These eco-friendly models contain solar panels (either on top or inside) that gather energy during the day and automatically turn the fixtures on as darkness falls.
What you need to know: Solar lights contain either nickel cadmium (NiCD) or nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries and can be left outside all year long. Bear in mind: Solar lights last about four hours at a time, so it’s possible that they will start to fade before your guests do. They come in a variety of options, from path lights to hanging lanterns. To maximize efficiency, place the lights in the sunniest location you can find for at least a few hours during the day. Be sure to clean the solar panels regularly with a barely damp cloth.
The Lights Pictured
Large flowerpot (left of bench): Doubles as an ice chest or, when topped with a piece of glass, a side table. Lighted resin planter, $148, backyardcity.com.
Hanging lanterns (in greenery): Last an impressive six hours; various shapes and colors. Moonlight weather-resistant nylon lanterns, $19 to $27, gardenbasket.com.
Mason jars (on ground): Made of light-diffusing frosted glass; watertight. For a similar product, $27, glowsource.com.