- Mirrors In A Garden: Tips On The Use Of Mirrors In Garden Design
- Mirrors for Garden Use
- Garden Mirrors and Birds
- Use of Mirrors in Garden Design
- Ideas for Using Mirrors in your garden
- Weather-Proofing Your Garden Mirror
- Attaching Concerns
- Plastic and Other Mirror Alternatives
- **Warning: Birds + Garden Mirrors**
- How to Use Reflected Light to Boost Indoor Food Production
- Recommended Reads
- Using Mirrors in the Garden: Measuring Light Reflection
- 1. Antique Mirror
- 2. White Mirror
- 3. Mirrors On A Fence
- 4. Window Pane Mirror
- 5. Ornate Mirror
- 6. Colored Mirror Ball
- 7. Mirror In A Hedge
- 8. Mosaic Mirror Fence
- 9. Eclectic Mirror Fence
- 10. Dresser With Vanity Mirror
- 11. Bistro Table
- 12. Mirror With Sculpture
- 13. DIY Mirror Ball
- 14. Mirrored Shed
- 15. Mirrored Fence
- 16. Mirror With Water Feature
- 17. Arched Mirror
- 18. Garden Mantel
- How to Make an Outdoor Mirror from a Window
- Garden mirrors – the dos and don’t
- Why hang a mirror in your garden?
- Create the illusion of extra space
- Use small round mirrors to achieve a window-like effect
- Make a small garden space special
- Choose complimentary colours to blend in
- Extend your interiors style to an outdoor space
- Video Of The Week
- How to make best use of outdoor mirrors
- What shape of outdoor mirror?
- A word of caution…
- What size outdoor mirror?
- Where should you hang your outdoor mirror?
- Garden Mirrors
- Free UK Delivery of your garden mirror
Mirrors In A Garden: Tips On The Use Of Mirrors In Garden Design
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.
Have you thought about using mirrors in your garden? This unexpected piece of home décor lends itself so well to an outdoor environment. In the home we use them functionally (like for checking your hair on the way out the door) as well as to enliven our spaces by reflecting light or creatively modifying the feel of a space. Outdoors we can do the same thing but there are some special considerations that allow you to get even more creative.
Ideas for Using Mirrors in your garden
- Mirrors can help give the illusion of extra space. I love when small garden owners are able to strategically place a mirror to trick the mind into thinking that there is more garden and more to see. Place mirrors on walls in the shape of a doorway or a window and the reflection will give the illusion that the garden continues to another area beyond. Consider even putting a gate in front of the mirror to highlight the illusion.
- Reflect the beauty of your plants and flowers. With a mirror, suddenly one flower looks like two (and if you get really clever with multiple mirrors, maybe it can even look like more). Magnify the impact of special elements by making them seem bigger with a mirror.
- Use a mirror to brighten up a dark corner. Mirrors reflect light and enliven everything around them. By reflecting light and warmth, you may even be able to alter the microclimate enough to allow you to grow less hardy plants or plants that need more sunlight.
- Mirrored surfaces on sculptural forms add movement and interest in an unexpected way. This type of sculpture doesn’t dominate stylistically like some other more traditional sculpture might. Instead it adds mystery by altering the obvious and making it a little more unexpected. I adore this mirrored monolith (bottom of post) at the Pettifers garden in Oxfordshire England – if this is too much for your garden consider something smaller – like a mirrored gazing ball.
- Play with mirrors to create illusion. Strategically placed mirrors can make a hedge look like it is longer, or can create new perspective line that alters the feeling of a space. Think about mirrored halls and fun houses and how you can use those tricks to make a statement in your garden
- Consider a mirror near a seating or dining area. When you are eating outdoors, often candles and warm lights are used around the table. A mirror will help to highlight this warmth and give a greater sense of enclosure.
- Not all mirrors are vertical. Water in the garden is a great natural mirror that reflects the sky and the landscape the surrounds it. Ponds are great for this, but even puddles can make a scene more interesting.
Weather-Proofing Your Garden Mirror
Using mirrors outside does create some practical issues. While there is no magic fix to protect a mirror that’s placed outdoors, there are a few things you can do to extend the life of an interior mirror that is used outside.
Glass mirrors have a silver backing that gives them their reflective quality. This backing is vulnerable to water. Obviously, placing a mirror outside is going to expose it to the elements. Over time, the silver backing will start to bubble or peel. How many years you will get from a mirror is hard to say – it will depend on your climate and the exposure of the piece. But if you protect it and take some precautions you can extend the life.
