WELCOME to the first of our monthly DIY columns. It’s arrived in the nick of time - spring is finally here, Easter’s around the corner and thoughts naturally turn to sprucing up home and garden.

We’re here to help. Each month one of the Cooper & Westgate team of expert builders, electricians and plumbers will be on hand to offer ideas, guide you through simple projects and divulge some highly-prized tricks of the trade.

And if you have a home improvement problem, drop us a line to the email address below. There’s bound to be someone in our York team who will have the answer. Right, grab your screwdriver, spirit level and sandpaper and let’s get down to some DIY.

Tomorrow sees the start of British Summer Time. Lighter and warmer evenings give everyone more chance to enjoy the garden. And these days you can stay outside even after the sun goes down, thanks to the outdoor lighting revolution.

With a little planning, a night-time garden can be transformed into a magical oasis, glowing and sparkling till you’re ready for bed.

The key is to decide what illuminations you want, and where. Ask yourself these questions: 1. Is your light needed for security?

If so, you’re best going for a specialist outdoor floodlight, fixed onto an outside wall of your house and connected to the mains supply inside. These are very bright so choose one with a built-in motion sensor, adjustable so you’re not dazzled every time a pigeon flies past.

2. Do you want a no-wires, no-hassle solution?

The quickest and easiest way to add a little glow to your garden is via solar lamps. You can buy them as single lights or in packs. Position them anywhere in the garden and they automatically come on at dusk powered by stored energy from the sun.

3. Are you after something a little more ambitious?

In our cloudy climate solar lamps can give mixed results. If you want illuminations at the flick of a switch, you will need weatherproof, outdoor lights connected to your electricity supply by cable. These come in a variety of styles and sizes. Examples include: • recessed lights – perfect for around the edge of decking or a patio • spotlights – will illuminate a particular feature, like a bird table or statue • spike lights – can be positioned by pushing into the earth or on the lawn.

Remember you'll need to dig a trench at least 300mm deep to lay the cable, so it can’t be damaged by a lawnmower, for example. For most gardens 1.5mm thick steel-wire armoured cable is ideal.

Low voltage lights will require a transformer – many kits come with one included.

Bear in mind that exterior electrical fittings must now be installed by a Part P qualified electrician. It needn’t be expensive – a simple security light installation can cost from £50.

Cut costs by planning and preparing the groundworks yourself, then you'll make light work of illuminating your garden.

Tip of the month

When using any electrical equipment in the garden, plug them into a socket protected by an RCD (residual current device). Then if you accidentally slice a cable, the power is cut automatically and you are saved from a nasty shock.