Here is Part 2 of our two-part series on great lighting techniques for your garden. See Part 1 here.

These techniques can be equally well used in a small garden or city courtyard as in a larger garden. The trick is to think about what the key feature of your space is going to be and to light accordingly. It’s also important not to over-do it, as with lighting less is more and dramatic effects are created by the unexpected. If you try to do too much lighting it won’t work, not least because too much light, even the most directional spot lights, has a habit of ‘leaking’ into surrounding areas and creating a ‘washed out’ effect.


This is created by using low-level stem mounted lights with a shade on top to cast the light downwards and avoid glare. They are usually used to provide illumination for paths, steps, terraces and areas of low-level planting such as herb borders. Use spreadlighting – also known as path lights.


The intention of this effect is to create an even light that highlights a wall to create an intimate atmosphere by defining the space. This differs from Grazing because the light is positioned away from the wall, giving a more muted illumination, rather than trying to provide high definition to the textures of the wall. Lights to use for this are wide beam spike spots and floodlights.


This is usually done for functional reasons rather than to create an effect – although the effect can also be stunning! The light is provided by small lights set into a flanking wall which can have louvres or hoods to disperse the light and reduce glare. Alternatively you can also use LED strips to light the edges of the steps. Use recessed or surface mounted steplights or LED strips.


The intention of this is to throw the shadow of a small plant onto a surface – a wall or paving depending on the positioning of the lamp. It serves to exaggerate the role of a plant or tree in the overall vista, and works well in city courtyards or newly planted areas as it distracts from the ‘just planted’ look of a bed or border by highlighting a specific feature. Use adjustable spike spotlights or wall spotlights

Vista Lighting

This technique gently illuminates the foreground in such a way that the background is not cast into too much shadow due to glare. The effect is to enhance the ‘depth of field’ of the overall vista. It can be successfully used to light a patio with the¬†view of the garden beyond, or with a roof terrace. Use eyelid steplights or downlights.

Silhouetting and Backlighting

This is done by illuminating a surface or wall behind an object so the sharp dark outline of the object is enhanced in the foreground. This is different from backlighting which produces a ‘halo’ effect around the object. Both effects work well for smaller trees and can create a sense of space in a smaller area. Use spotlights or floodlights.


This technique is achieved by accent lighting a feature on the far side of a pool of water so it creates a reflection on the surface. This is particularly effective if done so it can be seen from the house or terrace. The surface of the water needs to be still and dark, so no underwater lighting should be used. Use Uplights and spots and floodlights.