Modern mirroring is more durable than older mirroring. Personally, I don’t mind a “weathered” looking mirror – particularly in the garden but if you are concerned, you can seal the edges of the mirror to its frame by using a water-proof silicone caulk or a spray sealant. Run a bead of caulk wherever water might seep in between the frame and mirror or cover the whole back and sides with a spray. This is the best advice I have for extending the life of a glass mirror outdoors – it isn’t perfect, but it should help. Remember too that mirrors are not terribly expensive, and they are recyclable – so if the weathering starts to gets too much for your taste, changing it up for a new one isn’t a big cost.
Make sure that the mirror is securely attached to wherever you’re going to hang it. Assuming that you are using a mirror with a wooden frame, you can screw the corners of the frame directly to the surface where it will be mounted. Adhesives are also an option. If you have a mirror without a frame that has holes drilled in the corners (such as an old bathroom mirror), you can mount it using screws and preferably rubber washers. You can also hang it using NON-RUSTING wire attached to the back, with a securely placed hanger on the hanging surface. I don’t prefer this method though as anything that is outside is subject to the elements – and wind in particular can catch and pull something right off a wall. Mounting the mirror flush and firmly should be the goal.
I’ve never heard of this being a legit problem in the garden but I have seen mention of it a time or two, so I will discuss. Be careful that there will be no problem with the mirror’s reflection starting a fire. It sounds a bit impossible and it mostly is – but not completely. Mirrors can reflect and focus light intensely enough to ignite things – those bushcraft youtube guys do it all the time. Watch when and where the sun’s reflection is directed throughout the day to see where it lands and how hot it gets. The heat of the sun, reflected and magnified with a mirror, can catch leaves and pine needles on fire if the conditions are just right.
Plastic and Other Mirror Alternatives
Plastic is safer than glass and lighter in weight. If you want your mirror to retain its reflective qualities over many years, think about investing in a plastic one. Plastic mirror sheeting looks like glass and has some advantages. It is much more impact resistant and much less likely to cause injury if it breaks. There are two types available – acrylic and polycarbonate. Big-box DIY stores usually carry the acrylic type and you can also find suppliers for both acrylic and polycarbonate mirrors online.
Which is better acrylic or polycarbonate?
Acrylic Mirror mirrors are about 10 times stronger than glass and they are well suited for outdoor use. The drawback is that they are not as clear and reflective as glass mirrors. Also – the bigger the mirror, the more distortion (think fun house mirror) that you will have. If you want to avoid this, increase the thickness the mirror (but also increase the price).
The alternative to acrylic is polycarbonate mirror. Polycarbonate is about twice the price of acrylic mirror, but is 200 times stronger than glass and its reflective qualities are better. This is the best option for an exterior outdoor use mirror if you are looking for a long-term high-end option.
Another mirror finish material to consider is stainless steel. The reflection is similar to glass mirrors and while this is also an expensive option, it can be beautifully incorporated into sculpture and architecture in the garden.
**Warning: Birds + Garden Mirrors**
A Mirror Can Put Our Feathered Friends Into A Tizzy … Or Worse 🙁
Keep wildlife in mind when installing a garden mirror. Some birds will batter themselves to death against a mirror. They also might fly into it because they don’t realize it’s a barrier, or they might attack the “other bird” that is intruding on their territory. Depending on the location and placement of the mirror, this can be a problem and you should be aware of it and watch out for it. Here is a helpful video that talks about research being done to help create building materials that kill less birds. The key appears to be adding lines that are no more than 2 inches horizontally or 4 inches vertically. Keep an eye out for bird friendly glass and mirrors in the market and in the interim, consider adding a suspended mesh in front of the mirror to prevent accidents.
If you’re concerned about wildlife, the safest way to incorporate mirrors into the garden is to add still water. A pond is also a horizontal mirror that serves wildlife of all sorts.
Do you have questions about using mirrors outside? If so, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!
images- Leon Davis Design, Aldgate Home, courtesy of David Harber by Clive Nichols, Annie Spratt and Jørgen Håland
How to Use Reflected Light to Boost Indoor Food Production
Growing food indoors or in an urban setting can be quite a challenge. You need to find the right kinds of plants, purchase or build tools, and make sure you have lots of time and patience. Oh, and don’t forget making sure your garden gets enough light so it can thrive! If your space doesn’t have an ample amount of natural light, there’s still hope! Believe it or not it’s possible to grow your food without direct sunlight! You just have to figure out ways to adapt to the lack of light, whether it be from buildings creating shade or south-facing windows.
The following is an excerpt from Fresh Food from Small Spaces by R.J. Ruppenthal. It has been adapted for the web.
If there’s one urban commodity that’s almost as precious as land, it’s light. Most city yards have high fences, and surrounding buildings can block sunlight as well. If your only available space is a balcony, ledge, or windowsill, then you’re probably getting less than the 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day that is recommended for vegetable gardening. Fortunately, there are some tricks you can employ to help maximize the amount of light for your plants.
