People sometimes use mirrors in their gardens to visually increase a sense of space and reflect light. They can be beautifully decorative too. One concern that many nature lovers have is that they can confuse birds. Another is that there may be a danger of starting a fire.
Ironically, there is probably more chance of a mirror causing a fire from inside the house rather than outside in the garden. But there are other factors that come into play too, including the shape of the glass. When curved, it’s more likely to start a fire if direct sunlight hits it.
Is it safe to put mirrors in the garden?
When we ask the question, are garden mirrors safe, most of us think of “mirrors glass”? But there are different types of mirrors and the type you use affects how safe they are to use outdoors.
Glass and acrylic materials are the most common. But even stainless steel can be used quite effectively to mirror garden environments.
The other element we use to mirror garden elements is, of course, water. But it’s not quite the same as conventional mirrors!
Glass garden mirrors
When we think of glass mirrors, most people are concerned that they might invite a fire if they use mirrors outdoors. After all, fire and rescue services report that house fires can be caused by mirrors and other glass objects.
It’s the result of the same principle used to make a fire with a magnifying glass. If the angle of the sun is right, and there’s a curve in the mirror, there may be a real danger.
At the same time, there’s probably more danger of glass mirrors being damaged by the elements when we leave them outside. The traditional silver backing of mirrors is vulnerable to water and it will start peeling over time.
But contemporary mirrors are more durable than they used to be. Apart from this, there’s a certain charm about a garden mirror that has a weathered look.
Acrylic garden mirrors
Acrylic mirrors are considered to be safer than glass outdoors. Not only are they lighter in weight, but they are also more robust and don’t break or shatter like glass.
On the downside, acrylic mirrors aren’t as reflective or as clear as glass mirrors. You’re also more likely to get distortion, though that won’t be such an issue in the garden.
You can overcome the distortion issue to some extent by buying thicker acrylic mirrors. But they will be more expensive.
Acrylic materials are very safe, and it is highly unlikely they will spontaneously catch alight.
Polycarbonate garden mirrors
Considerably more expensive than ordinary acrylic, polycarbonate is considerably stronger. Its reflective qualities are also a lot better.
Polycarbonate is also a good, safe option that will avoid the possibility of fires.
Stainless steel garden mirrors
Not very common, but worth looking at, stainless steel is amazingly reflective. Imaginatively used, it has a sculptural effect, but it’s very expensive.
How to properly position garden mirror
When we hang mirrors in our homes we generally position them so that we see ourselves. So, full-length mirrors are normally positioned close to the floor, otherwise, we won’t pick up our reflection from our feet upwards.
Mirrors used in bathrooms or bedrooms are commonly smaller and need to be positioned so that the people using them will see their full facial reflection. That means you have to take the height of occupants into account.
It’s not that different in the garden whether you want to use one mirror or create an elaborate mirror garden. You need to position garden mirrors so that they reflect exactly what you want them to reflect.
Generally, mirrors will work best in any garden if there are lots of plants growing around them. This will make them blend with the background while still reflecting growing images.
But it’s not only about reflection. Gardening experts will tell you that you can use mirrors to play with sunlight and make spaces seem larger.
Once you’ve decided on the best place for your garden mirror, you will need to attach it securely. This is especially important if the mirror is made of glass.
It’s also important to position your garden mirror so that direct sunlight isn’t likely to be intense. The likelihood of it starting a fire isn’t very high, but it’s best to be safe rather than sorry.
The fact is that mirrors can reflect and focus light, and sunlight heat can be incredibly strong.
What’s the best shape and size of a garden mirror?
The answer to this question is that it depends entirely on the effect you want to create. For example, if you want to create an illusion of space, you will need something fairly big.
A lovely way to do this is to position mirrored windows and doorway-shaped mirrors against a wall. This means that they will need to be large and in the shape of a window or door.
You can use an old window or door frame and fit a mirror. Otherwise, you can buy an arch-shaped mirror that looks like a door or mirror that is intended for use in a garden setting.
If you’re going to use a mirror to reflect sunlight and brighten up a dark corner, you can use a much smaller mirror. And the shape will probably depend on the space you have available.
Mirrors are, to a large extent, sculptural forms. So, it really doesn’t matter what shape you choose.
But it is important to hang the mirror correctly, at the right height. In any case, smaller mirrors should be hung above the ground, in the same way, you would hang mirrors indoors.
When you use mirrors as a landscaping tool in the garden, there are many things you will need to consider. Heat, sunlight, and the possibility of fire are just one combined element, but it isn’t major one. The likelihood of your mirror getting enough direct sunlight to start a fire is minimal.
More importantly, you need to position your mirror or mirrors so that they will add ambiance and character to your garden space. And if you decide to use household mirrors, be prepared for them to deteriorate outdoors.
Why not give it a try?