Barbara and Jack Thomas put a mirror on the wall of their Seattle garden, behind a shallow pool (above). The 4- by 8-foot mirror looks like an opening in the wall that frames a garden beyond, making the pool and patio appear twice as large as they really are. A stone lion's head, which seems to float above a potted plant, drips water into the pool. It was mounted through a hole in the mirror, drilled at a glass shop. Ivy obscures the mirror's edges, adding to the illusion.
A glacial "pool"
Water can turn a tiny garden from ordinary to interesting. Here's a way to bring the look of a small pool to a bed or border without disturbing existing roots: Build an illusory pool. In the alpine border pictured here, Sunset test garden coordinator Bud Stuckey used a mirror to create the look of a glacial lake. Among boulders and plants, he placed a 16-inch-square mirror. He masked the edges by adding a layer of smooth river rocks of varying sizes and colors to mimic a rocky beach. Low, mounding grasses such as blue fescue soften the look. The mirror reflects the sky and surrounding rocks and plants the way a mountain pool would, bouncing light throughout the space.