Mirrors In A Garden: Tips On The Use Of Mirrors In Garden Design

garden mirror
Image by Lucy Fisher

By Bonnie L. Grant

If you suddenly find yourself in the possession of a large mirror, count yourself fortunate. Mirrors in a garden are not only decorative but can reflect the play of light and trick the eye to make small spaces seem larger. Mirrors for garden use are not a new thing and can be positioned to fool the viewer with a reflection that almost appears to be the scene through a window. Be cautious however, and place them with care to avoid confusing birds and causing them injury.

Mirrors for Garden Use

Gazing balls and ponds are reflective surfaces commonly found in the home landscape. They impart a contemplative area on which the eye can rest and take in the garden’s beauty. Use of mirrors in garden design provides much the same experience with the additional benefits of reflecting light to brighten darker areas of the landscape. You can use any form, from large ornately framed mirrors to small pieces mounted on a fence or a wall.


A large gazing mirror, such as that found on a vanity or over a mantel, allows for a greater echo of the garden space. Smaller chunks or individually framed pieces reflect light in a playful manner. Full length mirrors mounted on a fence open up a small space. True glass mirrors may be used or you can select an acrylic version which is safer in a garden with children and pets.

Whichever size or type you select, be sure it is positioned in an area where it will not cause visual hazards from sun reflection or laser in solar heat which can damage plants. Shady or dappled light areas benefit greatly from mirrors in a garden. Using mirrors for light will brighten any dark space while adding a whimsical touch.

Garden Mirrors and Birds

Birds are a common sight in the home landscape. They make use of seeds and plants, and are delightful to watch. For avid bird lovers, using garden mirrors is a bit of a no-no. This is because the birds are confused about what they see and take the view as an extension of the true environment. This may cause them to fly right into the mirror, often with serious damage or even death as the result.

The use of garden mirrors and birds in the same space has the potential to harm our feathered friends and must be thoughtfully positioned or have stickers placed on them to prevent any unwanted accidents. Pay close attention to where birds flock and fly, and avoid those spaces most used by wildfowl.

Use of Mirrors in Garden Design

The world is your oyster when it comes to using garden mirrors. There are no rules, but there are a few tips.

  • Dress up a brick wall or fence with a decorative mirror.
  • Set a mirror in a dark corner to create the illusion of a secret door and enhance light.
  • Angle the object when using mirrors for light in dark spaces so that the light reflects just enough to brighten the area but won’t be too intense for shade plants.
  • Frame a special space with the reflection from a mirror to draw attention to a fabulous plant or container.
  • Make sure you affix the mirror securely and that it has a water resistant backing.
  • Paint can enhance framed mirrors and compliment patio décor or the flowers around the garden. Distressed frames turn a mirror into a unique country accent.

Have fun with the project and placement as you repurpose an old item and give it and the garden new life.

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