Best outdoor lights for your garden

By Ellie Reeves | 4th July 2024 | 8 min read

Transform your garden into a night-time oasis with outdoor lighting. Illuminate pathways for safety and highlight borders with a warm glow. Imagine romantic dinners under twinkling string lights or a vibrant garden party that could give Glastonbury a run for its money. The right lights can set the mood for any occasion. With endless options to explore, we’re here to help you choose the right lighting for your garden.

What area do you want to light?

The area in need of lighting often determines the best type of lighting for the space. For example, lighting up a path requires navigational lighting that clearly marks the route, unlike decorative lights that might only highlight parts of the path. Consider how you use each area of your garden to shape your lighting design effectively. This thoughtful approach will ensure your space is both functional and beautifully lit, enhancing both safety and ambience.

Outdoor lighting power sources

Power source is an important consideration when choosing the best outdoor lighting for you – most of lighting types come with more than one option.

Solar garden lights

Solar-powered lights are a breeze - no wiring needed! They soak up sunlight by day and glow beautifully by night. Thanks to tech advancements, they’re more powerful and longer lasting. Just place them where you like, and enjoy effortless illumination.

Battery-powered garden lights

Battery-powered lights are just as wire-free and portable as solar ones, offering steady brightness until the battery runs out. However, frequent use or larger lights mean more battery changes, which can add up. If you’re looking for larger options that will be used all the time, consider cost-effective solar-powered or electric options.

Electrical garden lights

Electrical lighting consistently burns brightly and for us long as you want it to. Being a permanent fixture, it has to be fixed into place and be properly fitted.

Types of outdoor lights

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Outdoor wall lights

Used to enhance the exterior of your home as well as light up your garden, wall lights come in a wide range of designs – both traditional and modern to suit your look. Many are fitted with a passive infrared sensor (PIR), so it's activated only when motion is detected in a certain range (which can be as wide as eight metres). This ensures it's used efficiently to help save energy. These lights offer a choice of power supply - so opt for mains, solar or battery power depending on your set-up. See our collections for other coordinating lights.

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Post lights

Also known as bollards, post lights are great for navigating, popularly used to light paths, driveways and house entrances. Because of this, they commonly require mains power and to be fitted into place - although we offer a few solar-powered options. Ours range from 0.44 to 1.22 metres (m) in height. Look out for models with matching wall lights to create a coordinated design throughout your garden.

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Security lights

Ideal for deterring intruders and allowing you to move safely around in the dark, most of our security lights have a passive infrared (PIR) sensor that's only activated when objects or people come into its field of view. This not only saves energy, but also ensures that neighbours and wildlife aren't disturbed by a constant beam of light. When choosing your PIR security light, pay attention to the detection angle – this tells you how wide an area the sensor covers. Also, many of our sensor lights offer you the option of setting how long the light stays on once activated, as well as choosing the level of darkness at which the sensor starts detecting motion.

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Stake lights

Light up your flowerbeds and paths with stake lights. Being solar-powered, these are quickly and easily fitted by simply pushing them into the ground with no wiring needed. Our range offers stake lights up to 56 centimetres (cm) tall and they're available individually or in multipacks. Add some interest with our colour-changing models. Complement with our mains-powered spotlight stake lights - perfect for highlighting a particular feature in your garden, such as a tree or structure.

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Decking lights

Decking lights work nicely with both ground-level and raised decks - offering much-needed guidance when moving up and down the steps of elevated terraces. If considering adding decking to your garden, stock up on decking lights before you begin construction as they need to be fitted into the boards before completion. Our decking lights are available in multipacks of two, six and ten and can be solar or mains powered. Choose from different sizes and lighting colours - white and blue - to find the right ones for your decking.

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Garden string lights

Similar to Christmas fairy lights, string lighting is ideal for spreading some party spirit. Available as either solar or battery powered, this decorative option comes with white, blue or multi-coloured bulbs and in a range of designs including eye-catching stars. Wrap around fences, parasols, trellis or handrails for lighting fun into the night. Why not keep your lights securely hung with a decorative hanging basket bracket or external clips for a damage-free solution?

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Festoon lights

Festoon lighting is the perfect way to add a touch of magic to your garden. These charming string lights create a warm, inviting glow that’s ideal for any outdoor gathering, from intimate dinners to lively parties. Festoon lights are versatile and easy to install, making them a fantastic choice for anyone looking to enhance their outdoor space. Let your garden sparkle with the enchanting charm of festoon lighting.

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Garden lanterns

For an atmospheric and decorative lighting option, consider lanterns. Offered in an attractive range of colours, styles and materials, this portable option can be stood or hung creating lighting effects at varied heights for maximum impact. Choose between solar-powered, battery-powered or candles, with the lantern's clever design protecting the flame of the candle from any wind.

Outdoor lighting and IP ratings

Wondering what IP ratings are? When it comes to outdoor lighting, whether it's electrical, battery-powered, or solar, the IP (Ingress Protection) rating is your guide. It tells you how well your lights can fend off water and dust.

The first digit of an IP rating refers to intrusion protection – whether you're protected from its moving parts, as well how protected the equipment is from foreign bodies:

  • 0: No special protection.
  • 1: Protection from a large part of the body, such as a hand (but no protection from deliberate access); from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter.
  • 2: Protection against fingers or other objects no greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter.
  • 3: Protection from entry by tools, wires etc. with a diameter of 2.5 mm or more.
  • 4: Protection against solid bodies larger than 1mm (e.g. small tools).
  • 5: Protected against dust that may harm equipment.
  • 6: Totally dust-tight.

The second digit of an IP rating refers to protection against moisture:

  • 0: No protection.
  • 1: Protection against condensation.
  • 2: Protection against water droplets deflected up to 15 degrees from vertical.
  • 3: Protection against spray up to 60 degrees from vertical.
  • 4: Protection against water spray from all directions.
  • 5: Protection against low-pressure water jets (all directions).
  • 6: Protection against string water jets and waves.
  • 7: Protection against temporary immersion.
  • 8: Protection against prolonged effects of immersion under pressure.

So, for example, a light with an IP rating of 68 will be very protected from both intrusion and moisture and would therefore be ideal for your garden pond.

A number replaced by an X indicates that the enclosure is not rated for that specification. Therefore, a light with a rating of X4 hasn't been rated for intrusion, but offers protection from water spray in any direction.

Best bulbs for outdoor lights

Before buying your electric, solar or battery-powered lighting, consider the type of bulbs they use.

Incandescent light bulbs

A cost effective light bulb, incandescent bulbs work by heating a wire filament until it’s so hot that it glows with a visible light – this means that they take a few seconds to reach full brightness. They are the least energy efficient of all light bulbs and have shorter lifetimes than other options. Incandescent light bulbs can also get quite hot over time, so if you have children or pets make sure that you only choose lighting that is out of reach to avoid injury.

Halogen light bulbs

Halogen bulbs offer an energy saving of 20% compared to incandescent light bulbs and reach full brightness instantly. They're also better for the environment, but, like incandescent bulbs, they have a short lifetime and get hot when used for extended periods.

LED light bulbs

LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs save 90% more energy and will last 30% longer than incandescent light bulbs. They offer full brightness instantly so you don’t have to wait for full illumination and aren't made from harmful materials so can be disposed of safely.

For more information, check out our buyer’s guide to light bulbs for help choosing the right ones for your home.

Bulb wattage

Measured in watts (W).

This refers to the energy released by the bulb and therefore how bright it is – the higher the wattage, the brighter your outdoor lighting will be.