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10 best outdoor lights

Set the mood in your garden with some stylish and atmospheric illumination

Fixed lights can improve security while still adding style; low level markers or globes pick out areas of planting; string or festoon lights are proving increasingly popular ( iStock )

Enjoy your garden long after the sun’s gone down with some statement lighting. Whether you’re looking to create a feature, enhance different areas with something portable, or improve the lighting more generally, this is one area of home improvement with tons of choice.

In reality, you probably need to combine a few types of lighting to make the most of all the textures and opportunities your garden holds; the right lighting can make it quite a different space at night. 

Fixed lights are reliable and can improve security while still adding style. Low-level markers or globes pick out areas of planting. String or festoon lights are proving popular too, but require some pre-planning and depend on having an outdoor socket in a convenient location.

Nordlux Vejers outdoor wall lantern: £45, John Lewis

If you’re opting for a fixed outdoor light, you need to know it will last well through all weathers. Nordlux has a good range of contemporary lights that come with a five-year guarantee. The Vejers lantern has fins which disperse light downwards and out from the bulb with a gentle washing effect – good for placing beside doors or highlighting a particular area of your outdoor space. 

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Black outdoor caged light: £45, The Cotswold Company

This stylish outdoor light is a modern take on the marine light. On boats and yachts, glass shades are often protected within a metal cage for practicality. This one has a striking black finish, and a diffuse light from the sunburst ridges on the glass shade within. You’ll need an ES golf ball bulb (not included) and the help of an electrician to instal. A good alternative to ugly security lights.

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Lightware solar white ball light: £12.50, Homebase

Lighting your garden at low level picks out textures and colours from border foliage and flowers. This organic-style light is a simple white ball that works on solar power to give subtle illumination to your outdoor space once the sun has gone down. Installing it couldn’t be easier; just choose a place you want to highlight and settle it in among gravel or grass. 

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Menu Carrie LED table lamp: £110.46, Skandium

The attachable handle on this stylish lamp makes it easy to carry around the house, and outdoors too. It’s cordless and comes with a practical USB charger. Under the glass dome, an LED bulb produces as warm glow that’s perfect for a romantic dining table centrepiece. It comes in four colours: black, red, olive or white. It’s pricey but beautifully made, and versatile too. 

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Classic Festoon lights: £70, Garden Trading

Festoon lights are big this summer. They bring an instant hit of bohemian glamour to outdoor weddings, festivals and parties – but there’s no reason you can’t embrace the spirit in your garden too. Garden Trading’s set is 12.5m long and has a plug for using indoors or out. It comes with 20 bulbs that give soft ambient light thanks to the five copper wire LEDs inside each bulb.

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Mullbacka outdoor LED table lamp: £35, Ikea

The battery on this efficient LED table lamp will last more than a few long evenings entertaining outdoors, and it’s easy to plug in and recharge too. The lamp is protected against moisture for use outdoors, but it could equally be used indoors to bring a cosy glow to a corner of the room or at your bedside. There’s a pleasing contrast to the modern shade and basket-like base.  

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Argos Collection set of 6 solar marker lights: £9.99, Argos

Stake or marker lights are a cheap way to get your garden illuminated. Bear in mind that solar lights are only as good as the amount as sun they receive – these aren’t hugely powerful but are good enough for the price. This set of six has a shiny copper finish that makes a feature in the day too. They plug into the ground at the edges of your lawn, or in flowerbeds. 

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Highwayman large lantern: £42.49, Waitrose Garden

LEDs may have come a long way in providing warm light, but nothing beats the glow you get from a real candle. This large lantern has tall proportions and a frame with a brushed silver finish which draws attention in the day. It’s styled on the traditional coach light, without being an exact replica. There are small and medium versions too, with the option to create a group.

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South Hope small chain lantern: £150, The Worm That Turned

A pendant is a more unusual way to light an outdoor space, but can look dramatic. This hanging lamp has a mix of traditional and contemporary style. The heavy chain and brushed bronze frame have the robust look of a Victorian street lamp, while the smooth shape of the satin-etched opal glass within is an effective contrast. Use it in a porch, or over a terrace dining space. 

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Mew orange metal lantern: £12, Habitat

A good one for small gardens, the petite Mew lantern from Habitat brings a pop of colour as well as light to your garden. The outer is made of punched metal that gives a beautiful pattern from the candlelight within. There’s a removable glass inner to keep smaller candles protected. Use this lantern to pretty up a dining table, or hang on a stake for extra visibility. 

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Verdict: Outdoor lights

For a reliable source of outdoor light, it’s best to go with a fixed electrical solution like the Nordlux Vejers wall lantern. It provides a good level of illumination that’s still gentle enough to make a relaxed setting for outdoor dinners and parties. The five-year guarantee is good peace of mind that it’s well-made and tough enough to perform well outdoors. It’s not a bad price either.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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