Before you start deciding on which lamps you want to buy for your yard, there’s two things you have to do first:
Set the mood for your landscape
It’s evening. A warm summer night. You are doing whatever you want to be doing in your backyard at that time. Reading and chill, partying with friends, a barbecue, whatever.
Think about how much light and how intense it should be. You probably don’t want bright, white light everywhere for a barbecue, but too little light may be a bit too creepy. Some well-placed indirect light sources with warm light can set a real cozy mood though.
Is there a place you want to be able to light up? Like a bench where you can read? You will probably need more than a low indirect light to read.
Or maybe a statue or fountain you want to spotlight?
Make a plan
If you’ve read any of my other articles, you know that I’m big on plans.
Create at least a rough sketch of your garden, backyard or whatever you want to light up. Then, I would start adding the “spotlights” on whatever you want to highlight.
Then add the necessary lighting for walkways and similar paths. Add lighting for the areas you want to be in. I would use mostly indirect and/or lower, warmer lights for those.
You can add some indirect lights by placing them under or behind shrubs, or by shining them at a tree. This can light up the garden without feeling too direct or unnatural.
What kind of lighting can you use?
The most expensive and complicating lighting ist high-voltage one. Anything with 120 volts or above will need special wiring, buried deep enough and properly shielded. You will definitely need an electrician for that. This makes it rather expensive to install.
Lower voltage light can use a transformer to transform the household 120 volt to 12 volt or whatever your light needs.
Another great option is solar lighting. They charge up during the day so they can shine at night. Thus, you don’t need any wiring! But of course, this only works if you have enough sun.
Generally, you want to avoid placing few but powerful lights. They create strong shadows and often feel unnatural. Instead, use multiple light sources in different distances and angles, to fully illuminate the target. This is great for a fountain, statue, tree or whatever else you need lightened up.
For paths, put some soft lights near the ground, shining across the path with a soft, low light. You don’t want the lights themselves to be visible, just the luminosity they spread.