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Easy ways to add pops of colour to your garden

Words Deb Tapp  | DomPost 2018

A dding colour to an outdoor space is like decorating indoors, says garden designer Rachael Mathews.



Garden art and sculptures, like these ceramic tea pots and fairy cups, can add not only a focal point but interest to an outdoor setting. Delphiniums add seasonal colour

“If homeowners think about how they might separate spaces inside their houses, then they can apply the same rules outside, it’s about creating garden zones.

“And it requires a similar skillset,” explains Rachael, owner of Wellington based HEDGE Garden Design & Nursery.

“It’s thinking about a predominantly green outdoor space and coming up with ideas to brighten it up, to give it some personality.”

Adding colour to an outdoor space can come from the likes of furniture, painted walls, pots, fences, outdoor cushions, garden art, lush green and/or textured plants and even flowering plants.

“Gardens usually feature lush, green plants but injecting pops of colour just adds another dimension.”


Brightly coloured chairs add refreshing hues outside and contrast well with a dark stained fence.

Rachael loves the French bistro café and Italian range of furniture, simply because it’s a good way to bring colour into a garden.

Brightly-coloured chairs, either woven, wooden or steel, bench seats, tables, and even vibrant bean bags add refreshing hues outside.

“Accessorising” outdoors could see old cushions traded in for new ones in eye-catching colours, to be placed on existing furniture.

Another easy way to create a more colourful garden is to bring in colourful pots.

Alternatively, use a cluster of black or blue pots in various shapes and textures and add colour through flowering plants.

“In my own home I have collections of pots that create interest through either their vibrant foliage or colour, depending on seasons.”


An easy way to create a more colourful garden is to bring in colourful pots.

Seasonality is worth thinking about, so too are colour preferences, says Rachael.

“In my experience, people tend to have strong emotional reactions to colours, and sometimes they know it and sometimes I have to draw it out of them.

“A lot of people don’t like orange or yellow flowers, sometimes it’s pink or red or even purple that they don’t like.”

The likes of garden art and sculptures come down to personal preference too, and both can add not only a focal point but interest to an outdoor setting.


Blue hydrangeas and colourful furniture add pop to Rachael's deck.

Painted fences can also infuse the landscape, Rachael suggesting homeowners stain untreated timber and paint dressed timber as a general rule of thumb.


“The quickest way to transform your garden is to stain or paint your fence and mulch the garden.”


Dressed timber fences, which are usually to the front of the house and more visible, and could be painted in a colour that picks up tones of the house colour.


Paint also emphasises the timber texture.

Stained, untreated timber fences are usually found to the rear of a property and are best stained.​


For a dramatic difference, paint an exterior wall, but choose a colour that will complement the area.

Done right, a black painted or stained fence can result in that wow factor, says Rachael.

“Black makes all the other colours around it stand out, it will make your garden look lusher and healthier, whereas if you have a plain fence… it’s almost comparable to not wearing make-up.”

For a dramatic difference, paint an exterior wall, but choose a colour that will complement the area.

“Don’t paint a shade of green on the wall, it will look artificial, it must be in keeping with the natural greens already in the garden.”

With that in mind, Rachael suggests dark greys, dark blues, colours that don’t necessarily tie in with house colours.

At her own home she has painted a brick wall in Resene “Ultra Black” and is painting a blue feature wall outside her kitchen window.

“The colours have nothing to do with the house colour, it’s simply a feature wall – people often think about painting feature walls indoors, but there’s no reason it can’t be done outdoors as well.”


Image source: @thedoorsofldn on Instagram

Right now Rachael is also working on an outdoor feature wall at a client’s home and is painting it a mid-turquoise blue.



“It will provide a good backdrop, it’s a way of introducing another colour that is fresh and vibrant, and it goes with other garden colours, it doesn’t clash with the garden.”



Once completed she intends to plant an array of white flowers in front of the wall, to create impact.



Plants can add lushness and texture, and thinking about seasonality is an important part of the decision-making, says Rachael.

“Wellington is full of heavy, evergreen trees, it can be quite dense and it can get a bit samey, samey.


“Instead think about the change of season, particularly with trees, it doesn’t necessarily have to be about colour – it could be blossoms and lightness in spring, maybe summer leaves, autumn fruit, and in winter, it could be more of a deciduous branch structure.”


When deciding how to best add colour to an outdoor space, Rachael suggests homeowners divide the outdoor living areas into zones.

“Then you would add more colour to those ‘zones’ in the ways we’ve talked about, it’s just like accessorising inside.”




Japanese Flowering Crabapple, Malus floribunda

It’s about creating a harmonious space and finding that emotional reaction, says Rachael.



“You want a really beautiful space that is positive, light and airy, a space that is interesting to look at and go into, a space that has that feel-good vibe.


“Your garden is a bit like the inside of the house, you’re in it all the time, you want to be really enjoying it, you want it to be joyful – that kind of space really can lift your spirits.”

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