9 Flower Garden Tips for Lighting Your Garden Better

A beautiful, thriving garden takes a lot of hard work. From planting and tending to weeding and nurturing, the most beautiful gardens are a labor of love. If you’re a green thumb with a beautiful garden, you deserve all the pride that comes with it!

When the sun goes down, illuminating your flower garden is one of the best ways to draw attention to the unique aspects that make it so exquisite. But, to do that takes more than a few flood lights. Like planting and tending it, there’s a lot that goes into lighting your garden. Below are some of the best tips for not only how to light it, but also how to bring out the unique beauty you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.

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9 Flower Garden Tips for Lighting Your Garden Better

Remember, flower garden lighting is different from full landscape lighting, because garden features and flowers are much smaller than trees, statues and hardscapes. It takes delicate precision to exemplify your flower garden! Here’s how.

flower garden tips

1. Adjust intensity

Don’t light your garden with one uniform level of light unless it’s a uniform planting. Use different light intensities and beam styles to light different types of foliage, from flowers and ground-level shrubs to hanging plants and creepers. As a rule of thumb, use higher intensity lights for feature plants and lower intensity lighting for background lighting. 

2. Up-light larger flowers 

Consider the type of flowers in your garden and how best to illuminate them. For example, bigger flowers like hydrangeas or sunflowers are best lit with up-lighting because they’re so tall and broad. Up-lighting for larger flowers also creates dimension, giving depth to these already-imposing plants.

3. Consider creepers 

Do you have creeping plants in your garden, like phlox or ivy? Whether they’re growing up a wall or spread across a trellis, lighting creepers is important because it creates ambiance. Use softer lighting for creepers to distinguish them as background accents while you light feature plants with more intensity.

4. Vertical lights for hanging plants 

Hanging planters are a favorite in gardens that extend upward, with trellises, pergolas and fencing around them. Make sure hanging planters get due attention with vertical lighting installations. These should generally be softer lights, designed to extend illumination so hanging plants aren’t left in darkness.

5. Define the perimeter

Use stake-in or ground-level lighting to mark the perimeter of your garden or to section-off defined areas of a larger garden. This helps give your foliage profile after the sun goes down, instead of fading into the darkness. Perimeter lighting also provides context for feature lighting.

6. More, not brighter

Most garden owners want to light up their garden with one or two big flood lights. While this does the trick, it doesn’t add any dimension. Use more lights with lower light intensity to give your garden a softer glow that’s equally as illuminating.

7. Backlighting is best

Very little of your garden should be front-lit. Light from the side or rely on backlighting to add ambiance to your foliage. Too much head-on lighting will wash out the many colors of your flowers and erase the details that might otherwise come through with soft backlighting.

8. Temper light warmth

Look at the colors of your garden and adjust the warmth/coolness of your lighting to complement those colors. For example, the warm tones of marigolds and Inca lilies look great bathed in warmer hues, while lavender and fox gloves shine in cooler tones.

9. Buy better lights

Anyone can string globe lights above their garden or stake in some cheap $10 solar lamps and call it a day. But this isn’t going to produce beautiful results. Your garden deserves the illumination of high-quality outdoor lights, designed specifically for garden lighting. A better aesthetic is worth the money!

When lighting it, think of your garden like you do from a planting standpoint. You’re not just tending a garden; rather, you’re giving each type of plant the attention it deserves to take root and flourish. The key to a beautiful garden is individualized care and attention. It’s the same for lighting. Light your tulips different from your box bushes and your creeping ivy different from your chrysanthemums. Given unique attention, each part of your garden will stand out beautifully.

There’s also something to be said for the size of your garden. A small 12’ x 12’ plot of earth shouldn’t be visible from space! Tamp down on your lighting to give smaller gardens a softer glow. For large, sprawling gardens, use accent lighting and creative backlighting instead of broad swaths of indiscriminate illumination. The goal isn’t to light everything up—it’s to showcase the appeal of the garden you’ve worked hard to maintain.

Start small and keep building. An accent light here, a backlight there—it adds up quickly. Soon, you’ll have a garden people stop to admire even after the sun goes down.

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