Garden lighting explained

Understanding outdoor lighting, plus a look at our own garden lights.

Garden lighting explained
The functionality of a light, its IP rating and the type of power source it has must all be considered when you’re looking for designs that’ll work in your outdoor spaces.

To set you on the right track, we’ve gathered the important bits of information below, along with the defining features of our own outdoor designs.
Types of light
Outdoor lighting generally falls into one of two categories: functional or decorative.

Functional lighting is used to directly illuminate pathways, driveways and doorways, as well as steps and paved or decked surfaces.

Styles like this tend to be fixed in place – such as on the wall or in the ground – and the light output will be high enough to ensure you can safely use the area after dark.

Decorative lighting, meanwhile, is all about adding ambience. These are the lights that you’ll use on or around a table for an al fresco evening meal, or the ones that nestle into plant pots or underneath big trees or architectural features.

Festoon lights, lanterns and ground spike lights (also called stake lights) are probably the most typical types of decorative garden lighting you’ll come across, although spike lights can be classed as functional too.
Power sources
Your fixed, functional lights will run off mains electricity. It’s unarguably the most reliable power source – your lights will shine brightly for as long as you want.

Mains voltage lights (like ours) are a great choice for larger gardens because, unlike lower-voltage types, the brightness won’t decrease as the cable length increases. Essentially, this means you won’t need to dot drivers (these are used to regulate the power to the LEDs) housed in waterproof boxes around your garden.

If you’re planning on positioning your mains voltage lights away from your house, bear in mind that a qualified electrician will need to run armoured cable underground as part of the installation process.

Portable power sources like solar and battery operated styles, on the other hand, can be used and moved wherever and whenever you want with ease – though they’ll be less consistent in their light output.
Solar lights get their energy from the sun, which means they won’t cost you a penny to run.

They can’t give a high light output, however, so they won’t be as bright as mains lights, and once the charge runs down, it’s lights out until the sun comes up.

Battery operated designs offer a more consistent light output versus solar power, but of course, they aren’t free to run. How often you’ll need to change or charge the battery will depend on the size of the light and how often it’s used.
IP ratings
We’ve covered IP ratings for indoors and outdoors in our all-encompassing guide here.

In short, IP23/33 rated lights will be sufficiently protected from rain or spraying water, while IP44 rated lights are fully splashproof. Some of our outdoor lights are IP56, which means you can safely expose them to water from a hose.

Our designs
We’ve created a number of outdoor-safe, mains-powered lights – some of which are designed especially for gardens, and some that are ideal for both indoors and outdoors.
Outdoor spotlights
Our Ealing collection is made up of ground, path and wall spotlights.

When it comes specifically to the spotlights you’ll be mounting on external walls, there are two types to pick from.

Our surface spotlight lets you run the cable out the side of the base, meaning you can route it along your wall.

Our flush spotlight, meanwhile, lets you make cable connections in its (larger) base.

Of the two, the surface spotlight will be the one to opt for if you don’t want to drill holes into your house or garage walls.

As for the ground and path designs, these both come with 20cm spikes designed to be inserted into the ground, a plant pot, or flower bed.

The ground design directs light upwards (to illuminate features from below), while the path style casts its light directly downwards, making it perfect, as the name suggests, for pathways.

With both spike styles, once the cables are laid, you won’t be able to move the lights around. So, it’s important to decide on the final positioning (by placing all the spikes gently in the ground) before working with an electrician to install them.
Wall lights
Our Richmond and Claremont wall lights are designed for out of doors as well as inside your home.

They’re IP44 rated and come in two sizes – small and medium. You can also choose the type of shade: solid brass, fluted glass or fine porcelain.

With Richmond, the proportions change with size, but the silhouette stays the same.

That’s not the case with Claremont. The medium version has not one but two shades, providing both up and down light (we think this style is particularly effective on external walls). It’s also only available in fluted glass.

We recommend using a professional to fit all Corston products. Electrical items must be installed by a qualified electrician.

Take a closer look at all the designs we’ve mentioned right here.

Featured products (Antique Brass images)
Marrakesh Moss Green Zellige floor tiles, Bert and May. Ochre wall painted in Muga 445, Paint and Paper Library. Green woodwork painted in Sage Green 80, Little Greene Paints. Capricorn digital wall panel, Little Greene Paints. Other items stylists own/prop hire.

Featured products (Bronze images)
Fez Raw Thick Bejmat tiles, Bert and May. Walls painted in Affogato 342, Little Greene Paints. Heritage Quartz gravel, Stone Warehouse. Other items stylists own/prop hire.

Bert and May
Little Greene Paints
Paint and Paper Library
Stone Warehouse