them. This is a question of safety as well as aesthetics – a broken light isn’t going to make your garden shine!
Always be sure that you keep a good distance – at least ten feet and preferably fifteen – between your outside light and any source of water such as a garden fountain, a decorative pond, or a pool.
Pinch the connector halves around the cable that’s rooted in the garden. You should hear a click and – just as important – you should see some light!
Most outdoor lighting packages will come with INSTRUCTIONS – be sure to read them carefully when you’re installing the lights. Safety is the key element. It’s not a complicated job – thinking a bit in advance will go a long way to ensuring that your garden lighting is lovely!
Less is More
If there’s one thing that’s true about garden lighting, it’s this. Once you’re hooked it can be hard to know when to stop. There’s always another plant that needs a little garden illumination, or a walkway that could use a little ground lighting. It doesn’t stop there, either. Maybe you decide to go with some eco-friendly garden lighting or gazing balls. Maybe you think, You know what? I want to string some Japanese lanterns back and forth between the trees. You’ve got a lovely pop-up shelter and the light would make it perfect.
Next thing you know your lovely garden looks less like a piece of Heaven glowing on Earth and more like . . . well, let’s just say that it looks a little less classy than it used to. So when you’re feeling like it’s time to add yet another decorative piece to your garden, you might want to rein that feeling in. Because the truth about garden lighting is pretty simple and can be summed up this way: Less is more.
That’s right. Less is more. And given all the temptations that can be a hard rule to follow. One visit to your local garden supply store and you’ll likely see so many lights you want to buy that you can shake a stick at.
Before you set up your first exterior light fixture, take a good look at the space that’s going to be affected. Consider the natural play of light and shadow.
When does your garden look best – in the morning sun? The direct light of noon? What about at twilight? For that matter, how does the moon reflect on your gardening efforts?
The best plan for exterior garden lights is to try and mimic – and, in some respects, enhance – the already natural effects of natural light. The tasteful and careful installation of exterior twelve-volt fixtures can create a world of beauty and simplicity that truly elevates your garden viewing experience.
Be sure to study the garden at night many times before you install lighting. Bring a flashlight – or several, preferably with varied beams and colors. Play the lights this way and that – at different angles and from different locations. What seems to work best? Keep an eye out for other sources of light. Is there a streetlight nearby? How about a neighboring house with floodlights aimed right at your property? These will impact your own garden lighting design scheme.
Remember, you’re not trying to drown your garden in virtual spotlights so much as gently boost its natural beauty and presence.
Installing garden lights can be a fun and rewarding DIY project that enhances the beauty and safety of your outdoor space. With a little planning and the right tools, you can easily install garden lights that will provide years of enjoyment. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to creating a beautiful and inviting outdoor space.