Basically, there are three main categories of sunlight for plants: full sun, partial sun, and full shade. Full sun is the 6 to 8 hours per day of direct light exposure that few of us get in cities. Partial sun is either direct sun for a shorter period, or dappled sunlight that may come through the leaves of an overhanging tree. (Reflected light might also fall in this category.) Full shade is a basically sunless condition in which vegetables will have a tough time growing. Fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers like plenty of light, although beans and peas can do with a lot less. Root vegetables such as carrots and radishes can be grown in partial sunlight. Leafy vegetables such as chard and spinach can grow steadily with very little light at all.
Onions are a little trickier because most varieties are day-length sensitive; that is, they need as many as 10 to 12 hours of sunlight to set and mature bulbs. One solution simply is to grow scallions (also known as green onions, spring onions, or bunching onions) instead, which are delicious and grow very quickly in short and long seasons. If you want onions to bulb up and mature, though, you will have to experiment with the right variety for your light situation.
There are a number of “short day” varieties available from nurseries and seed catalogs, and there are even a few “day-length neutral” varieties that have been developed. Your latitude also has an effect here. Check with your local extension agent or knowledgeable nursery advisor for help in selecting an appropriate type of onion.
This chapter will be useful for any gardener suffering from a light deficit. Using the strategies mentioned here, you may be able to solidly double or triple the amount of light energy your plants get, which can make the difference between a miserable and a bountiful urban harvest. But first, you need to know how much sunlight your garden area receives. Time this, and write down how many hours and minutes of direct sunlight it gets. Is this mostly morning light or afternoon light? Remember that the sun will be several degrees higher in the sky during the summer than in the winter.
Reflected light is a powerful concept that has enabled many urban gardens to succeed. Reflected light is indirect sunlight that is bounced off reflective or light-colored surfaces, and it can still bring a lot of energy to your plants. If you want to grow fruiting vegetables such as peppers or tomatoes, but your garden only gets 3 or 4 good hours of sunlight per day, then reflected light might make up the difference.
Gardening beneath a wall can be a great advantage. Walls that are painted white or a light color, particularly stucco walls, reflect a lot of light and heat. They also can shelter a plant from wind and cool nighttime temperatures, creating a very favorable microclimate for your plants. In the northern hemisphere, south-facing walls are the most effective for reflecting light and warmth. Walls that face either east or west will pick up some additional early or late light and will translate some of this into warmth. Windows also can reflect light and heat, especially if they face south.
You also can increase your available light by adding your own reflector. This could be a piece of sheet metal, a board painted white, or cardboard covered with aluminum foil. Situate it on the darker side of your plants or in a nearby sunny spot where the light can be reflected back onto your growing space. Be careful with mirrors, glass, or any material that intensely focuses light; these could burn your plants or create a fire danger.
Don’t forget artificial light either. Some people grow plants on a balcony or driveway that sits directly under a porch light. If this light source remains on for several hours, perhaps even all night, that extra light energy can generate a lot of additional growth from vegetable plants. Be sure that your light fixture uses compact fluorescent (CFL) lightbulbs. These are much more energy-efficient than regular incandescents, and plants can grow foliage using the type of light they produce.
This raises an additional question: Should you consider using your own artificial lighting? Although hydroponics and indoor greenhouse-style gardening definitely can succeed where the sun does not shine, they are energy-intensive pursuits. Most sustainable gardening advocates would frown on anything more artificial than a lighted grow box for transplants. I would also make an exception for electrical sprouting machines, which use very little energy to produce large amounts of fresh food. But, for all intents and purposes, gardening with artificial light is wasteful unless you have access to renewable energy sources or are using that same light to live by.
As the world’s energy supplies grow scarcer and more expensive, hydroponics and artificial growing methods are likely to play less of a role.
Must Have Tools for Successful Indoor Gardening
Get a Jump on the Planting Season: Build Your Own Cold Frame
Using Mirrors in the Garden: Measuring Light Reflection
- Two large, old mirrors
- Tape measure
- Light meter
- Notebook and pencil
- Create a hypothesis, your best guess about what is going to happen. Will adding a mirror increase the light levels in the garden? Will they stay the same?
- Now, head outside. Choose a location that is partially shady and would benefit from more light. For example, this might be under a deciduous tree that provides dappled shade with its leaves.
- Use your light meter to take a reading of the light in the area. Make sure that you hold it away from your body so that your body doesn’t cast a shadow over it.
- Measure out a 3’ x 3’ square and take several light meter readings 2 feet off the ground in the square. Add the readings together and divide by the number of readings you took to get the average.
- Now, install two mirrors facing each other in the area you’ve just measured with the light meter. Try your readings again. Take several readings 2 feet off the ground in the middle of the mirrors. Add the readings together and divide by the number of readings you took to get the average. Make sure you don’t cast a shadow over the light meter!
