Now the holiday season is done, our yards, doorways, and gardens are once again dark early in the winter evenings. By adding some simple non-holiday lighting to your garden you can enhance the look of your home and create a stunning night design for any season. Three simple ways to do so are with solar lights, spotlights, and accent lights.
Lightening outdoor gardens with solar lights creates a soft light at dusk and into the evening. These lights can be simple path markers or more elaborate and decorative designs. For garden walkways, simply line the walkway every one to two feet with a solar light or randomly scatter the lights along the path. Alternatively, you can place solar lights in the font of a garden bed near low-growing plants so they shine through the flowers or plants. These lights also look nice under shade trees, around any ground covers or accent plants growing under the tree.
Spotlights look lovely lighting up large trees with character such as birch or oak. You can choose between a solar spotlight or one that requires an electrical outlet. To use a spotlight, simply insert the light into the ground so light shines up onto the trunk of the tree and through the canopy. Depending on the size of the tree, you may wish to use two spotlights - one on either side of the trunk. Spotlights can also be used with shrubs or to light up accent plantings. As an added benefit, spotlights can also help light up the house to boost security around your home.
Another way to use lights outdoors is with accent lights. Simply attach a string of outdoor lights under arbors, pergolas, or porches. During the summer, these lights beckon you outside to enjoy an evening meal with friends and family. During the dark winter months, these lights brighten up the garden and allow you to reminisce about the summer months spent in the garden.
Garden lighting can fit almost any budget. Solar lights help reduce long-term energy costs as do low energy LED lights. And, sometimes one simple light can make a huge difference. Several years ago, my in-laws placed one spotlight by a Scotch pine to create a stunning look. Sadly the tree had to be removed due to disease, but because of the simple, yet elegant lighting effect, I can still visualize the tree's grace and beauty.
Anne Lenox Barlow is the horticulture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. CCE offices may be reached in Clinton County at 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; and Franklin County, 483-7403. E-mail your questions to askMG@cornell.edu.