5 Biggest Garden Lighting Mistakes To Avoid

Written by Ben Forde | Posted under:

Garden lights aren't just something you throw up. There is an art and design to it. Get your garden lighting right, and you get a beautiful outdoor area you love, enjoy, and add value to your home.

Garden Lighting Mistakes to Avoid

Right below are the five biggest garden lighting mistakes you should avoid.

Mistake 1: Poor Layout Of Lights

When garden lights are placed in the right spots, your garden looks better at night. That's because there is an art and design to garden lighting.

What does a poor garden light layout look like?

Lights are placed in the garden without real thought about where I spend most of my time and what I will see. Poor layout also happens because no idea is given to the multiple viewing angles.

What do I mean by multiple viewing angles?

You might have a tree in your yard that you can see from the outdoor entertaining area. That's one angle from which you view this tree. You might also get a view of this same tree from inside the house, but it's from a different angle to the other view you get. That's a second viewing angle.

If this tree is viewed from multiple angles, it needs a couple of lights. Otherwise, you see a dark spot from one of your main viewing angles.

Another thing that leads to poor garden light layout is.

When you look at your garden, it's easy to get excited and think the more lights you jam in there, the better it will look. This is not the case. If too many lights are shoved in, your garden looks clustered and over-lit.

Mistake 2: Over Lighting

Overlighting a garden occurs when too many lights are used. When we light our garden, we're not trying to replicate daylight.

Here's what you want to keep in mind.

When you light your garden, you want to create a beautiful backdrop. What happens when a garden gets over-lit-lit? It becomes an intense, overbearing, glowing mass. Remember, your garden is not Disneyland.

Here's one way to think about garden lighting: it's like makeup. I don't personally use makeup. However, what I understand about makeup is. You only go in heavy-handed with your makeup if your job title is Rodeo Clown.

Mistake 3: One Dimensional Lighting

What's one-dimensional lighting?

It's when all the lights do the same thing; they all shine up or down. Sure, this looks okay. However, if you're after a beautiful lighting effect with some character, style, and uniqueness, you'll want to combine up and down lighting.

Here's an example of one-dimensional lighting:

All the lights used in a garden are spike lights that shine up. Because these lights have a spike that goes into the ground, there is a distance of 150mm from the ground to where the light starts. If all the lights in the garden look like this, the lighting has no depth or layers.

And likewise, if all the lights shine down, it's the same thing: no depth, and it's one-dimensional.

What can you do to add depth and dimension to your garden lighting?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Lighting trees, you can mix things up – instead of lights pointed at the tree, hanging lights in trees gives a moonlighting effect.
  • When you use In-ground lights, the body of the light gets buried in the ground, and the light part sits flush with the ground. This means the light comes from ground level, so if you had a few In-ground lights, a few garden spike lights and a few hanging lights, you'd get a beautiful lighting effect with some depth and dimension.
  • Garden lights with a mounting plate could get mounted to the fascia of the gutter or a wall fence and shine down on plants in the garden.
  • When planning your garden light layout, look at your garden and see how to use lights to shine down and up.
  • If you've got smaller plants at the front of your garden bed and bigger plants at the back, in-ground lights could be used at the front, and garden spike lights further into the garden for the bigger plants and trees.

Mistake 4: Use Solar Lights

Solar lights seem like a great idea. Use the sun's energy to light up your garden. Help the planet, and cut down on electricity.

The thing with solar garden lights is they don't give a lighting effect as beautiful as 12-volt and 24-volt garden lights. And solar lights only last for as long as 24V lights.

When solar lights stop working, most end up in the rubbish with batteries inside. That's hundreds of thousands of batteries sitting in local rubbish tips.

Even if you do the right thing, you pull the battery out and take it somewhere. What about the rest of the light? Some of it could be recycled. However, recycling is an energy-intensive process.

Another thing with solar lights is that you can't control when they turn on and off, so they run all night and deplete the battery, which dramatically shortens the battery's lifespan.

When people set up expensive solar systems with big batteries, they invest in devices that ensure the battery charges at a certain rate and the battery can't go below 10% charge. Cheap solar garden lights have a different type of setup.

I've been in the lighting business for over 10 years now. Each year, I look at solar garden lights. I've wanted to offer them to customers, but solar doesn't add up. I can't bring myself to sell something I know only last a few years if that, and ends up as rubbish.

From An Electricity Point Of View

With 12V and 24V lights, you can put them on a timer. If you wanted to run your lights all night for security reasons, they could be dimmed, meaning a dimmed light uses less power.

If you had your 24V lights on for 5 hours a night and the total watts of your garden lights was 60 watts. That's about $0.48 a night to run your garden lights in QLD. Approximately $17.61 a year.

Many of our garden lights have 10-year and Lifetime warranties. And the bulbs have 3-Year and 5-Year warranties.

If solar lights were used in a garden over ten years, you'd have to replace them 3-7+ times depending on their quality.

Mistake 5: Not Getting Help From A Lighting Expert

Would you pull your teeth out?

Of course not. You'd go and see a dentist because they know teeth.

When trying to light your garden, if you need to know what you're doing or are unsure about the best way to light your garden, it's easy to butcher your garden lighting.

Over the years, I've seen my lights in hundreds of settings. I've worked with lighting designers and architects and done hundreds of lighting plans for customers. And I study lighting design and layout, and it's great because I'm always learning.

When I do a Free Custom Lighting Plan for a customer, I look at the photos of their outdoor area and garden and go over the rough plan and drawing they gave me.

Then, I work out a lighting plan based on how the outdoor area looks and where they view it from.

I give them a detailed plan and share ideas and thoughts on lighting their garden and outdoor area. I showed them what lights could be used and what lighting effect they'd get.

I also run through.

All The Parts And Cable You Need

Here's something only a few know about. It would be best if you had the correct gauge cable.

What am I talking about?

The area you might want to light could be some 56m. To get power to all your lights, you'd need 56m of cable.

Now, depending on how many lights you want to run along the 56m cable and how many watts each light is. It would help if you had the correct size cable to avoid significant voltage drop (voltage drop does not have enough power to get to the lights, so they flicker, look dull, or stop working).

And if the wrong size cable is used and the issue is it heats up, you want something else.

With cable size!

A cable that's 1.5mm2 would be too small for a 56m run. You'd get a significant voltage drop. A cable that's 3.3mm2 is the best option, depending on the total watts of the lights.


Don't be, and I can work all this out for you.

Get A FREE Custom Garden Lighting Plan

To get a Free custom lighting plan, send pictures of the area you want to light and a rough drawing to info@fusionlighting.com.au

Then, I'll go over everything you've sent me and work out a lighting design and plan for you.

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