- Did the light levels change when you added a mirror? Why or why not?
Light levels in some locations will increase, but overall the light levels will remain about the same.
A mirror is a light recycler, which is what makes this experiment so tricky.When you add mirrors to a home or a garden, they reflect andrecycle the light that enters that space. If you add many mirrors, they can bounce the light off each other, and with each bounce, a little bit of light is lost.
If you measure a specific spot that’s very dark, then place a mirror near it so that it reflects light into that spot, then the place will get brighter. You have made that one space get light when it didn’t get light before.
However, mirrors don’t make a sunny day sunnier. A mirror can’t increase the amount of light coming in, but it can bounce it around once the light gets there. If you measure the light levels in your space, you’ll likely find that they’re about the same on average. If you measure the light in a particular location, you might find that it’s gotten a lot brighter if you’ve pointed the mirror’s reflection to that place.
You can use mirrors in the garden to move the light around, allowing plants to grow in areas where they could not grow before. Unfortunately, you can’t use mirrors to increase the total light that enters your garden—but wouldn’t it be nice if all we needed to do to have a sunny day were add a few mirrors to a garden?
This post was last updated on May 30, 2017
My little sprouts are still going strong, but I’ve noticed that the dill was starting to lean a bit towards the windows, stretching out for sun. So I decided to try the advice Katie left in a comment on the first post about starting our indoor herb garden and build some sun reflectors to help keep indoor plants strong.
Indoor plants (especially those which like a lot of sun) can get leggy, which means they grow long stems and few leaves because they are trying to reach out and grow towards the sun. One common way to prevent this is to rotate your plants every day or so in order to get the sun to hit all sides evenly.
Another way is to build a “reflector” so that the sun streaming in your window can bounce back and hit the plant from the back side as well. It’s super simple to do and you only need two things:
- tin foil
And maybe some tape 🙂
I broke down a cardboard box and kept two corner pieces. Then I wrapped one side of each piece in tin foil, shiny side out, and taped it to hold it down.
Because my interior window sills are so deep I wanted to reflect sun from the sides as well. I used the corners of the box which already had folds so that I could wrap the reflectors once they were in the sill. The great thing about cardboard is you can build it in any shape and size you want to fit your window sill (or wherever your plants are growing) perfectly!
I stuck them in the window behind the plants and folded them around the sides so that the back and sides were completely covered. Sunlight coming in the window now hits the plants from all sides at once as it bounces off the foil reflectors.
Yes, it’s in the window backwards…but when it was in the right way I couldn’t get a picture from
the outside because we live on the 2nd floor…
And it really seems to have helped! The plants really enjoy their little sun-tanning panels and after just one day the dill sprouts straightened themselves out and are growing vertically again. Yay!
It’s not the angle the picture was taken at, these poor babies really were growing slanted!
Look at ’em, straightened right out!
And besides the dill and basil which are doing great, we have some tiny baby chamomile sprouts starting up, and we have new catnip sprouts too! I guess there were still a few un-sprouted seeds left like I thought last week. 🙂
This post is part of a series about growing herbs indoors. You can see the rest of the posts in the series here.
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Owner & Blogger at Practically Functional Hi, I’m Jessi! Welcome to Practically Functional, a DIY and crafts blog for everyone! I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. Whether you’re looking for simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, or just practical organization solutions, you’ll find them here! Make sure to sign up for the email newsletter to get craft projects, Cricut tutorials, and cleaning tips in your inbox every week (for free!)
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If you have any mirrors that you’re not using any longer why not add them to your garden or backyard. These mirror ideas for your garden will surprise you.
Looking to expand a small garden space or patio? Trying to figure out a way to dress up a boring fence or shed wall without having to put in hours of work? Have you considered a mirror? No? We’re glad you are here!
Mirrors can be a great – and versatile – addition to a garden. They can help to create an illusion of space in a small garden or add a simple decoration. When well-placed, a mirror can create a secret window into another world or at least it can look like it does!
A mirror can brighten up a shaded corner with reflective light or enhance a visually stunning garden design. Think outside the box even and include mirrors in an unexpected way (we have some great examples!). Mirror balls are an easy way to incorporate a mirror into any garden design, but mirror fence – that’s unexpected!
We’ve gathered a collection of ideas to include mirrors in any garden space and we hope you find inspiration for your garden!
1. Antique Mirror
The aged look of this mirror is a great example of how to add character to your garden. A large mirror like this can help to showcase a plant or area and make the space appear larger. The rusted looking planters to either side of the mirror create a great balance of old and new against the lively green plants.
2. White Mirror
This white frame adds a touch of shabby chic to this garden space that complements the bench and floor lamp – seen reflected in the mirror. Including a large mirror and furniture in a cozy space like this can help to create a space that feels less like a garden and more like and extension of the house itself.
