Lighting Design

Garden lighting: the 5 golden rules of lighting professionals for designing elegant and attractive outdoor spaces

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Are you designing your new home and want the garden to be as sleek as the interiors?

Designing classy outdoor spaces will require the same attention and dedication as the interiors.

Your home’s exterior will make or break the first impression your friends and family will get… And the garden lighting allows you to create spectacular settings that will make your home shine even in the dark.

But embellishing a garden with the perfect light is no easy task.

I often see very exclusive houses or villas with bulky post lights scattered around the lawn… 

In addition to giving the garden a boring and lifeless look, these types of lights make mowing harder than it needs to be.

The right lighting scheme is the one thing that can transform an ordinary garden into an outdoor space that really stands out.

That’s why I’ve selected for you the 5 golden rules for giving a garden a unique and inviting atmosphere thanks to the modern lighting techniques.

By adapting these rules to your specific needs, your garden’s look will immediately win over your guests.

Let’s get started!

1 – Illuminate the access paths with recessed lights

The primary purpose of garden and outdoor lighting is safety.

For this reason, it is essential to illuminate walkways and driveways well, and guide people inside the house. 

The best lighting fixtures for this purpose are recessed lights, which you should install before laying the pavement.

This type of solution will make walkways driveways. 

You’ll avoid the risk of people falling because of poor lighting… And annoying damage to cars entering or leaving the garage. 

In addition to the safety of people and vehicles, this type of spotlight also has a more decorative function. 

The spotlights’ glow will help spread a soft light into the garden, which will be very comfortable to see. 

2 – Uplight trees… But only if they have the “right foliage”.

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The trees in your garden are a fantastic opportunity to create a unique setting.

But the trees are not all the same. 

And to achieve the best possible visual effect, we must make an important distinction.

If there are tall trees in your garden, you will have to light them from the bottom upwards using an adjustable outdoor spotlight

The spotlight should be tilted and directed towards the tree, to avoid lighting pollution caused by a light shot towards the sky. 

However, not all trees are suitable for this type of lighting.

Let me explain it better. 

An olive tree, a cork tree, or a palm tree have small, narrow leaves that allow light to filter through the foliage, creating emotional plays of light and dark. 

This contrast between light and shade, multiplied by the leaves, accentuates the plasticity of the foliage and, therefore, the tree’s uniqueness.  

But a tree like a magnolia has wide, thick leaves that will act as a barrier.

With this type of tree, the best approach is to leave them in the dark.

3 – Illuminate low-growing plants from above

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Plants with a height of 30 to 80 cm should be illuminated from above, using specific lighting fixtures.

For example, in the OLEV catalogue you can find the Zoe outdoor lights, which are designed specifically for this purpose.

Zoe street lamps are available in 3 sizes of 50, 70, and 90 cm and have a refined shape that projects the light downwards. 

In this way, they allow you to illuminate bushes and plants with an average height (for example those inside flowerbeds) from above.

4 – Light the hedge and the borders 

Imagine a large garden with a few trees and a thick hedge that acts as a protective wall.  

The customer’s request is always to see the border clearly, and in this case you have 2 possibilities:

  • If there are flowerbeds in front of the hedge, you can install adjustable spotlights that illuminate it in a frontal way. In this way you will create a barrier of light, which defines a very visible border.
  • If there are no flowerbeds, you can install spotlights inside the hedge, which direct the light to the ground: the border will be defined by the light spots hidden between the leaves.
  • If there are walls instead of hedges, you can install LED strips at the base that will draw a seamless light band running around the entire perimeter.

The mistake you should never make is to project the light from the hedge towards the inside, as it will dazzle the people dining outside. 

If you have already planned an outdoor area with a table for dining outside, the last thing you want is to spend the whole evening shielding the view from light in your eyes.

In addition to that, lighting directed towards the house poses a severe security threat. 

If an intruder steps onto the property through the edge, they’ll advantage of the fact that they will be entirely in the shadows. 

Your eyes will be dazzled by the light, and you will not be able to see their movements. 

5 – Hide the lights as much as possible in the vegetation

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The garden will be even more fascinating if the lighting sources are hidden and camouflaged in the vegetation as much as possible.

In this way the attention will not be focused on the light source but on the plants, bringing them to the centre of the scene.

To achieve this effect, you will need adjustable spotlights and outdoor street lamps designed specifically for this purpose

Safety, visual comfort and aesthetics: this is how professionals will light up your garden

As you have read, modern lighting that enhances the beauty of a large garden cannot be solved with a few outdoor lamps scattered here and there… Nor can it be illuminated like a football pitch. 

You have to consider the needs of safety, visual comfort and, of course, the aesthetics

The beauty of the vegetation that makes your home unique during the day requires a light that can make it live at night.

To achieve a truly spectacular effect, the lighting must be adapted to the specific characteristics of the vegetation and space.

You need the expertise of a professional who will help you select and create a tailor-made lighting project for you.

The good news is that we at OLEV have hundreds of such illuminations in our portfolio… And we can help you make sure that your home has stunning outdoor spaces.


If you want to make the most of the opportunity to work with our team of lighting designers, all you have to do is click HERE and fill out the contact form!