At the end of 2013 I was working with Spartacus Landscaping and Gardening on a large outdoor job at a converted barn out in the sticks towards Shakespeare's end of the county. Although completed mid-December, I've only just got around to getting some snaps off the digital camera - and it looks great!


Let's start the tour out front. Apologies for the focus, dusk comes early in December and I have no idea what setting my camera should be on. If I could take pictures for a living, I probably wouldn't be a sparkie. Anyhow, what you can see in this picture is the great work Spartacus did on the paving leading to the newly gravelled courtyard. At the end of the paving area are 15mm white LED marker lights flush mounted into the stone. The olive trees Spartacus have planted each have a string of 80 white LED IP rated outdoor light strings permanently fitted so they can be illuminated at any time of the year (and not just at Christmas). The marker lights and tree lights are individually switchable from within the house and don't have to be on at the same time. Also provided is outdoor power via an IP socket (just visible behind the left tree), handy for breaking out the pressure washer when cleaning the car!

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The marker lights are also present around the path edges at the rear of the property. The brief was that they must be small and not too bright. Out in the country, things get very dark and light pollution drawing complaints from neighbouring properties or lights being too bright as you looked upon them at night were a real concern. These 15mm LEDs had to be specially sourced and come well rated. None of your DIY store tat that will fall apart after the first winter here!

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Spartacus built a bespoke aluminium pond feature with cascade fountain. I fitted the underwater LED lighting and pump with concealed cabling, and again the water feature is switched from indoors separately to the garden lighting. Under the sleepers Spartacus installed, I have fitted white IP68 LED tape providing a great backlighting effect.

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More of those 15mm marker lights run up the sides of a new path towards the illuminated sunken patios at the rear. Again, the rear lighting is switched separately from the front lights and tree lights. All switches are located together within the house for convenience so the homeowner can simply select which elements of the whole installation should be on at any time without having to venture out into the cold or fiddle with plugtops or extension leads.

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And here are those patios. LED tape around the underside of the top lip provides a reflected light at ground level which will look great on summer nights. The homeowners have the option of switching the patio lights off separately from the marker lights so their garden isn't looking 'over illuminated' in the dark winter. Six CFL spike lights are also present in order to provide a soft glow to highlight some of the feature planting, and one of those can just about be seen pointing at the trees behind the far patio in the picture below.

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The LED tape has been custom cut and fitted to ensure it's the exact size, with each patio having its own 12V supply rated to drive the installed length. Electrical safety is especially important for outdoor electrics and features of the whole design include armoured feed cabling, RCD protection, IP rated enclosures/equipment and extra low voltage lighting.

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Some better pictures will no doubt appear on the Spartacus website if not there already, but if you have any grand plans for your outside spaces, it's worth thinking about how to integrate lighting, pumps and other electrical needs so that you can get something truly stunning for those three days of summer when it isn't raining and you've got all the neighbours coming over for a barbecue!