There are a lot of ways that outdoor lighting can improve the look of your home and lawn at night, and there are even more styles of lights to get the job done. But I’m going to be honest – many of them are purely functional, meant to merely shed light without being seen, and if you install enough to make a noticeable difference in appearance or night time safety, you’re looking at laying a lot of wiring, and a pretty decent increase in your electric bill a-la a year round set of lavish Christmas lights. So what do you do if you’d like simpler, more whimsical lighting that will look good, day AND night, without the utility hike? Look into installing some solar statues and sculptures.
Now, these are no mere lawn flamingos, and neither are they humdrum typical outdoor lights. Instead, solar garden sculptures like this Solar Garden Snail have small, more or less discreet solar panels somewhere on their surface that charge all day long (even on a cloudy day) and turn the internal lights on at dusk and off at dawn. In this case, that means a glowing green snail to light your path or perk up your petunia bed every evening.
Designs vary significantly, but because both the panel and the light are built into the various statues, installation is significantly easier than even regular solar powered path liners, let alone electrical ones. To install something like this Garden Gnome, all you have to do is set it in your desired spot, and let the sun do the rest. By nightfall, he’ll be happy to guide your way with his totally eco-friendly lantern.
Depending on your particular statue (and specifically the size and power of the attached light), it will produce more or less light, but they’re all more than enough to add a little sparkle to your landscape, and most are sufficient to light a walkway. This Yellow Fairy works extremely well for the latter, as it is part of a series of similar solar statues that come in a variety of other colors and designs that can be alternated and arranged along a path.
Even better are whimsical color-changing lights attached to long stakes, like this Solar Butterfly, which not only make a lovely path border in the daytime, but look incredible at night. The light (like most of them) is programmed to come on at dusk, but rotates gradually through a series of dreamy, pale colors – which looks downright amazing when you have several of them in a long line.
This Color Changing Rabbit also, as the name implies, is constantly changing colors. It’s bright enough, though, that it can stay half-hidden in your shrubbery and still illuminate the area by night for up to ten hours. But whatever kind of whimsy you prefer, and for whatever area in your back yard, there’s probably a statue out there for you. From fantastical creatures to animal figures like this rabbit that (in the daylight at least!) look a little more realistic, there’s a huge variety of solar statues ready-made to populate your back yard.
Of course, solar garden lights aren’t strictly limited to the garden. These Magical Fish float in water (though you can place them on any other surface, too) and make a great nighttime pool companion, delightfully illuminating the water and the surrounding area, either in a single constant color, white light, or a flashing rainbow of colors. I especially like these because they’re a nice way to show off your pool, and keep it a little safer and more visible at night, without having to run your in-pool lights all night long.
If, for whatever reason, you aren’t particularly fond of solar panels or don’t like the idea of having to deal with their rechargeable batteries (though they last for quite some time!), you can get a similar, if much more subtle effect, from more traditional phosphorescent sculptures like this Glow In The Dark Dragonfly. They don’t stay lit as long or shine quite as brightly, but tend to be less expensive and available in larger numbers. If you do a lot of hosting outdoors – whether on your patio or around a fire pit – a few of these out in your garden will add a lovely, ethereal glow, like some lovely late summer fireflies.
Whatever your preference, remember that lighting your lawn and garden really can make a big difference in the appearance of your home at night, but that doesn’t mean it has to cost you an arm and a leg in start-up and installation – not to mention energy bills. Smart, eco-friendly garden decor like these solar powered and glow-in-the-dark statues and fixtures make the best of both worlds, lighting up your back yard without lightening up your wallet. But what do you think? Is combining statuary and solar lights brilliant or backwards? Would you have a fairy or butterfly lined walkway, or would you rather use them to turn your garden into a wonderland? Let me know in the comments!