Take your lights outside – How to make your garden smart

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Outdoor Flex Light strip in garden

Making your garden smarter with Innr

Having a garden is awesome, especially during a sweet summer sunset. But what happens after the sunlight is gone, or when it gets too cold to go outside? We asked Judith – Innr’s lighting designer and product manager – to show us the secrets to light your garden exactly the way you want it. And in case you don’t like reading, we’ve added pictures!

Taking it outside - Making your garden smarter with Innr

The different types of outdoor lighting

To make it easier to explain the do’s and don’ts we’ve created a model garden and placed all kinds of Outdoor fixtures in different locations and numbered them. Each with their own function, which we’ll be explaining below. But first, some basic lighting knowledge for your first setup. To start off, there are three categories of lighting to think about when starting any smart lighting setup:

Play around with light, colours and shadows in your garden. In addition to adding lighting, keep dark areas to create depth, which can make your garden larger or cosier, depending on how you use it!

General lighting

You want your garden to be comfortable and safe. General lighting makes sure you can see where you’re going. If you have different levels of elevation in your garden you probably want to lighten up any tripping hazards. In our garden, the Flex Strips on the stairs (1) and the Pedestals (2) accentuate the path in the garden so you know where to go. We also highlighted the ‘end’ of the garden, to view what happens in your garden and making you feel safe in your own Outdoor world.

Accent lighting

If you have an eye-catcher in your garden, you want to highlight it, even when it’s dark outside. Accent lighting is used to show off your favourite plant, tree, statue or ceramic poodle. The Spots are perfect for accentuating, which is why we’ve placed plenty of them in our model garden. Number 4  highlight the two trees in the back, number 5 highlights the support beam for the pergola.

Task-specific lighting

Think about what you’re going to be doing in your garden. Do your kids like to play football on the lawn? Then make sure it can be properly lit in the evening. If you like to read a book on your lounge chair in the back of the garden, make sure there’s enough lighting available to do so. We’ve done just that by placing multiple Spots (6) on the fence in the back and by adding some extra lights to the pergola.

 

I am the proud owner of a garden, where do I start to make it smart?

The best place to start is to think about what you’ll be doing in your garden and what ambience you want to add. In our model garden we’ve thought of four common scenarios:

  • A dinner setting
  • A relaxing evening
  • A garden party
  • Sitting inside the house

Now, without smart lighting, you’d need a ton of lights to properly set up your garden for these scenarios. But we’re smarter than that, so all we have to do is place our lights in a couple of strategic spots and use the app to set up scenes for every occasion. We’ll show you our thought process for every scenario.

Dim, or even complete turn off some lights to accentuate certain parts of your garden even more. In the dinner setting we’ve switched off the Flex strip in the back, which makes the trees in the front jump out even more. This creates even more depth.

A dinner scene

Outdoor smart lighting garden dinner setting

We’ll mostly be sitting at the dinner table in the front of the garden. There’s some light added to illuminate the table, so by highlighting the trees (7) and fence (8) in the front with spot lights, you’ll have plenty of light for a comfortable dinner: three spots shine on the left tree,  four spots highlight the middle tree and two illuminate the right tree. The other lights are used to accentuate certain aspects of the garden, like the two trees in the back and the support beam of the pergola. We’ve used a warm white colour setting to make the scene really comfortable. If you want to make the scene even more cosy, dim the lights and tune them warmer.

When lighting your garden, think about the different perspectives. When accentuating a tree from below for example, make sure the light is visible from all areas where you’ll be sitting.

The smooth Lounge setting

Outdoor smart lighting garden lounge settingThis scene was created with a loungey feel in mind. We’ll be sitting in the back of our garden, meeting with a friend and enjoying a quiet chat. Essentially this is a reverse of the dinner scene; we’ve highlighted the sitting area in the back, while dimming the terrace to keep the right balance.

The colours were inspired by sunset, focussing on warm orange yellow and red tints for an relaxed and cosy feeling. Do you prefer to read a book in the evening while sitting in the lounge set? Just brighten the lights and adjust the colour in the pergola the way you love it.

You don’t have to keep using one setting for the entire evening. If two people want to further their metaphysical discussion about hotdogs being sandwiches or not without bothering the rest of the guests, simply point them towards the back and turn on the lights there.

Party time!

Outdoor smart lighting garden party setting

Although right now might not be the best time to throw a garden party, it can never hurt to prepare for the future! In this scene we’ve focussed on a party with a little more emphasis on colour. You’ll notice we’ve only used a select palette instead of combining all of the 16 million available colours into a rainbow disco ball explosion. Why? Well obviously, it’s fun to experiment, but when you’re throwing a party, it’s usually about the people, and although you want a fun setting, it shouldn’t be distracting. Try finding a main theme colour and choose matching supplementing colours. We’ve chosen purple as our main theme colour and used reds and pinks to accompany it.

Even if it is too cold to sit in the garden, you can still enjoy it.

Enjoying the view – couch mode

Lastly we’ve created a setting that doesn’t involve us sitting in the garden. Instead, we’re sitting inside the house looking outside. Now, without any lighting, that would look like this:

Not exactly the look we’re going for. We’ve got an amazing garden, and we want to be able to see it! That’s why we’ve lit it like this:

Outdoor smart lighting garden cool light

By using white light, we accentuate the natural colours of the garden. We’re trying to bring a bit of nature inside the house, to let you enjoy the beautifully lit garden in the evening or by night. In the back we’ve used some subtle lilac to play with a little colour in this scene and spice it up a little. To keep the right balance, some of the lights are dimmed or switched off. However, we have ensured that there is sufficient general lighting to make sure there are no intruders in your garden, or you won’t get spooked by anything unexpected.

Now to apply it to your own garden

As you’ve probably guessed, the possibilities are endless. We’ve set up our model garden with 4 scenarios in mind. Your garden might look completely different and you might spend your time outside in your own unique way, so here are the key takeaways from this article:

  1. Start with general lighting. Provide sufficient light on the paths so that you can move around the garden comfortably and safely.
  2. Think about what you’ll be doing in your garden so you can make sure those areas have enough lights for those specific tasks.
  3. Accentuate your favourite parts of the garden.
  4. Set up scenes for different occasions, making sure the area of interest is properly lit.
  5. Play around with light, colour and shadow to create depth and to spice things up.
  6. Have fun, and enjoy your properly lit garden all year long.

Want to get started with your own garden setup? We’ve highlighted the products you need below. Time to get smarter!

Judith van Meegen - Light Designer

Judith

Light Designer