|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 k-rend.co.uk. 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, rustoleum.co.uk.)
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, trentplastics.co.uk, 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, curtain-up.ltd.uk.) 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, diy.com.)