How to Use Tromp L’oeil In Your Garden

Tromp L'oeil with Mirrors

Have you ever thought about using a tromp l’oeil in your garden? This technique isn’t used very often these days. It is an interesting technique which uses a two-dimensional piece of art, or a mirror, to deceive the brain into thinking that there is more beyond that point. It could be a painting of an archway leading to a scene which looks as though there is more of the garden in the distance – when in fact it is just a flat surface.

It isn’t an easy technique, and if it is done badly it can look very out of place. However, if you know some of the rules to follow it can add an interesting art piece to your garden. It will certainly be a talking point for visitors. If you can create an effective trompe l’oeil you will definitely be one of the few who can! However, you do need to be really sure that you know what you are taking on, as this is not a technique which everyone can pull off.

One of the simplest ways to achieve the effect is to use a mirror. To make this work you have to find some way of integrating the mirror into your surroundings. You can’t simply put a mirror at the bottom of the garden and think that the reflection back is going to work as a trompe l’oeil. It has to fit seamlessly into the landscape for the trick to work. You need to frame the mirror in some way to make it appear as a natural part of the garden.

You can do this by using either another structure, planting, or a combination of both. One idea is to use a trellis at the top and the sides and then put the planting around it. This softens the edges so that it fits into the design and begins to look less like a mirror. Usually it is better to set the mirror at a slight angle. This helps with the reflection of the light to make it look like a more natural and convincing feature.

For the sake of safety, it is a good idea to use an acrylic mirror and not a glass one. This is not just out of consideration for the humans in the garden, but also the animals. Pets and wild animals can be confused by the optical illusion. Birds can fly into it if it is a particularly well executed tromp l’oeil.

The more conventional tromp l’oeil design uses paintings. The possibilities are endless, but again, you have to make sure that you have a talented artist to create this effect for you, or it could end up looking very out of place. It is possible these days to purchase generic tromp l’oeil prints, so it makes it affordable for more people. However, you do need to be careful to ensure that the design works in your particular setting. Use plants and structures to integrate it into your garden.


Photo by muffinn