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There’s still a month or two of warm weather ahead, but the days are getting noticeably shorter and the nights longer. So, if you want to make the most of balmy later-summer and early-autumn evenings with a bit of alfresco living, lighting is going to be key. To help, I’ve teamed up with Lights4fun – Europe’s leading online retailer of decorative home lighting – to share 10 beautiful ways to illuminate and enhance your outside space. All the below ideas will produce stunning results with very little effort, and there are options to suit all types of plot, whether you have a sprawling country garden, a compact urban courtyard or a small balcony.
Add elegance with festoon lights
Festoon lights are one of the simplest and most elegant ways to create an inviting atmosphere. They can be strung above dining and sitting areas, hung along fences or balcony railings, or even suspended from poles staked in the ground. And they’re ideal for zoning your space, giving the impression of welcoming alfresco ‘rooms’. What’s more, there’s a style for everyone, from contemporary opal-white bulbs on sleek black or white cables to more rustic-looking options with visible filaments. And don’t worry if you don’t have an outdoor plug socket, as there are plenty of solar-powered and battery-operated designs to choose from.
Make the most of your parasol
If you have a parasol for daytime shade, why not put it to good use once the sun goes down by entwining it with lights? You can buy sets designed specifically for this, with strings that run along the arms of the parasol and a central loop for the upright support.
Use LED candles for ambiance
Few things are more romantic or more relaxing than the soft, dancing glow of candlelight, but the slightest hint of a breeze can blow out the flame or increase the fire risk. Battery-powered LED candles are the perfect outdoor solution, and Lights4fun has a range of waterproof options for alfresco use. They’re designed to look like wax and flicker to mimic the real thing; you can even set them on a timer or control them via remote. They look amazing placed in lanterns, dotted along tables and walls, and grouped in clusters on patios or balconies.
Create a fairy-light canopy…
It’s easy to construct a magical canopy over dining and sitting areas by zig-zagging outdoor string lights back and forth at intervals. You can loop them around handy tree branches or beams, or screw discreet hooks into exterior walls.
…Or a fairy-light cascade
Twist lights around trees
Fairy lights also look captivating wrapped around tree trunks and branches. If you have a large tree you can create an enchanted-forest feel with a long string of lights, but even adding a few to a potted olive, a bay tree or a small shrub will create a wonderful effect. Warm white bulbs look stunning against dark leaves, while white lights are particularly striking when paired with pale bark like silver birch. And if you choose lights with a green cable, it will be almost invisible among the foliage.
Hang paper lanterns from branches
Another way to make use of trees is by dangling paper lanterns from the branches. Lights4fun’s ‘Miami’ solar lanterns cast a lovely soft glow after dark, and they look very pretty unlit during the day too. What’s more, they can be collapsed down and easily stored away over winter.
Add floor and table lamps
Alfresco floor and table lamps instantly produce a cosy atmosphere. Placed by an easy chair or a garden sofa, they create a welcoming reading nook much like they would inside – and there’s an array of wireless, rechargeable designs.
Highlight your favourite features
Outdoor spotlights and uplighters are a great way to accentuate trees, flowerbeds, ponds and planters. There are various options to suit different set-ups, including easy-to-move solar-powered designs that you peg into the ground, waterproof lights that you can submerge in water, and more permanent solutions that require hard-wiring. Just choose something discreet that will blend into the background, ensuring the focus is on whatever you want to showcase rather than the light itself.
Illuminate pathways and decking
Finally, use stake lights, lanterns or festoon lights on hooks to highlight paths, walkways and the edges of decking – particularly useful if your outdoor sitting / dining area is a long way from the door, or if your garden has hazardous drops, level changes and ponds that might not be visible in the dark. Solar-powered or timer-controlled options that automatically switch themselves on at dusk are especially handy.
Browse Lights4fun’s full range of outdoor lighting here.
All photography via Lights4fun