Spring lasts a long time in a yard with evergreens and perennial color. Rocks, gravel, flagstones, and pavers, all define modest paths. Water and lighting offer special effects.

And, brightly colored or earth toned furniture cushions and planters add interest.

But, wood belongs in a garden, and you can use wood finish to make your backyard a place to entertain guests, feed the family, and just plain relax in comfort.

Wood Focal Point

Every garden needs a focal point. It does not have to be in the center, and more often works better off center or in a corner.

  • Stain a free-standing piece of fence as a screen or decorative piece among complementary shrubs.

If it has open slats or a weave, let it stand as a trellis for a jasmine or climbing rose.

  • Stand wooden doors in distressed colors or finishes among bushes and shrubs showing just enough shape and color to be interesting.
  • Color wooden fencing with outdoor finish to stand out behind randomly placed greenery or mute the finish to disappear to the eye.
  • Hang finished antique and distressed window frames or bird houses from tree limbs.

Highlight Occasional Pieces

  • Place interesting gates in the surrounding fence and make them standout with wood stain that contrasts with fence or picks up a color theme in fencing or garden colors.
  • Color and protect wood furniture – chairs, benches, picnic tables – with Adirondack, beach, or desert colors.
  • Highlight a windmill or mute a decorative well with rustic or Victorian tones.

Install the Big Item

  • Use wood finishes and stains to differentiate elements of a deck, railing, and pergola.
  • Try something different than the usual redwood stain in the treatment of a wooden gazebo and hot tub frame – perhaps, recycled barn lumber.
  • Use paint to make a playhouse charming or a shed a little less utilitarian.

Take a Lesson

But, before the spring gets away from you, visit your local paint center. Take some lessons on wood finishing. There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to finishing products and techniques.

  • There are oil based and water based stains.
  • They come in clear, neutrals, and a range of colors.
  • Some withstand footwear better than others; some are better for one application than others.
  • Some are more waterproof, and others weather nicely when wet.
  • Various stains and finishes apply with sprayers, and there is a wide selection of brushes for application.
  • There are stains that appear most effectively when applied in layers and lacquers and varnishes that add a gloss.

Now, you do need to go at this with a plan. Staining and adding items at will and whim will only create an unattractive jumble.

Consult with your landscape gardener – if you have one – to help configure the color schemes.

Using non-organic matter to design a garden is called “hardscaping,” and you may want advice on the total picture.

But, you might begin small. For example, update existing lawn and patio furniture with wood finish. Add a market umbrella and upholstery.

Once you have this visual unit in place, build on it visually. Sit removed from the furniture, so you can see it in the context of the rest of the garden space and color.

Then, add an accent at a time. It is still a function of the yard’s size, but too much of anything is a distraction. Stop just short of your planned finish.

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Mike has turned many backyards into masterpieces that have always stood the test of time.