How can I reflect more light onto my outdoor garden?

Updated November 22, 2016

Providing added light to your garden is one way to brighten shady spots in your landscaping as well as supply a boost of light to plants that can benefit from more light than they are currently getting. While you can't change the amount of direct sun plants are getting, and should only place plants in areas where their light requirements will be met, you can reflect more light onto your outdoor garden with a few tricks to brighten things up.

Paint structures around the garden with a white or light coloured exterior paint. These structures can include fences, sheds, trellises, benches, and even small wagons if they are routinely parked next to your dark garden area.

Form the border of your garden bed with large white rocks or light coloured pavers, or place these items randomly throughout your plantings to reflect light upwards onto your plants. Setting the large rock or paver along the southern side of your plant will ensure sunlight hits it directly.

Mulch the garden bed area with white gravel or a tan bark or pine mulch.

Add white or light grey birdbaths, statues, fountains or other garden accessories to the garden to reflect light onto your plants. Hang outdoor mirrors along a shed wall or privacy fence to reflect sunlight onto the area.

Include plants in your landscaping that present light green or yellow foliage either along the entire leaf or on a portion of a variegated leaf to reflect light onto neighbouring plants. Common choices of pale plants include varieties of hosta, elephant ears, daylilies, pulmonaria, and many herbs.


Prune excess dead or diseased trees around your garden to allow more light into areas where reflecting strategies aren't possible. Be realistic and select plants according to the light that naturally occurs to create a thriving garden. If your garden is in total shade, then there is no amount of reflected light that will allow you to grow a plant that requires full sun.

Things You'll Need

  • White or light coloured paint
  • Rocks or pavers
  • White gravel or tan mulch
  • Birdbaths
  • Statues
  • Mirrors
  • Plants
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