Summer is here, which means we’re aiming to spend as much time outdoors as possible (weather permitting, of course).

Think lazy Sundays spent around the barbecue, followed by balmy nights sitting around drinking with friends.

If the rain holds off, all you really need is some decent lighting to keep the party going.

While the main requirement might be durability (thanks to that aforementioned wet and wild British summer), it doesn’t hurt if these lights are design-led too.

Garden lighting can transform an outdoor space, whether that’s a low-maintenance patio, a grander landscaped area or simply a tiny patch of grass.

For the best results, you’re going to want to combine a selection of lights: think festoon lights slung across the seating area, fairy lights draped over the trees and lanterns to act as lighting markers.

Make sure you check whether what you’re buying is solar-powered, battery-operated or requires a socket as not all gardens will have one. 

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Aldi solar lamp post: £19.99, Aldi

The perfect choice if you fancy adding a little Dickensian charm to your garden without breaking the bank. Aldi’s brilliantly affordable solar-powered lamp post slots together easily to stand at 170cm tall and comes with two different settings to let you tailor the brightness. Those variable settings matter – this lamp throws out more light than any of the others tested on this list, so it’s a good option for even the darkest garden paths. Don’t worry about it blowing over either when the wind picks up – the base can be screwed down to keep your guiding light in place.

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Seletti outdoor black monkey light: £270, Graham and Green

If your outdoor space has a distinct urban jungle vibe, this quirky monkey lamp makes the ideal addition. They’re not cheap, but these sturdy simians from Seletti are made out of a weighty resin to withstand whatever the forecast throws at you. While they come in a variety of poses, we think the standing one is a good option if you don’t want the hassle of mounting one. The catch? While the lamp and the cable are waterproof, the plug needs to be kept out of water’s way. But we feel that the fun-filled design more than makes up for the compromise.

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Lights4Fun firefly LED solar fairy lights: £10.99, Lights4Fun​

A twist on the classic fairy lights, this Mother Nature-inspired string features a mixture of dragonflies and bumblebees. Unlike the majority of its Christmas contemporaries that have to be plugged in, these low maintenance lights are solar-powered – you literally just have to unfold them and drape them delicately around low-hanging branches. Giving off a bright white glow, these are a great way to add a twinkle to your trees that still feel in keeping with the surroundings.

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Argos Home large battery-powered black metal lantern: £14.06 Argos

If it’s understated elegance you’re after, this battery-operated lantern from Argos is well-priced and well-designed. With simple, contemporary curves, it’s still practical by virtue of being weather-resistant and heavy enough to stay upright even when it gets breezy. We like the fact that it looks just as good during the day as it does at night, so pop it on your patio for 24-hour appeal.

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Homebase tiki solar lantern: £10 each, Homebase

Creating a warm flickering fire-like light, these solar-powered torches are great for adding atmosphere to an outdoor space when the sun goes down. Standing at 79cm, the black casing isn’t just more sophisticated than the usual bamboo fare either, it’s also far more weather resistant. Easy to assemble and even easier to pitch thanks to their stake base. We think they look good lining the edge of a garden path or dotted in among the flora in a flowerbed.

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Lights4Fun round rattan solar lantern: £9.99, Lights4Fun​

It’ll probably be smaller than what you expect when you unpack it, but this little lantern still makes an impact. Making an ideal addition to evenings when you’re dining alfresco, this solar-powered light flickers gently once the sun goes down, giving its surrounding a warm, golden glow. With a rattan-inspired look, it’s a design that does love company – we recommend dotting several of them around the garden furniture for best effect.

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FatBoy Thierry Le Swinger: £179, FatBoy​

Yes, it’s got an excellent name, but FatBoy’s Thierry Le Swinger lamp also has plenty more to recommend it. Available in red, taupe, grey and green, this lamp can last up to a whopping 42 hours making it the best option if you’re looking for light for longer. But we also really liked it’s versatility, as this lamp can either be hung to swing from a parasol spoke or stood up in some grass with its beech spoke. Admittedly it’s not cheap, but the clean, Scandi design is certainly appealing.

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Hurn & Hurn vintage Edison-style bulb string lights: £32, Hurn & Hurn​

This brand has a great selection of offbeat string lights, and these Edison-style bulbs are no exception. Offering a vintage take on the standard festoon light, this string of 20 bulbs gives out a warm mellow yellow light for a cosy vibe. Running five metres in total, they also have a handy timer function that lets you programme them to eight hours on, 16 hours off making them nice and easy to manage.

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Ikea Solvinden LED solar-powered table lamp: £18, Ikea

When it comes to interiors, there’s always a lot of talk about bringing the outside in, but this sweet little yellow striped lamp from Ikea does just the opposite. With a chain to switch it on and off with (just like the one in your living room), this LED lamp is both waterproof and without the faff of cables or plugs like its indoor equivalents. We especially liked the colourway, which channels that summer sunshine.

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Idyll Home Starburst outdoor stake light: £29.95, Not On The High Street

If you’re looking to add a little whimsy to create your own enchanted garden, these starbursts are just the ticket. Based on a thin stake that slides easily into the ground, each LED solar-powered light handily comes on automatically at dusk and goes off at dawn. When they do come on, the result is arguably the most ambient of all of the lights on this list. Again, there’s strength in numbers with these lights, so dot a few around the flowerbeds for full effect.

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The verdict: outdoor lights

For both reliability and an excellent price point, Aldi’s solar lamp post is an excellent option. But if you do have more money to spare, FatBoy’s Thierry LeSwinger is a great all-round garden light, especially if you don’t have a fixed place to put it.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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