Cedar and Mirrors Make Small Garden Feel Larger

Fork Garden Design are experts at working on small gardens and transforming them into spaces that feel much larger. They recently finished a project in North London using a clever mix of materials including Western Red Cedar boards.


"Unloved and unused, this small garden on a quiet road in Highbury, North London, was totally transformed. What was once a poorly decked space, with cracked walls and filthy pebbles, is now a fantastic modern garden, full of colour and clean lines.

We removed a large rotten deck and worked with the slope by creating three distinct levels. The old crumbling raised bed was removed and replaced with a sandstone capped, zig-zag brick wall to retain the neighbouring garden whilst increasing the area of planting. Two bespoke cedar benches were constructed to fit the space, along with a cedar clad outdoor storage cupboard. The garden is paved with Indian sandstone to lighten the whole area, whilst colourful planting is reflected in a long wall mounted mirror with a cedar frame.

London gardens may be small, but this garden shows how even the tiniest of spaces can be transformed with some clever garden design."

Philip Woodburn, FORK Garden Design

Philip Woodburn knows a thing or two about how to make a small garden look bigger. He explains how this can be done using mirrors:

"I’ve taken on all manner of projects in the past, but this week I have two very different ones, oddly both are in the same part of London – Highbury. One is large and traditional whilst the other is a fraction of the size at only 5m x 5m at its widest point. So, this has got me thinking about what clever tricks I can use to make this small Highbury garden feel much bigger.

As much as I am a lover of outdoor sofas for their comfort and style, sometimes there just isn’t room to fit their bulkiness so I think in this case I’m going to have to try and save space by using some built in seating. I have one little issue with built in benches though….on their own they’re not very comfy. But luckily cushions can come to the rescue and, as with most things, advances in technology has led to a much wide range of materials being available for us garden designers to use.

So, a built in bench will SAVE some space, but how do we make the space FEEL larger than it really is? Mirrors. I have only used mirrors once before in a courtyard garden and it was for a different reason, but I think a couple of discreet mirrors in this particular garden could work really well and add a depth that is going to be hard to achieve otherwise.

There’s a few things to remember when using mirrors:

1) Position – If you live in a terraced house are have neighbouring houses that look over into your garden then it’s wise not to place a mirror facing back into your house or your neighbours may suddenly be able to see what you get up to when you’re indoors!

2) Sunshine – Although the idea of bouncing sunlight sounds nice, if your mirror is in direct sunlight then it may help focus light (and therefore heat) on to a particular plant or object causing the plant to burn or the object to discolour.

3) Mounting – Mirror is just glass and therefore, depending on the size, can be heavy and fragile. Make sure that whatever means you use to attach the mirror to the wall, fence etc. is suitable and strong enough to keep the mirror in place.

4) Place them somewhere that people won't accidentally walk into them.

Remember these few points and you’ll not go too far wrong!"