Mirrors are a wonderful addition to a garden. You simply need to know how to keep them safe. Once you know what to look for, there’s all sorts of creative options. I’ll show you what I do.
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Mirrors in the Garden
The first time I saw a mirror in a garden, it was tucked behind some lattice in a shady corner. The effect was brilliant. Not only did it bring more light to the otherwise very dark area, but it gave the illusion of more garden in the distance. It was quite mesmerizing.
If you want place mirrors in your garden, there’s a few basic safety tips to understand first.
Garden Mirror Safety Tips
1. Use mirrors that can withstand your weather conditions.
- I like to use mirrored trays (see them on Amazon here), like the lazy susan (rotating tray) shown in the image (below) with the chickadee.
- For larger mirrors, I use mirrored shower doors that I buy at places like Habitat for Humanity. They’re often just $10-20 each, and the water-resistant backing makes them very durable outside.
2. Make sure the mirrors will not cause any harm to birds or other wildlife.
- Understand the flight paths in your garden—which way the birds fly back and forth—and keep the mirrors away from these areas. For example, in my old garden, we had a very long, narrow side yard, with fence and the house on either side. The birds would fly back and forth from the front of the yard to the back, so I would never place a mirror at either end where they might mistake it for additional flying space. Instead, the mirrors were placed on the side fences with plants in front of them. This gave the illusion of much more garden space but never posed a danger to my beloved birds.
3. Never place the mirrors in direct sunlight.
- In extraordinarily rare situations, indoor mirrors have caused fires. While highly unlikely in the garden, you still don’t want them facing the sun. The main problem with mirrors reflecting direct, harsh sunlight is—it’s very unpleasant! No one wants to pain their eyes looking at that bright light. Instead, place mirrors away from the sun, and consider screening them with trellis or plants to soften the effect.
And, the obvious point is, if you have any doubt about their safety, don’t use them.
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Favourite Garden Mirrors
I’ll walk you through some of my favourite uses of mirrors in the garden.
This first one is a mirrored lazy-susan tray. Of all of the mirrors I’ve had, I think this round, rusty one is my fave. The chickadee agrees.
This next one is from our front porch. The mirrored window is not super weather-resistant so the covered porch seemed like a good location to keep it somewhat protected.
You might notice the metal window box is lined with burlap. I think many of us caught onto this trick a number of years ago as a cheaper alternative to coir liners, which are often hard to find in the right shape. I keep the burlap in place with bulldog clips place inconspicuously inside.
I often see these mirror-shutter combination units at the thrift stores. You could add protection with some outdoor polyurethane over the wood areas, or just let the weather do its thing. Nothing lasts forever (indoors or outdoors) but you may squeeze some more time out of things with this extra step.
Here’s some of my shower door mirrors on the fence in the back corner of the garden. They are quite heavy so you’ll need to create a support system for them. I use 2×2″ lumber and make little ledges for the bottom edges to rest on.
This next one is another shower door hanging on the fence in the side garden at our old house. The kitchen window was up and across from it so the mirror provided a great view of the garden which I would otherwise not be able to see.
I have an obsession with blue delphiniums and use blue glass bottles as stand-ins when the blooms are not in season. I get double the effect with the reflection in the mirror.
Another trick is to turn a mirror into a faux window by adding some grids (on the glass) to give the effect of separate panes, and shutters. The flower pot holder is a cute alternative to a stand window box. But watch out for the giant ants (or make some out of golf balls)!
Here’s my shed door with a mirror I used to create the illusion of a window. I added the mirrored candle holder on top. This provides a signal to the birds that it is not possible to fly through it.
Another fun use for a mirrored lazy susan is to create a porthole effect like I did here on our garden gate.
This project turns a plain mirror into an optical illusion, giving the impression of an open door or window.
You could also make this project in miniature, like this mini fairy garden door:
I hope this has given you ideas for your garden. So long as it’s safe, have fun with it!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
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