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Egoluce suggests how to illuminate a garden

14 July 2023

Properly illuminating the garden is essential to experience this environment fully and make it welcoming and relaxing

 

By adapting the light to the characteristics of the space and vegetation, it is possible to create memorable and spectacular settings that enhance the environment by improving its perception. Landscape and light designers can work together and bring light where it was impossible before by planning it all in advance. However, embellishing a garden with the right light is not an easy task and requires a lot of attention to detail to limit light leakage and meet the needs of safety, visual comfort, and aesthetics.

Regarding the safety aspect, it is essential to light well the pedestrian paths, steps, and driveways in the garden, guiding people inside the home in a way that avoids hazards and ensures maximum safety. The most suitable light fixtures are recessed spotlights that can be placed on the outdoor pavement on steps or walls. Alternatively, it is possible to use outdoor lamps that attach to the ground but are adjustable to better direct the light beam toward walkways, stairs, or garage access ramps. In addition to the safety of people and vehicles, these types of illuminations also have a decorative function in the garden; in fact, they spread a soft light that does not dazzle and allows maximum eye comfort. The trees and plants in the garden provide a great opportunity to create settings with a strong visual impact.

However, all trees are not the same, and to achieve the maximum scenic effect, some distinctions need to be made based on the different types of plants: tall trees in the garden with small, narrow leaves (olive or palm trees) need light from the bottom up using an adjustable spotlight. The unique shape of this leaf type allows light to filter through the foliage, thus creating emotional chiaroscuro with the contrast between light and shadow. The spotlight should be tilted and directed towards the tree to avoid pollution caused by a light oriented toward the sky. Trees with large, dense leaves (magnolia) will act as a barrier to light cancelling the scenic chiaroscuro effects, in which case the best approach is not to illuminate them. Plants 30 to 80 cm tall need medium or small light from top to bottom and placed inside the flower beds.

Border areas of the garden need to shine to emphasize their boundaries and to enhance their scenic and practical appearance. Large garden with a thick hedge around it that acts as a boundary and a protective wall can install adjustable spotlights that illuminate the greenery in a frontal manner creating and defining visible light boundary. Another solution is to place lights inside the hedge that illuminate toward the ground to mark the boundary by the light areas hidden among the leaves. Walls instead of hedges offer a solution with LED strip installation at the base to set a bright border around the perimeter.

Garden lighting will be even more interesting if the sources are always as hidden and camouflaged in the different vegetation as possible. In this way, the observer’s attention will not be focused on the light source but on the plants, bringing them into the center of the scene. The light also should never be directed toward the interior of the garden because it could cause risky shadow areas and dazzle people’s eyes. In lighting for the garden and the outdoors in general, lights dedicated to areas for relaxation, conviviality, and a variety of activities, such as reading and exercising, are also important.

These areas have the necessity of aesthetic and functional illumination. The dining table area, used in outdoor spaces, should be lit discreetly but ensure maximum functionality. A delightful solution is floor or pendant lamps installed on the pergola. Outdoor kitchens or barbecues should be illuminated to the fullest to enable food preparation even in the dark using carefully placed spotlights that will not spoil the harmony of the environment.

Lounging area, an exotic solution is floor lamps, which are great for illuminating seating and loungers, or wall lamps. Most striking architectural corners can install strip-led lights that produce beams of light creating unique scenery.

 

Characteristics of luminaires and IP rating

The IP Degree of Protection is critical for outdoor lights and corresponds to the ability to withstand solid and/or liquid weathering. The IP code is followed by two numbers representing solid-type bodies and liquid substances. The first digit indicates protection against the risk of penetration of solid-type bodies such as mold, insects, and dust; it is important because it also identifies protection from accidental contact by the user. The second number indicates the degree of protection from the penetration of liquid substances such as water and rain. Products with the correct IP are crucial for climate, location, and functionality to avoid problems during use.

For lighting outdoor spaces, whether the garden, porch, or terrace, it is necessary to choose luminaires from a range of IP44 to IP68. Lights with a warm or neutral colour temperature are recommended for the garden and various outdoor areas. Warm light creates a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere for areas dedicated to relaxation or conviviality, while neutral light is perfect for enhancing the natural colours of vegetation and improving safety and visibility in specific areas of the garden.

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