The Painted Garden: Props, Ornaments and Paint

Multi-colored garden fence

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Always do you research Ornamenting your garden and landscape should compliment its design and style. There are many ways to transform your outdoor space, but painted garden features and ornaments will enhance it for the enjoyment of all. Today’s designers use paint to freshen up and give new life to old objects, but they also use paint techniques to age ornaments and give them a more antique appeal.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Always do you research before beginning a painting project so that you know the best paint to choose for the project."


Decorative paint in the garden goes back to the ancient Roman culture. In the ruined city of Pompeii, archaeologists are even today unearthing lovely scenes from garden walls that showcase the Roman way of life. Many courtyard gardens feature wall and fresco style paintings as a lovely way to incorporate a theme--from Colonial Spanish to rustic country--a large-scale wall mural makes a terrific conversation piece and focal point. Of course, there are many decorative painting styles and finishes to consider as well.


The patio floor is another area where paint might make a dramatic difference--and an affordable alternative to more expensive flooring and ornaments. For example, if you cannot outfit your patio in marble, you can easily paint a marbled effect that is perfect for the outdoors. As antique garden tiles are very pricey too, can paint your own to incorporate in your floor plan. Traditional colonial Spanish tiles are done in white and a rich blue, or you could adapt an Art Nouveau style tile into the floor and also around a water feature like a fountain or pool.

TIP: Susan advises, "Before painting any surface, be sure that it is clean and dry."


Speaking of fountains, why not give your plain stone or ceramic fountain new life with a decorative coat of paint? There are many metallic paints that provide the natural look of bronze, copper or pewter and allow a plain feature to become a spotlight component of your garden. If your fountain features rocks, consider painting these in cool metallic colors for a refreshing effect to compliment the nearby plant growth.


The most commonly painted garden props are containers. There are many inexpensive styles of planters and pots that can be purchased with a paint project in mind. Containers can be painted to match the colors of your house, painted to look like stone or some other material, and some are painted with objects and designs. Flowers, leaves or seashells can easily be stenciled and painted on garden containers for an eye-catching look. Painting your containers with bright primary colors will give them extra flair and compliment the plants they hold.


Garden furniture will certainly benefit from decorative paint. Consider painting a checkerboard on your tabletop for those relaxing occasions outdoors. Glossy white paint is a good choice for garden furniture. A country style garden might employ white furniture, but consider spicing it up with painted green vines and wreaths. Old flea market furniture works great in the garden after a fresh coat paint as well. A glossy black paint might even mimic wrought iron.


Other props that can easily be painted are pergolas, arbors, arches, statues, trellises, wooden fences (lattice and picket fences especially), decks, benches, plant-holders, stepping stones, garden markers, stone or cement edgings, etc. Virtually any garden prop or ornament can be transformed with paint. Be sure to use outdoor paint for your garden projects.

TIP: Susan recommends, "Use a suitable varnish on painted surfaces in order to extend their outdoor life."


Color choice is always an important consideration. It can camouflage a piece if you so desire or it can transform it into a focal point. Your selection of color depends on your garden’s individual style. Green, black, gray and white are ideal colors for a formal garden, but are also perfect selections for a rock garden and a Japanese garden. Earth tones like muted orange, natural greens, tans and blues make nice colors for a Southwestern style garden. Again, it depends on the garden style and also the type of plants in the landscape.