3. Mirrors On A Fence
Hanging large, thickly framed mirrors against a fence helps to give the illusion that space is larger than it really is. The latticework frames add a charming country touch to this patio area. Hanging them under a shaded area helps to balance the shadows cast on the fence.
4. Window Pane Mirror
Peeking out from behind climbing vines and bushes, this mirror looks more like a secret window into another section of the garden. This is a great idea for a whimsical fairy garden, creating a magical, mysterious corner in the garden. An old window pane can make a great outdoor mirror frame and can be found for relatively cheap prices at flea markets for a fun DIY project.
5. Ornate Mirror
Picking out a gorgeous ornate frame can be a great addition to your garden. Make it even more fun by painting it a bright, eye-catching color or even aging it a bit with an antique treatment. This particular blue stands out well against the red bricks and the bright green of the bush in front of it.
6. Colored Mirror Ball
Mirror balls are a simple and fun way to incorporate mirrors into your garden. They come in different colors and patterns and they don’t even have to be a true mirror ball like this one! Use a mosaic ball with mirrors or make your own and use small mirrors in the design.
7. Mirror In A Hedge
Placing a large mirror in the garden can be a way to cover an unsightly spot or, like in this case, creates a unique space that can reflect a highlight of the garden. Imagine this in the middle of a hedge maze, it would make a totally unique look in any garden!
8. Mosaic Mirror Fence
Broke a mirror? We hope not, that’s seven years bad luck! But if you did, or you find a broken mirror, use the shards to make a beautiful, light-reflecting mosaic on a fence or shed! This one looks like a stunning display of fireworks in the garden.
9. Eclectic Mirror Fence
Hanging an eclectic collection of mirrors on a fence or wall can be a good way to add visual interest and some fun to a boring space. Mix them in with other sculptures and wall hangings can create a cool visual that can be used throughout the garden.
10. Dresser With Vanity Mirror
Repurposing an old dresser can be an interesting and creative way to add to a garden. Keeping or adding a vanity mirror to the top is a fun addition. Bonus: look at the frames in the background! What a excellent and easy idea to dress up a space!
11. Bistro Table
Hanging a large mirror in a small, closed off patio space can be a great way to expand the space without much effort. This mirror makes this urban patio seem open and spacious instead of cluttered and tight.
12. Mirror With Sculpture
If you have a signature sculpture that you absolutely love why not showcase it? Putting a mirror behind it can help show off the sculpture from all angles with the added benefit of expanding the space.
13. DIY Mirror Ball
A classic silver mirror ball can be a sleek and simple addition to your garden. An easy DIY would be to paint a bowling ball or similar smooth, spherical object with chrome spray paint!
14. Mirrored Shed
Covering a shed with mirror pieces, or similarly shaped mirrors can be a cool addition to your garden. This one creates a crazy optical illusion that makes the shed seem to disappear. This could also be a great way to brighten up a dark backyard.
15. Mirrored Fence
Source: Alyson Shotz
This idea is stellar! If you want the added privacy and security of a fence, without the sight of a fence mirroring it may be the way to go! This makes the fence far less noticeable and shows off a gorgeous yard, garden, or landscape.
16. Mirror With Water Feature
In a classic cottage garden, including a mirror in the back of this water feature surrounded by mossy cobblestones gives this space a fantastical feel. Like you could be looking into another world! Surrounding it with draping ivy and other climbing plants gives it an added bit of mystery.
17. Arched Mirror
Repurposing an old window frame as a mirror can be a great way to find something that fits your style for cheap! This gorgeous, quiet little corner makes a great place to host afternoon tea or a small luncheon hidden back among the greenery.
18. Garden Mantel
Create a charming and unique garden space by repurposing an old fireplace mantle! This is a great way to showcase an area or take up otherwise empty space. Paint it, distress it, mosaic it – anything goes when adapting it to your particular garden style!
Popular Garden Ideas
Popular Garden Ideas
I have had a pile of old windows sitting in our basement for years just waiting for some inspiration. My Lowes Creative Ideas Blogger challenge this month was to create some type of diy outdoor art. I chose to use one of my old windows to create an outdoor mirror for our backyard. Today, I will show you how to make your own outdoor mirror!
How to Make an Outdoor Mirror from a Window
For this project you will need the following supplies:
- Old window (cleaned and pre-sanded if necessary)
- Paint respirator
- Krylon Looking Glass spray paint
- Zinsser Spray Primer
- Valspar Exotic Sea Spray Paint
- Frog tape
- Butcher paper
- 2 D-ring picture hangers
- 2 wood screws
- Drill and bits
Make sure your window is thoroughly cleaned and sanded before you begin. Old windows usually have lead paint so wear a paint respirator and take safety precautions when sanding and cleaning. Spray the Krylon Looking Glass spray paint on the opposite side of the glass that you want mirrored. It works best to apply very light coats allowing them to dry in between applications.
