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Five outdoor lighting ideas to transform your garden

Discover garden lighting secrets that will turn your outdoor space from drab to fab!

It doesn’t matter whether you have a garden, a balcony, or a forest of foliage, lighting is the secret behind making any outdoor space feel truly magical. But conjuring up amazing outdoor lighting ideas isn’t always easy, which is why we’ve scoured the High Street in search of some of the best lighting ideas to make your garden or balcony sparkle and shine.

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The best news? Outdoor lighting doesn’t have to cost the earth. From colourful festoon lights and fairy lights to in-style bohemian lanterns, there are hundreds of budget-friendly lighting ideas that can create warm evening ambience without breaking the bank. 

1. Festival vibes 

Strings of festoon lights will create an informal and fun atmosphere in your outdoor space. Svartra LED outdoor lighting chain in black, £29, IKEA
Strings of festoon lights will create an informal and fun atmosphere in your outdoor space. Svartra LED outdoor lighting chain in black, £29, IKEA

Whether it’s a romantic meal for two or a socially-distanced bbq, getting out in the open can be a great way to boost your mood and vary your surroundings. But as autumn approaches, it’s important to make sure your garden is ready for those darker evenings – which means an outdoor lighting design which is functional as well as eye-catching.

When it comes to seating areas, festoon lights are a great way to add soft overhead lighting. Known for their versatility, you can quickly drape them over a pagoda, along a balcony, between trees, or even using hook posts, to create instant atmosphere. For larger spaces, you can even create chains of festoon lights to make a dramatic evening look. Plus, as they don’t need to attached to anything, they’re great for renters! 

2. Feature foliage

Opt for battery-powered lighting fixtures to have full flexibility when it comes to designing your outdoor lighting scheme. Starburst LED hanging light, £23.92, Annabel James
Opt for battery-powered lighting fixtures to have full flexibility when it comes to designing your outdoor lighting scheme. Starburst LED hanging light, £23.92, Annabel James

The secret to magical outdoor lighting designs? Zoning. No matter how big or how small your outdoor space is, it’s important to identify your zones and the areas you want to highlight. For balconies, your zones could be focussed around a small bistro table and a cluster of floor-level potted plants, while for larger gardens, you may want to highlight dining areas, pathways and larger foliage or trees.

Hanging lights are perfect for nestling amongst trees and illuminating shrubs – just remember the magic number is three, five, or seven to achieve a stylised look.

3. Sophisticated sconces 

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Elegant wall lights and sconces will give your home instant kerb-appeal. Lynton IP44 swan neck outdoor wall lantern in black, Iconic Lights, £30

While temporary outdoor lighting ideas like festoon lights, rope lights and fairy lights are a great quick fix, permanent outdoor lighting features are perfect for adding sophisticated details and showing off a truly bespoke lighting design. 

If you want to dip your toe in the world of permanent outdoor lighting fixtures, then wall sconces are your first step. Available in a huge variety of styles and finishes, they’re ideal for adding ambience and giving a home a polished look.

If you’re not sure where your lights should be placed, entrances and exits are a great place to start. Be sure to look out for light fixtures with a rating of IP44 and above to ensure your fixtures are suitable for outdoor use, too.

4. Pretty parasols 

Create a magical glowing canopy using your parasol and battery-powered fairy lights. Festoon outside parasol lights, £16.99, Lights4Fun
Create a magical glowing canopy using your parasol and battery-powered fairy lights. Festoon outside parasol lights, £16.99, Lights4Fun

Though they may not seem like it, parasols are the perfect place to add a dash of sparkle above your outdoor dining area and help illuminate your guests after the sun goes down. Try wrapping a set of outdoor battery-powered fairy lights around your umbrella’s beams, or even suspending decorative bulbs to add a touch of sparkle to your canopy.

When it comes to colour choices, opt for a warm white colour to give your awning a warm and cosy glow, or get funky with an array of fun multi-coloured bulbs!

5. Layer with lanterns

Stylist top tip: vary the heights and styles of your floor lanterns to add interest to your patio or balcony. Assorted lanterns, from £17.50, John Lewis & Partners
Stylist top tip: vary the heights and styles of your floor lanterns to add interest to your patio or balcony. Assorted lanterns, from £17.50, John Lewis & Partners

You’ve tackled your wall lights and considered your overhead lighting options, now it’s time to cast your eyes on the floor. Though it may seem like an unusual area to highlight in your lighting design, floor lights are great for creating a relaxed feel in your garden or patio area.

This season, it’s all about floor lanterns. Often associated with boho interiors, floor lanterns are now available in a huge variety of shapes and sizes to complement every home’s design. Go for a minimal look with a sleek black-framed square lantern, or lean in to the bohemian vibe with brass lanterns featuring intricate cut-outs. 

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When it comes to styling your lanterns, try to work in layers; larger lanterns can be placed on the floor, while smaller lanterns can be placed on benches or along steps leading up to entrances. Just be sure to use waterproof battery-powered candles or lights inside the lanterns to keep children and pets safe.