Creating a colourful winter garden

Put the heat back into winter gardens using vibrant hues.

There is nothing like the onset of winter to get you thinking about colour in the garden. Despite the fact that plenty of colourful things are or will soon start blooming, rain stained walls, bedraggled containers and slimy timber furniture take the gloss off the winter garden.

One solution is to paint. I was tempted for a minute there to say “one quick and easy solution….”, but I have finally come to accept that this is not entirely true. Painting objects – whether they are walls, fences, pavers, pools, pots or outdoor furniture – gives your outdoor areas a lift like nothing else.

The real trick to painting is to be prepared, and that it can be very timeconsuming. It is a known fact among DIYers that paint, sandpaper, turps and paint brushes self-destruct in the shed when you’re not watching. If you go looking for them when you’re ready to spruce up the garden, and you’ll find something has taken the lids off the paint tins, gnawed the bristles off the brushes, drunk the turps and eaten the sandpaper.

If you’re about to embark on serious paint work, get off to the hardware shop and restock. These days, there are just as many paints as there are surfaces to apply them to. This means you need to have a deep and meaningful conversation with your paint retailer about what you’re going to paint, what was on it before, whether you need to get it off, and what you want it to look like at the end.

Listen to what he or she tells you and be obedient. If you’re told you have to scrape off the previous surface, and apply a sealer, a key, and 47 coats of highquality paint, believe it and if possible, make sure you do it. First though, you must make your design decisions.

For example, if you’re painting plaster or concrete and you want to get a Mediterranean look, then consider the finish and texture of the paint you are going to use. A silk or satin finish may not give you the look you want. Seek out something that is completely matte for that oldfashioned, white-washed look.

There are companies making specialist paints that contain all manner of additives from eggshell to clay, designed to give a particular look. They’re sometimes a more expensive than the stock standard

models, but it may mean the difference between a job you’re happy with and something that never feels quite right. Remember when it was impossible to achieve a highgloss finish without using enamel? Not now. Gloss paint is making a comeback, especially for weatherboard, wrought and corrugated iron.

It comes in acrylic enamel, which is shiny, hard-wearing and still cleans up in water. If the glossiest of glosses doesn’t satisfy you, go for glitter – metallic paints are fabulous fun, and can give you stunning finishes around outdoor areas, especially when used alongside water, glass and outdoor lighting.


Since you’re spending money on paint, be prepared to also spend money on applicators. Your main tool of trade will be a brush, and there really is a difference between a cheap one and a good one. A high-quality brush will give you a thicker, smoother, more even finish, and you’ll enjoy using it more too.

Like your hair, good brushes have texturised haircuts. The best ones are with tapered bristles that don’t show brush strokes and don’t shed hair. Their metal bits don’t go rusty and put nasty brown stains on your paintwork, they hold more paint meaning fewer trips to the paint pot, and if you clean them properly, they last longer than one or two jobs.

Choose the right sized brush for the job. Painting a filigree wrought iron grill with a four inch brush isn’t going to make you happy. Choose the right bristles for the surface and the paint. Nylon and synthetic bristles work well with water-based paints, while natural bristles are more suitable for oil-based paint, varnishes, stains and lacquers.

The same applies to rollers. Compare the roller you’re buying to a good haircut and go for one that is thicker, doesn’t shed and looks just as good after a few shampoos. The greatest advantage is that they hold more paint so avoid dripping and splattering.

While you’re buying brushes and rollers, get your clean up gear. It’s pointless to spend money on a decent brush and leave it in 100ml of unclean turps, hoping it’s ready for the next time you want to use it.

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