Once your mirrored finish is thoroughly dry, flip your window over, tape it off, prime it, and then spray in your choice of color. I used Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 primer and Valspar Exotic Sea spray paint.
I left my window overnight to thoroughly dry and begin to cure. In the morning, I attached D-ring picture hangers to the back of the window frame.
Here is a great tip for you which allows you to easily hang your frame. Take a piece of painter’s tape and place it between your two D-ring picture hangers and cut to length. Remove the piece of tape and place the tape where you want to hang your frame. You now know exactly where you need to drill in order to hang your frame.
Hang up your new outdoor mirror and enjoy! I love how it adds a pop of color to my boring fence and reflects my pretty flowers. Just like mirrors indoors, an outdoor mirror is a great way to expand a tiny space.
Here is a panned-out view so you can get a better feel of what it looks like in my yard. I’m not sure how well it will hold up to the elements since the wood isn’t pressure treated, but it was a free old window and the supplies are less than $20 to purchase if you don’t have them on hand.
You’ll have to let me know if you make your own! I’m thinking that for parties it will be fun to write a menu on the glass with a chalk pen or dry erase marker.
There are a bunch of us bloggers creating fun projects each month for Lowes. You can see more fun DIY ideas at Lowe’s Creative Ideas, follow Lowe’s on Instagram, Pinterest and sign up for the Creative Ideas magazine and app!
*Disclaimer: As a member of the Lowe’s Creative Ideas Creators and Influencers network, I received a Lowe’s gift card to complete this project. The tutorial images, instructions and opinions are my own. DIY results may vary.
We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
Garden mirrors are a great addition for any garden, with the power to transform the space. They’re especially useful in small courtyard gardens, on roof terraces and balconies to add an extra dimension.
A well-placed mirror can be transformative, adding a new dimension to gardens by increasing a sense of space and reflecting light into more shady spots.
As the trend for taking interior style outdoors continues to grow, garden mirrors are becoming more and more popular.
Looking for more garden ideas? Read: Brilliant budget garden ideas that will boost your outdoor space without breaking the bank!
Along with outdoor rugs and cushions, garden mirrors are one of the easiest ways to add character to an outdoor living area.
It’s important to think about where you place your mirror and what you want to achieve.
Garden mirrors – the dos and don’t
Image credit: Dunelm
- Do consider what will be reflecting – don’t place your mirror opposite a wall with drain pipes or air ducts.
- Do try to reflect the leafy interest in your garden
- Do use full length mirrors to create the illusion of a garden beyond
- Do consider using a hardy framed indoor mirror outdoors – often especially designed garden mirrors are made of plastic or polished metal and won’t achieve the right look (you don’t want your garden to look like a child’s soft play area!)
- Don’t place mirrors too high up or anywhere they are likely to impact bird flight
- Don’t use mirrors in hot countries ,where they are likely to become a fire hazard
Why hang a mirror in your garden?
Image credit: Cox & Cox
A garden mirror will reflect sunlight and if positioned cleverly, can make your garden feel bigger. Traditional outdoor mirrors can be heavy and must be secured to the wall with the correct fixings. Modern acrylic mirrors are lighter and come in a variety of styles.
An illusion mirror can create dramatic effects such as appearing to be a garden gate in a wall or hedge or a window. Whichever you choose to suit your tastes, an outdoor mirror is a transformative accessories.
Best of all this simple garden transformation needn’t be at great expense. You might have an existing mirror indoors that you can upcycle and give a new home outdoors. If doing this make sure you use the right paint or sealant to ensure your garden mirror looks the part and is weatherproof.
It’s easy to see why garden mirrors are gaining popularity. Here are a few more garden mirror ideas to get your creative juices flowing…
Create the illusion of extra space
Image credit: Andrea jones
Have you ever thought a small room was twice the size? Only to realise upon closer inspection that it is in fact an illusion, created by a well-placed mirror. When you can’t see the edges or a defined shape of a mirror it blends in seamlessly to a space.
In a garden space this works brilliantly to give depth to a flower bed and soften corners. It also helps to reflect light, ideal in a small shady corner of the garden.
Use small round mirrors to achieve a window-like effect
Image credit: Cox & Cox
Use mirrors to charmingly create a window-like portal into another world. Proving mirrors don’t have to be large to work wonders, this petite distressed mirror adds interest to an otherwise plain brick wall.
Buy now: Maroq Outdoor Mirror, £40, Cox & Cox
Make a small garden space special
Image credit: Lizzie Orme
A mirror placed against a wall at a low level can beautifully accentuate flowers perfectly. When you’d put the hard work in to get the plants looking their best, you’ll want to show them off to their full potential. A mirror can cleverly cover all angles, giving you more of an overall effect.
this is a clever way to make your planting efforts go a little further too. Perhaps you don’t have enough budget to go for extra plants? A strategically placed mirror can double the amount of plants – without having to double the garden budget.
