Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gnomes & Garden Lighting

The majority of the work in our new gardens has been the removal of an over planting of shrubs and other plants. Most of these have been under large shade trees. Some like an overgrowth of low growing evergreens were removed not only to enlarge the usable greenspace but for mosquito control. Others like English Ivy and Trumpet Vine growing on the brick of the house were trimmed back and removed from the brick to prevent damage. The only additions to the gardens so far has been lighting. The original and still existing lighting includes a large mercury post light over the driveway, a three lamp post light near the start of the backyard, spotlights on the garage and sunporch overlooking the backyard, covered patio lighting and enclosed entrance lights at the entrances. While all these serve a purpose and will be used from time to time we find that type of lighting too harsh and high energy consumers. The ideal solution I decided would be solar lighting.

Gnorbet and Gnorman are the first gnomes to the gardens. Each stands under a larger solar bright white lamp on each side of the dock entrance. They are the welcoming gnomes for other gnomes arriving by boat while guarding against trolls who may try to do the same thing. Their cheery smiles welcome human visitors to enjoy the beauty of the water and gorgeous sunsets.

The gnomes are very much concerned with energy conservation. They love the new solar lighting highlighting the garden. It is a softer glow without the harshness and glare of the existing garden lighting. They can now go about their garden work during the night without being disturbed by bright lighting.

Solar Lighting

Solar lighting was the perfect solution for the looking I want for all the garden areas. Ontario has followed in the steps of Australia and ban incandescent light bulbs by 2012. Most of the existing outdoor lighting here is some type of incandescent light bulb. We will be replacing these bulbs as possible with CFL bulbs which means new fixtures in a few locations. I calculated the cost of each 15 W CFL bulb to be $1.32 at 8 hours per day for the entire year. In comparison, a 60 W incandescent bulb would cost $5.26 per year under similar conditions. Multiplying these figures by the number of bulbs in use shows that using CFLs make good economic sense. However, my viewpoint is that using no electricity where possible makes better sense.

I chose Home Brite Solar Super Bright White LED solar lights. These come in a 4 or 12 light pack with the 12 pack being slightly cheaper. Each pack was $39.99 with an additional $5 instant rebate when purchased before June 17, 2007. I bought three packs of 12 before the move to take advantage of the rebates for a total cost of $104.97 along with two gnome standards ($29.95), three copper solar lights ($14.98), a hummingbird solar hanging lantern ($9.99), 2 solar rocks ($9.98) and a dancing 5 flower solar light ($9.99) for a total cost of $179.86. Now this sounds expensive but consider that using the existing outdoor lighting would cost $47.40 per year the payback taking only operational costs would be 3.79 years. However, if you factor in the solar lights can be installed without further costs in areas that would be harder to access by conventional means, they will be on for longer periods than the eight hours as the days get longer and there are no bulbs to change, the payback period is likely closer to 2.5 years. Calculating the lifespan of each solar light at 100,000 hours and on for 8 hours per day works out to 34.25 years so overall, solar simply makes good sense.

The solar lights are very easy to install in any location where the solar panel receives eight hours of direct light daily. At first I thought this would be difficult in some areas but by watching the pattern of the sun through the day, I found meeting this criteria to not be a problem. The first area I chose to install the solar lights was the area between the house and garage. A large garden curves from the garage (right), in front of the porch (not shown), ending at the sidewalk leading to the backyard. Lighting the garden in this area would have involved installing fixtures and running wiring. I started at one end of the garden with a solar light then paced it of with about four of my foot steps and placed another continuing in this manner until the entire garden area including in front of the porch was laid out. Then I went back, tapped each spike into the ground, set the solar light and stake onto the spike, then removed the protective covering from the solar panel. The entire garden area took me about 20 minutes! I wanted a subtle glow on the front of the house so placed the solar rocks on each side of the front of the porch aimed on an angle towards the door. The overall effect is a nice, welcoming glow when entering from the laneway. More solar lights highlight a small garden in front of the kitchen window (lower level) near the stairs leading to the sunporch (upper level) and the patio (lower level).

The next area to be lit using the same method was along the cedar hedges hiding the breakwall on each side of the dock. Gnorbet and Gnoman provide lighting entering the dock while the dancing flowers sit on a table on the dock providing a bit of whimsy. The humming bird feeder has more of a yellow glow when lit. It found a spot near the bird feeders. The copper solar lights are still waiting for a home.

Other solar lighting projects I'm considering include: A solar operated, two spotlight, motion activated security light would be ideal and eliminate the need for conventional lighting in the garage/laneway area. This type of fixture would also be good for the stair area leading to the backyard. A solar powered multi light, one panel system would be great for the dock if we decide to light that area more. Some type of solar lighting would be nice for the garden area between the garage and road as well. A similar multi light, one panel system would also work for the upper level sunporch since the roof gets good sunlight exposure. All things considering, I will be looking for solar ideas as much as possible throughout the gardens.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome


  1. ahhhhh the sweet beginnings of a new gnome-ish kingdom! long live gnomes! may they ever prosper!

  2. Thanks Jayedee :) They are quite pleased at the prospect of a new empire!


Thanks so much for commenting. Your message will appear once approved.