Can Garden Lights Affect Wildlife?

  • By: TheWalledNursery
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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Garden lights can affect wildlife. Bright outdoor lights can interrupt wildlife’s natural processes, and many insects and animals follow lights. Bright light can disorient them, causing harm. Artificial light also disrupts the migration patterns of animals. 

If you want to use garden lights, make sure you don’t run them throughout the entire night. It can be very confusing to the wildlife!

Garden lights affect wildlife explained
Garden lights affect wildlife

Instead, try setting your lights on a timer or turning them off when there’s no one outside. 

How Do Lights Impact Wildlife? 

Garden lights can impact wildlife in several ways since artificial lights confuse animals.

Some are drawn to it, while others fear it! Light can even affect wildlifes’ ability to navigate, breed, or interact with their environment. 

Many insects, such as moths, use light to figure out where they are.

Moths use the moon to navigate but can misinterpret artificial lights as the moon. They fly towards garden lights and stay there, becoming a target of predators- like bats!

Lights impact wildlife explanation
How do lights impact wildlife?

Plus, they can’t pollinate your garden in their confused state. 

Outdoor lights can also affect the circadian rhythm of many different animals. Birds can wake up and start singing before dawn.

Robins are the most impacted by garden lights. They might stay awake much longer in areas with bright outdoor lighting, putting them at risk. 

In Short – Outdoor lights can impact wildlife. You’ll need to ensure that you don’t use highly bright lights in your garden.

Dim lights have less of an impact! Plus, you can set your lights up on timers to make sure they turn off at a reasonable time. 

Do Garden Lights Affect Plants? 

Outdoor lighting can impact the growth of plants- even changing when they flower.

If you have a bright light over your plants throughout the night, it’s sure to affect them!

Instead, turn the lights off or lower them closer to the ground, so they don’t shine over the plants. 

Garden lights affect plants explained
Garden lights affect plants

Low-intensity lights, like most solar lights, won’t hurt your plants.

You can position them in your garden to provide light without disrupting their growing cycles.

When this happens, the plants won’t flower or produce crops at the correct times. 

Plants treat many types of light as though it was the sun. You don’t want them to receive too much light!

Plants also need periods of rest during the night. Otherwise, they’ll grow continuously while not having enough nutrients to support that growth. 

To Summarize – Outdoor lights can be just as bad for your plants as for the wildlife! You’ll need to take care when choosing and placing your garden lights because of this. 

How Can I Lessen the Impact of Garden Lights? 

Now that you know how garden lights can affect wildlife, you’ll need to know what you can do to minimize the impact.

You should start by making sure there are still dark places in your garden area at night. 

Garden lights impact
Lights impact wildlife

Then, think about what areas need to have light during the night. While lights in a garden look inviting, we don’t need to have them on throughout the night.

If you plan on going in your garden late at night, you can always turn them off when you go back inside. 

Overall, there are several steps you can take to lessen the impact of your garden lights on wildlife!

Here’s what you can do.

Keep the Lights Low 

First, make sure that the lights you use in your garden stay low to the ground.

You want the light to shine there to see where you’re walking. Plus, keeping them short helps avoid waking the birds in nearby trees. 

Your neighbors will also appreciate short lamps! They won’t shine in their windows. 

Next, make sure they have hoods that angle the light downwards.

By doing so, you reduce light pollution in the sky and are less likely to interrupt the habits of bats. 

Turn Off the Lights 

You’ll also want to make sure that you turn off the lights when you aren’t using them.

If no one is in the garden, they don’t have a reason to be on anyway. 

If you don’t want to remember to turn off the lights every evening, that’s okay!

There are plenty of solutions you can use:

  • Many gardeners use PIR motion sensors in their gardens. These lights will only turn on when you, or someone else, walks by. They’re also great for added security. 
  • You can also try lights that come with sensors or timers. These lamps turn off and on automatically, either when they sense a certain amount of light outside or when a set amount of time passes. 

By turning off the lights at a decent hour, you can significantly lessen their impact on local wildlife. 

Use Dimmer Lights 

You can also consider switching to dimmer lighting.

Low-intensity light looks fantastic in gardens! A dimmer glow won’t disturb wildlife as much either.  

Many solar lights make use of cheap, dim lighting.

They’ll usually turn off after a certain amount of time passes. Then, they charge back up during the day. 

Why Do Gardeners Use Outdoor Lights? 

Since most gardeners work during the day, they may not need to have lights in their garden.

However, there are still plenty of reasons people choose to add lights. 

Many gardeners enjoy the look of garden lighting. It makes their space look more welcoming and can draw attention to specific plants.

Set up Beautiful outdoor gardening lights
Beautiful outdoor gardening lights

It also makes it easier to see outside during the night and can make their area feel more secure. 

That Said – Having lights in a garden isn’t always necessary. If you don’t plan on gardening at night, you probably don’t need them.

You can still add them to enjoy relaxing in your garden space when it’s dark, but you’ll want to turn them off when you go inside. 

Overall, outdoor garden lights come with plenty of benefits for people- but not so much for the wildlife!

Always consider your local animals and insects when setting up your outdoor lights. Your garden will become an excellent habitat for pollinators if you do! 


Short Answer: Yes! Garden lights can affect wildlife.

If you want to use garden lights, make sure you don’t run them throughout the entire night. It can be very confusing to the wildlife!

Instead, try setting your lights on a timer or turning them off when there’s no one outside.

We recommend you switch to dimmer lighting. Low-intensity light looks fantastic in gardens! A dimmer glow won’t disturb wildlife as much either.

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