Choose complimentary colours to blend in
Here, a charming French-style mirror with shutters adds a certain charm to an outdoor patio area. The green shade is the perfect colour for the mirror to blend in to the surrounded foliage.
Buy now: Verdi Outdoor Arch Mirror, £79, Cuckooland
Looking for garden ideas for small rooms? Read: Small garden ideas to make the most of a tiny space
Extend your interiors style to an outdoor space
Image credit: Cox & Cox
Replicate a living room by including traditional-style furniture in the garden. Add some wow factor to your garden walls with an outsized mirror. This generous garden mirror creates a very convincing illusion to a garden beyond.
Video Of The Week
If you have flora and fauna that is worth showing off, then double-up the effect with an oversized mirror.
To take this outdoor interiors trend one step further you could hang an arched overmantel mirror halfway up the wall to recreate the illusion of mantelpiece.
Want more garden ideas? Check out our dedicated garden channel for more inspiration
Will you be adding garden mirrors to your outdoor space this summer? We think it’s a winner!
We touched on outdoor mirrors in our recent Small garden furniture ideas post. It was the final point. I stated how outdoor mirrors are great for creating more space.
Which of course is true, however, I felt it was a little throw away, just added on at the end of the post. There is so much more to outdoor mirrors.
There’s many a do and don’t to incorporating them into your garden too. And just as they can transform a garden for the better, get it wrong, and they can make it look, well, a little off. And that’s me being polite.
Outdoor mirrors are a great way to create the illusion of more space, but they can also make things look too fussy, confuse the eye, and highlight things in your garden that you might not want to draw attention to.
Strategically placing a garden mirror will bring a new dimension to your garden, with the reflections creating a much greater sense of space and light.
However, put your outdoor mirror in the wrong place, and the only thing you could end up reflecting is a brick wall with drain pipes and that air vent for your extractor fan.
The key is to reflect the good. Trees, shrubs, plants, garden art, sculptures, water features etc. To add greater depth and visual interest. Use them like a window or doorway.
Parallax Illusion Oak Open Window Outdoor Garden Mirror
This is achieved to perfection in the image above. The Parallax mirror from The Interent Gardener looks to all intent and purposes like an open window to another part of the garden. Exactly as it should do.
Go to any good garden show this year and you’ll find many an outdoor mirror in many of the best show gardens. Top designers will often cleverly place garden mirrors in order to give their planting and designs even greater depth/interest.
I realised we hadn’t actually looked at outdoor mirrors in any great detail, so with this post hopefully I can rectify that. They can be a great feature, but it is very easy to get them wrong.
So here are some of our outdoor mirror do’s and don’ts. And as the title says, all the things you needed to know about outdoor mirrors but were afraid to ask. We don’t currently sell garden mirrors, so this is totally impartial post. Just sharing the benefit of the little wisdom we have.
How to make best use of outdoor mirrors
A well placed outdoor mirror is perfect for reflecting light into the more shaded corners of your garden or creating the illusion of more space.
However, there are a number of factors you need to take into account to get the best results, and ensure that the mirrors are positioned for maximum impact.
What shape of outdoor mirror?
I don’t want to tell you exactly what type of garden mirror you should use. You really need to analyse the space you have and how you want it to function. Is it more light or the illusion of more space?
Using a number of small round mirrors will help to create a window-like effect. They can be positioned to reflect light to parts of your garden that don’t see any direct sunlight.
A large full length mirror on the other-hand can be utilised to create that illusion of more space. Position at ground level and it will create the illusion of a doorway to another garden.
Larger rectangular shaped mirrors can also be mounted at eye level. Hang landscape and they’ll add greater width to a narrow plot or portrait will help to give your garden a little more height.
Test before you fix in place is the best advice I can give.
Think about what lighting effects the mirror will create at different times of the day. Or, if light is not an issues, use the mirror to simply add an artistic element to your garden just as you would inside your home.
A word of caution…
The key to getting the right size and shape of garden mirror is keeping it understated. Getting the mirror to look like it belongs, that enhances but blends into it’s surroundings.
And it’s important that you only use mirrors that are specifically designed for outdoor use too. They must be able to stand up to the elements, and in the UK that means everything from warm sun to below zero temps, and everything else in-between.
Many modern garden mirrors on the market are cut from a reflective acrylic, as it is safer, more cost effective and will stand up to the elements.
However, that’s not to say you have to go acrylic though. There’s also a wide variety of aluminium glass mirrors that are suitable for outdoor use.
