Tips to brighten dark areas in landscape design

Mirrors and other reflecting surfaces bring light and depth to the landscape just as they do with interior decorating. Use mirrors, small water features or reflective lawn ornaments in landscape design to brighten dark areas. Reflective pieces also bring attention to a sitting area, add whimsy and may be used as art. How and where you place mirrors in your landscape design is important. An improperly positioned mirror has the potential of temporarily blinding someone walking or driving past your home if the sunlight is just right. Reflective items in the landscape provide the most satisfaction when placed near seating areas or along walkways that flow through a garden or wooded area.

Types of mirrors

Framed glass mirrors of varying shapes and sizes are readily available in most discount stores. You can glue wood muntins (vertical and horizontal pieces) to create a mirror window if desired. Sea shells or plastic craft gems may also be used to segment the mirror.

Concave mirrors (curved inward) or convex mirrors (curved outward) offer contorted views much like the crazy mirrors you might see at a carnival. Concave mirrors make images appear larger while a reduced-size image displays in convex mirrors. Inexpensive unbreakable acrylic mirrors such as those used for camping, traveling or in the shower are small and come predrilled for hanging.

Types of small water features

What you use to hold water to create a reflective surface doesn't have to be expensive. A fountain or small pond, particularly if it has a waterfall to add a tranquil sound, isn't something that we all can afford. Instead, look to cost-effective alternatives. A bird bath, when filled with water, creates a small reflective surface. Consider using three bird baths grouped together at varying heights for an added wow factor.

Looking for something even cheaper? Create an indentation in the ground to hold a plastic trash can lid with the rim of the lid level to the ground. A dark blue or brown plastic trash can lid can create a water feature mimicking nature.

Other reflecting landscaping objects

Show your playful side and bring a disco ball outside. Gazing balls made of stainless steel are in keeping with a traditional landscape design or an English cottage garden. Gazing balls, also called landscape globes, are available in varying sizes and colors. The smaller globes may have an attached stake while larger globes are designed to rest on a stand though the globe may be placed directly on the ground. Plastic Christmas ornaments make suitable gazing balls.

Incorporating mirrors or reflective elements in landscape design

Look upon a mirror or reflective element like a bird bath or gazing ball in the landscape as an accent piece. As you walk through an ornamental garden, look for areas that can benefit from a touch of whimsy, like a gazing ball partially hidden by plants, waiting to be discovered. Place a small mirror on a table top beneath a lamp, flower arrangement or other centerpiece to reflect light upward. A large framed mirror may be attached to an open "wall" built to form the side of a pergola. On a porch, attach a mirror to the wall or stand the mirror on a table.

Use short strings to suspend acrylic mirrors or plastic Christmas ball ornaments from tree limbs, fence or railings. Keep the string short to reduce swaying of the ornament in the wind. Other options for using plastic Christmas ornaments: unwind several wire clothes hangers, push the wire into the opening of the ornament, apply glue to hold it in place to create a stake, and then place a grouping of ornaments in the ground in a non-foot traffic area. Always consider safety when placing mirrors or other shiny and potential breakable items in the landscape.