Monday, May 12, 2008

Garden Benches - A Classic Accent for Your Outdoor Space

By Samuel Francis

Garden benches are one of the most fundamental forms of outdoor furniture - you can make one of your own with little more than two similarly sized and level objects and a sanded wooden board. Though the concept of a bench is rather simple, garden benches can be fashioned in ornate styles that represent baroque/rococo era or sleekly stylized to suit modern tastes. The appeal of garden benches, regardless of the style in which they are made, is their versatility in an outdoor space. Garden benches can be placed where other pieces of garden furniture rarely go - smack dab in the middle of a flower garden, up against the wall of house, directly beneath a tree, along side a sidewalk, etc.

Garden benches are the equivalent of a welcome sign that you can sit on. If you place a garden bench along side the sidewalk in front of your house, passers-by can use it as a place to rest before they continue on their morning stroll. When set beneath trees, garden benches welcome guests to sit and enjoy the shade if not but for a moment. When against a wall on the front porch, garden benches welcome people into a home. And when in the middle of a garden, garden benches invite people to take the time to sit and watch the garden grow. After all, there is no better place to watch a garden grow than from right in the middle of it.

But as you may already know, garden benches are much more than just places to sit. They are pieces of garden décor; in a manor of speaking, they are art. Whether being admired from afar or from within sitting-distance, you can be sure that your garden benches will be admired. It is wise to choose one that you yourself will enjoy viewing, just choose a painting to suit your sofa.
If you think that your garden or your yard is missing something, consider whether or not garden benches can fill that void - it is not always plants and flowers that a garden needs! Interestingly enough, it is often the furniture and décor that can make a garden feel completed. A garden bench might just be the perfect finishing touch for your garden.

And no matter what your tastes, if you look long enough, you are going to find some garden benches that match them. There are concrete garden benches, wooden ones, marble ones, metal ones, and more. There are ones with backs and ones with cushions, ones that double as storage devices, and ones that are curved and some that are straight. There truly is a great variety of garden benches that can be placed in your yard or on your patio.

Even if you choose to have very little outdoor furniture, a garden bench is still a piece that you should consider setting up in your yard. Remember: garden benches are so much more than seats; they are art!

About the Author: Samuel Francis is an avid furniture collector who specifically enjoys outdoor furniture. For more of his articles on garden furniture, please visit supplier of high quality Outdoor Furniture including Garden Benches Readmore »»

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting
By Robert Taylor

Landscape lighting is a rising trend for most home owners wanting to illuminate their homes at night time. Landscape lighting is better described as painting with light and is about beautifying all that is natural or man made in a landscaped setting around the home. It is no longer a luxury item for the average to up market neighborhood. Landscape lighting is most effective when used in limited, subtle ways. If designed correctly it can be an extension of your home decor and can extend the use of outdoor spaces to the home while providing safety, atmosphere and space definition. It can also be most effective is hiding unwanted features such as trash cans or compost bins. Lighting is used to bring trees and scrubs to life at night and extenuate features around your home that are not visible or obvious during the day time. If used correctly low level lighting can be used to illuminate pathways and stairs for safety and security. Lighting allows you to enjoy your garden and exterior amenities of your home even after the sun has set.


Landscape lighting is one of the best security systems you can install. Lighting can be used as a deterrent to residential crime. Correct proportions of landscape lighting surrounding your home, has been shown to minimize crimes by as much as fifty percent. Lighting has two great uses to aid in the security of your home. The lighting can intimidate possible intruders to avoid trespassing on to your property. Should this fail, the illuminated areas will also make it possible for you or your neighbor's to see any intruders as they trespass.


Typically low voltage lighting systems are used for landscape lighting around the home. The preferred light fittings used to create most lighting designs, are low voltage, weather resistant fixtures. The low voltage used reduces the risk of electrocution if live wiring or terminals are touched. Also if power supply transformers are used to reduce the voltage, then they also isolate the low voltage system from the mains voltage which increases safety.

Not just the Garden

Although lighting brings your garden and exterior amenities to life at night time, facade or feature lighting to the exterior of your home should also be considered. If the landscaping has been done correctly it should compliment the house properly during the day. Why not extend the landscape lighting to the exterior surfaces of the home as well.

Narrow beamed lighting that highlights sharp features and wide angled flood lighting to pick up flat surfaces are preferred. These two simple methods create pools of light and shadows that will transform a house that may be uninteresting during the day, and make it come to life at night.


Low voltage landscape lighting is easy to install even if you've never done any electrical installations before. The easiest are prewired lighting systems. These are low voltage light fittings that come completely prewired and ready to install, with weather proof transformers, sealed connectors and pre-installed lamps. All you need to do is place each light fitting that is connected to a string of wire, where you want it, connect the transformer to the mains voltage and turn it on. It's that simple. Separately wired low voltage light fittings and transformers should only be installed by persons that have the experience to do so. It is recommended that these installations should be carried out by a qualified electrician. Remember that during the installation it is desirable to include a timer or a daylight sensor so that the lighting is automatically switched off during daylight hours. Normally landscape lighting is added after the landscaping has been completed. With this in mind it would be a good idea to lay conduits or ducts into your garden. This would minimize any trench digging when it came time to run your low voltage wiring. Map out where you think you will want your light fittings and lay conduits or ducts to suit.


Once the layout of the landscape has been established, it is very important to plan the placement of your light fittings. Lighting can focus on aspects in your landscape which are special to you, such as garden art, a water feature, or an unusual planting. Create a point of interest by highlighting a particular tree, shrub, or architectural aspect of you landscape with a flood light placed at ground level and focused upward. Combinations of light and shadow can create dramatic effects in complete contrast to the daylight scene. Lighting around pools can create a nice mirroring effect off the water or create a tropical feel. Lighting can hide obvious landscape problems while accentuating positive features. Landscape lighting design is very similar to the design of the landscape itself. Most landscape architects will include a lighting scheme with their design.


Low voltage lighting is often a do-it-yourself project and there are many options to suit your budget. Landscape lighting is also more affordable than ever coming in dozens of styles at a wide range of prices. Although it is tempting to purchase the cheaper incandescent lighting systems, in the long run the compact fluorescent options are better. Incandescent lamps will last for between 750 to 1000 hours. Halogens will last for 3500 to 5000 hours. But fluorescent lamps will last for as much as 10,000 hours. Because low voltage fluorescent light fittings have a lower power consumption than incandescent or halogens this makes them more desirable. Fluorescent light fittings also last longer than any other light fitting because they do not get as hot.

Solar Lighting

An alternative to low voltage lighting are solar lights. Solar landscape lighting stores energy captured during the day and then when it becomes dark enough, the outside lighting switches on automatically and stay on all night until they run out of battery power. A very good point is that solar lighting dose not use any wiring or external power source Unfortunately the disadvantages of solar lighting is that they give out very low levels of lighting and this gets dimmer as the night goes on.

About the Author: Bob Taylor is a successful webmaster and publisher of If you would like to learn more about the subject of landscape lighting please visit
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