Frost and heat proof, they come in a wide array of designs. And whilst a little more expensive, they do have a little more of a quality look to them in my opinion. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of the acrylic, but some of the modern styles do look good, and the quality is improving.
Another area of caution is wildlife. Don’t place outdoor mirrors where they could impact on bird flight.
And a final note of caution, never place them in parts of your garden that get direct sunlight for long periods. Whilst they’re unlikely to start a fire, they will create glare or you could crack them.
What size outdoor mirror?
The size of the mirror simply comes down to the effect you are trying to create. What do you want the outdoor mirror to do? Size depends on so many factors, that it’s really up to you what works and fits in your garden.
There’s a number of different effects you can achieve with an outdoor mirror, and that is what will inform the right size.
If you want to create a small window-like portal, then go for a window sized mirror such as the Parallax pictured above. If you want to create the look of door you can walk through, then you need a full length mirror.
Check measurements carefully before you buy and make sure the mirror you want will fit. You don’t want it to dominate the space, but at the same time, you don’t want it to get lost.
Strike a balance. Use other features in your garden as reference point, and choose a mirror that works with your overall scheme.
There’s no absolutes in garden design, you could even say rules are there to be broken. It’s what works for you and your outdoor space that’s key here.
However, a basic rule of thumb if you want to use the mirror like a window/picture frame on a wall or fence is to leave at least 30cm above and below your mirror. For a full length, just 30 cm above.
Any less and the mirror can look a little too big. But as I say that’s just a guide, only you can determine what’s best for the space you have. What scale works.
Where should you hang your outdoor mirror?
When it comes to the where you place your mirror, again it is much like size.
The items surrounding the mirror will ultimately dictate how successful an illusion you create. Just having an outdoor mirror on its own with nothing around it will not work.
Placing a garden mirror correctly is a little more tricky than you might think too. There’s a little trial and error, so the key here is to try before you fix. You have to be careful with what the mirror reflects back from key vantage points in your garden. Difficult to know until it’s in place.
As we mentioned at the start of the article, you don’t want to be sat on your patio looking at a mirror that’s reflecting drain pipes and the extractor vent.
For me, outdoor mirrors work best when there’s lots of interesting planting around them. It’s back to the mirror being understated. You want them to merge into the background, create illusion, look like they belong.
If the view reflected back in your mirror isn’t exactly as you want it, then cheat. Fix a wooden batten behind one side of the mirror, angle it slightly,, improve what’s reflected back.
In fact, slightly angling the mirror is good thing regardless. It further creates illusions. As you walk towards it your reflection is not the first thing you see. You create more of a sense of mystery.
Scale is the key factor when it comes to any form of garden art, be it a mirror, planter or statue. Measure where you want to hang it.
If you’re hanging it above a flower bed/border, then I always think you shouldn’t take up more than three-quarters of the bed/border. This will give the right amount of presence without dominating the garden.
And a group of two or three smaller mirrors will often work better than one large mirror. Much the same as it would inside the home.
Both options work well but produce different results. The longer or larger your mirror, the greater the impact it will have on the space. That might be what you’re trying to achieve, however, I always feel subtle is best.
I did promise this article would be everything you wanted to know about outdoor mirrors but were afraid to ask. And I think I’ve covered most of the do’s and don’ts.
That said, we’ve not really looked at the different types of mirror with the exception of the Parallax. From mirrored garden features to illusion mirrors, there is a great variety to choose from too.
However, to do them justice I think I will follow this post up with some of our favourites next month. So please be sure to check back!
All you need to know about outdoor mirrors was last modified: June 6th, 2018 by Lazy Susan
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Use the power of illusion – choosing the right garden mirror
Mirror Outlet’s garden mirrors can add an extra dimension to your outside space. Break up the monotony of a large garden wall, or create an eye-catching feature in your outdoor dining area. Reviewers love our wonderfully evocative Somerley Chapel Arch mirrors, available in regular and large sizes.
Add enchantment to a seating area or cosy nook at an incredible price with the Dorset shabby chic garden accent mirror.
Acrylic or glass for an outdoor mirror?
Acrylic mirrors offer you a combination of lightweight ease of installation and durability. They are made from a strong plastic that can withstand mishaps in the garden without shattering and are usually around half the weight of a similar-sized mirror in glass.
Glass mirrors are more resistant to scratches than acrylic and will retain clarity of reflection for much longer. They should be polished regularly to retain their brilliance but those seeking a distressed appearance can leave the elements to do their work for a more ‘lived-in’ look.
Helping you find the perfect mirror
Still looking for a piece with the right dimensions for your space? Then browse our range of large mirrors.
And don’t forget to take a look at the Mirror Outlet clearance section; you might just find your perfect match!
If you have a question for us or want to find out more about the full range of mirrors we have available, call us today on 01908 22 33 88.