Mirrors can add wonderful interest and depth to a garden but they have to be placed thoughtfully to ensure they are safe for the birds.
Also, mirrors are suitable in shade gardens only, not in direct sunlight where the reflection could be very annoying or hazardous. If you have any doubts or concerns, do not use them.
For a creative DIY project, see How to Make an Optical Illusion Garden Mirror.
Place Them Parallel to Flight Paths
My old garden was long and narrow. Noticing that the birds would only fly the length of the garden, not side to side, I placed my mirrors on the side fences. The birds would not fly into them, instead travelling alongside them.
I loved the effect because the mirrors instantly made the space look more interesting, enabled me to see the garden from the kitchen window high above the garden, and, of course, doubled the plants.
Which Mirrors to Use
My favourite outdoor mirrors are actually mirrored shower doors. I get them used from the Habitat ReStore for about $10-$20 each. They are made to get wet and have good moisture protection on the back of the mirror. The frames are generally nice and strong and allow easy mounting on a fence.
Smaller wall mirrors in clusters look great too. Look for mirrors that seem sturdy, have a protective layer on the mirror back, and have some sort of frame that will enable you to hang it up.
To Mount the Mirror
I attach strips of wood to the fence which in turn support the weight of the mirror. Depending on your skills, you could either frame the entire mirror to the fence with wood, or simply add screws or metal place holders to keep the mirror in place.
I keep my mirrors on the fence year round. My oldest mirrors endured ten years of Canadian winters until I removed them because we were selling the property.
The first time I saw a mirror in a garden, it was covered in lattice and mounted in a dark, back corner. The effect was fantastic. The mirror reflected light into the dark corner and added an air of mystery. It looked like a door leading to another section of garden.
In Love with One’s Reflection
Sometimes birds will notice the mirrors and become enamoured with their own reflections. Some birds may spend an afternoon flirting with that magnificent creature in the mirror. Eventually they grow tired of the beauty (or get hungry) and move on. I do not know for certain if this could ever be harmful or truly confusing to a bird, but my hunch is that it is not. I don’t imagine it’s any different from a bird admiring itself in a window or pond reflection.
If you want to increase your perceived garden space instantly, add light, or mystique, mirrors can be a great addition. Plus, you can check if you have muck on your face when your neighbor calls you over to chat while you’re working in the garden.
Creative Project Tutorial