Earth Designs in Print Guardian

Grow a Friendly Space

Earth Designs were recently featured in Dawn Isaac’s article for Guardian Weekend discussing colour within the garden:

Professional garden designers have a trick up their sleeve – they inject colour into the permanent structures in their gardens. Dawn Isaac offers, tips for doing the same at home

Gardeners work their green fingers to the bone trying to coax colour from plants, but as anyone with a few grey hairs will tell you, sometimes nature needs a little help. So why not add some permanent colour or a few highlights to liven up your outdoor space?

As with so much in design, less is more, so sticking to a single colour will give the garden a sense of unity. It pays to purchase sample pots and paint old offcuts of wood. These can be placed around the garden to judge the effects of light, weather and associated planting, all of which can change how colour performs.

One effective way to use paint is by taking a leaf out of interior design’s book and creating a feature wall. Bricks and concrete will be transformed with masonry paint which you can have matched to almost any colour, even picking up the tones of a favourite feature plant. (Try Dulux masonry paint from £24.98 for five litres.)

For easy maintenance it’s best not to clothe the wall too heavily in plants. Grow climbers up galvanised steel mesh grids which can be lifted off hooks on the wall and laid on the ground when a repaint is needed. Masonry paint can also be used to revive old stone and terracotta pots, tying the scheme together. If this sounds like a maintenance headache, there are other answers. Garden designer Jo Thompson is of which a fan of ready-coloured render. “I love the subtle tones with this effect and, best of all, because the colour runs right through the material, there’s no need to keep reapplying.” (Download a colour chart at It stocks a classy powder blue or pale grey.) Of course there can be a place for brighter, stronger colours. A bright yellow bench, say, makes an eye-catching feature but can be put away in winter. (For wood try Cuprinol garden shades, from £19.98 for 2.5 litres; for metal check out Rustoleum CombiColor, from £23.50 for 2.5 litres,

Render or woodwork are obvious candidates for an injection of colour, but more unusual materials can help add a different flavour.

“Coloured Perspex sheets are incredibly effective and I often use them as part of a screen to hide any ugly areas or create divisions,” says designer Katrina Wells, of Earth Designs. “They have a funky, modern feel and they don’t block out as much light as a solid, divider.” (Try Trent Plastics,, 01427611668; from £1.47 per A4 sheet of coloured acrylic.)

Colour can come in softer materials, too, with the range of outdoor fabrics increasing year on year. (Try Osborne & Little’s Zancudo outdoor fabrics, from £46.79 per sq m, at Curtain Up, Exterior fabrics are UV resistant to keep colours fresh as long as possible and, although ideally taken in during winter months, can survive longer outside if you select those treated with an antibacterial agent.

Re-covering existing seat pads will freshen up a dining area and adding scatter cushions in a highlight colour can brighten neutral seating. To make a bigger statement, use a larger expanse such as a shade sail or even outdoor drapes hung from a pergola frame.

Material can also help tie together house and garden, as designer Lizzie Taylor points out. “Many of my clients have large areas of glass to link their living areas on to the garden. Soft furnishings are a really effective way to bring these two spaces together and sometimes it’s as simple as picking up a key interior colour in some outdoor cushions.”

Taking this indoor/outdoor theme further, Taylor has also used artwork to inject colour into a garden. “Exterior prints can be pricey, but a simple trick is to take an interior canvas and paint it with yacht varnish for instant weatherproofing.” (Try Ikea canvas printed pictures, from £25, and B&Q for 1 litre of Ronseal yacht varnish, from £13.48,

family garden design
family garden design