The latest technology means that there is a new generation of sophisticated low-energy outdoor lighting which adds impact to gardens and patios, and is relatively cheap to run. It can even be controlled at the touch of an iPhone.
Meanwhile, solar-powered solutions, old-fashioned candles and hurricane lamps remain both affordable and maintenance-free.
The low-cost LED
According to David Haslehurst at Moonlight Design, specialising in outdoor lighting design and supplies, the growing trend is for LEDs as they are cheap to run and low-maintenance.
One or two uplights in shrubbery can transform a small garden, while most old light bulbs can be changed over to low-cost LED versions. Haslehurst says colour-changing LED rope lighting is popular. Called RGB, this can create thousands of colour combinations in an instant. It costs £65 a metre plus controls and installation, but even a couple of metres under decking or along stairs will make a huge impact.
Another sophisticated new product is The Light Symphony, a remote-control garden lighting system operated from your iPhone; it costs from £160. Moonlight Design sells it all and will advise and install an entire design. Call 020 8925 8639, or visit moonlightdesign.co.uk.
An eco-friendly glow
New from John Cullen are eco-friendly and energy-efficient Kew (left) and Hampton garden lights (£155/£159 each), which use 1w warm white LEDS. They are compact and come in a green casing to disguise them in the shrubbery. Their special lenses means no more burn marks on leaves.
Hampton can be angled to highlight trees, paths or a feature. This company sells spotlights and strip lighting by the metre and will design lighting schemes and advise on garden lighting. Call 020 7371 9000, go to johncullenlighting.co.uk, or visit the showroom at 561-563 King's Road, SW6.
Solar so good
For affordable solar lighting, Littlewoods has scroll-pattern frosted glass solar lamps to illuminate a table (now reduced to £30 a pair from £35), while strings of star-shaped solar-charged fairy lights (£26 for a 50-light string) give up to six hours of light.
Solar-charging panels are supplied. These are good for lighting up dark corners or the underside of your parasol. Call 0844 822 2321, or visit littlewoods.com. Amazon.co.uk also sells outdoor lighting, from coloured solar-powered LED lights to citronella candles.
A romantic moment
For romantic, soft focus-style garden lighting, Cox & Cox has fairy lights, candles and new rusted chandeliers with coloured glass tealight holders (£35). Its fire-retardant paper bag lanterns with cut-out star patterns look lovely with tealights inside, along a path or down the stairs (£9 for a pack of 10), while its glass lantern (£45) is simplicity itself. Packs of colourful Chinese paper lanterns (£8 for 12) add splashes of bright colour. Call 0844 858 0744, or visit coxandcox.co.uk.
The old bamboo
Silver and gold torch candles (£7.50) on long metal sticks have a burning time of up to 12 hours each and are just two of several colours in Graham & Green's range of outdoor candles.
G&G also sells black bamboo Shanghai lanterns (from £20) and outdoor bamboo lanterns, which have glass covers to stop candles or tealights blowing out and come on long bamboo poles (£8.50 small/£14.50 large).
Visit grahamandgreen.co.uk, or call 0845 130 6622. For more hurricane lamps try Cath Kidston, who has hand-painted red hurricane lamps on sale at £8 down from £16. Visit cathkidston.co.uk.