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04 March 2024

Light up your life


By Ben Haberfield

Lighting is an aspect of the garden that is often overlooked. Yet, I think it is the crowning glory of any landscaped garden as it makes the space outside usable at night and creates a magical view when seen from inside the home.

A combination of lighting configurations can create an array of different moods, from soft lighting in seating areas to spot lighting on ornamental shrubs and low level lighting on pathways.

Outdoor lighting has come on leaps and bounds recently with the growing interest in contemporary garden design. LEDs (light emitting diodes) are becoming popular in the UAE due to their versatility and extremely low power consumption. They can be pre-programmed to change to any colour so there is no limit to the applications they can be used in.

When it comes to designing a lighting plan the first thing to do is ascertain your needs, for example, what is your anticipated usage of the garden at night? A seating area, barbecue, swimming pool, pathways? Consider the budget too and decide what visual features to highlight.

It is important to take into account how your eyes react to light. Eyes are naturally attracted to bright light, and it takes time to adjust to low light levels, so avoid dramatic changes in brightness to eliminate eye discomfort.

There are two basic types of light source; spot light and flood light. Spot lighting illuminates within a specific area, and can be used to highlight ornamental features leaving the area around them dark, so that they become the focal point. Flood lighting casts a wide general light over an area that is brightest in the centre and gradually fades to darkness. Flood lighting is used for example to light up seating areas, pathways and patios.

Indirect lighting is when the light source is reflected on to another surface, so that the main source is hidden and a soft ambient light is given. These types of lighting can be used in three basic ways, up lighting, down lighting and cross lighting.

Once you've selected where the light fixtures should go, think about where to place the switches, so they can be easily accessible. Put the lights in different areas around the garden and use a dimmer to create moods for various occasions.

It is important to remember when buying lights to make sure they are for outdoor use only and ensure you get a registered qualified electrician to install them properly.

- Ben Haberfield has been in the garden design business for 10 years in Australia, Indonesia, Europe and now the UAE. To find out more log on to www.growgardens.ae