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Garden Lighting Effects and Terminology

Creative garden lighting can be used to create a wide variety of different effects...

Some of the effects and terminologies used are as follows:



As the term implies this is where spotlights are ground mounted and the light directed to plants and trees from underneath. This can create dramatic effects as it reverses the normal perspective of daylight from above. It is especially effective at illuminating trees and large shrubs. Adjustable spike mounted spots lights are the most commonly used type of light for this effect.


Floodlights or wide angle spot lights are used to spread an even coverage on a back wall to define a space or create a backdrop. Coloured floodlights can make for some beautiful effects in a walled garden or patio area. To create an even coverage the lights must be mounted some distance from the wall itself.


This is a similar effect to wall washing but the lights are placed at an acute angle from a ground position. This will cast a strong shadow and emphasise the texture of the wall surface. Spike or surface mounted spotlights or down lights can be used to achieve this feature.


As the term implies this is simply lighting a feature from above. A wall mounted spotlight or floodlight on a wall or a bough of a tree is used to project a pool of light onto a feature below or can be used to illuminate a path or a flower garden from above. It can also be used to complement other lights such as uplighters.


Spreadlights are specialist low level, usually mushroom or pagoda shaped lights mounted on a single column. They provide a glare free pool of light to illuminate a path, deck, terrace or low plant area. The light source is hidden under the mushroom top which distinguishes it from other Path or Bollard lights.


Bollard lighting is used as a safety feature to provide lighting for drive, pathways and parking areas. It usually consists of a light source mounted within a tubular structure of robust construction. Generally it is used with a mains voltage supply but 12v ES LED bulbs are now available, which effectively convert 240v bollards to a 12v bollard.


This refers to the placing of a light at the side of subject such as a statue, fountain or tree so that the light beam shines across it. The light source can be an adjustable spike mount spotlight, or wall/surface mount spotlight.


This refers to the method of placing a spotlight directly in front of a subject such as a plant or statue so that its shadow shows on a wall behind the subject. This way a small plant or tree can be made to look much bigger. The best lights for this purpose are adjustable spike or surface mount spotlights.


These are not normally intended to illuminate underwater features, but of course they can be. Generally they are used to illuminate a fountain or waterfall. To create a shimmering effect, the underwater spotlight should be placed where the water is disturbed by a waterfall or spray.


As the term implies this is an effect using the reflection from a water feature to mirror an image .The spotlight must be positioned on the opposite side of the water to give the mirror image of the tree or statue etc.


This is the term whereby individual features of trees, plants, statues are highlighted by focusing spotlights upon them Spotlights to use for this are adjustable spike lights, downlights and wall mounted spotlights.


By lighting a surface behind an object a silhouette or dark outline of an object is created. Spike mounted spotlightsand floodlights are the best lights to use for silhouetting.


These are similar to bollard lighting but usually of more ornate appearance and are used as a safety feature to enable paths to be freely negotiated at night. They can vary in height from around 400mm to 800mm according to the height of the surrounding foliage. Normally mains powered they are also available in 12v versions. Mains types using ES lamp holders can be used on 12v systems using the newly available 12v Es LED lamps.