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I want to make special mention of courtyard lighting. This is because, if they have been developed into a garden at all, they are often used as sitting and eating areas and are, therefore, particularly deserving of well-planned lighting. A small town courtyard garden is no different from any other form of garden.

All the opportunities you might find in a large, extensive garden will exist or can be created. It is often a case of just reducing the scale. The effects you can produce will be no less interesting for being on a more intimate scale.

One of the aspects that defines a courtyard and that is, in fact, often the only difference between a courtyard and another form of garden, is the surrounding walls. They may exclude much sunlight during the day and, consequently, be regarded as a disadvantage, but they can be a distinct asset at night.

Walls will often have interesting surface textures and colors, particularly older brickwork, which will be picked up well by grazing the surface with obliquely placed spotlights or ground-level wall- washers. Even if your walls have a trellis fitted to them, which is covered with mature climbers, grazing light adds drama to the space and provides a level of ambient light that would also be useful for orientation purposes.

This effect works well on reasonably tall walls, with enough surface area to allow patterns of light and shade.

It may be less appropriate on low walls unless the light source is focused on shining along the wall as opposed to up it. You could take advantage of adjacent planting to create shadow patterns, thereby enlivening even a smooth surface.

Another aspect of courtyards, as distinct from more open gardens, is that they are likely to be completely paved, with most of the planting being in raised beds or pots. These provide good subjects for lighting in themselves as they often have highly patterned and textured surfaces.

A minor disadvantage with light in courtyards and, indeed, small gardens in general, is that, although it is possible to find all the light fittings you may need and to the appropriate scale, there are fewer manufacturers making them. There is, therefore, less choice. You may have to do a fair amount of hunting to find the fittings to suit your needs. Please don’t give up they do exist.

George Gitau

Meet George, an advocate for traditional craftsmanship. I will provide you with educational content, techniques and ideas for your next garden and home improvement project. Together, let's create beautiful spaces that are not only beautiful but also functional

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