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Transform your veranda

It’s summer time and living is easy. Maximise your indoor-outdoor living space and create places to grow things with a splash of paint and new garden accessories.

Now’s the season to make the most of the great outdoors – including whatever kind of deck, balcony or patio you call your own. Encourage the use of this space by making it a comfortable, relaxing spot to while away your leisure hours. A new lick of paint in colours that are restful to the eye can revamp dull surfaces and make a huge difference to the look and feel of your balcony. Top off your transformation with the addition of a planter for herbs and some furniture that’s designed with late-afternoon snoozes in mind.

Mould, leaves and assorted clutter can accumulate over the winter months, so the first step in your outdoor makeover is to clear the decks and give everything a vigorous sweep or scrub with a stiff brush, a bucket of water and a garden-friendly cleaner. If the gunk still doesn’t budge, hire a waterblaster and get stuck in.

Next comes the fun part – choosing the paint. It’s one of the wonders of colour that if you paint or stain a wooden deck in a dark shade it will retreat visually – giving the space you have painted the appearance of being larger. Likewise, if you paint vertical decking rails or other upright posts a dark colour they will disappear and accentuate any greenery that has been planted in the background. 

painting pot plants

For an extra splash of colour to your handrail or to brighten a worn back doorstep, add an accent shade. When painting bare wood, prepare the surface first with a layer of undercoat. Whatever the colours, choose low-VOC paints with the Environmental Choice tick. 

Once the painting’s done, treat yourself to some accessories. Comfy yet durable outdoor furniture is a must-have for those long afternoons with only a book for company. Lazy Beans’ bean bag chairs are made from marine-grade canvas, so they’re resistant to water, mildew and fading – plus they come in a whole rainbow of colours. 

If space is tight, bean bags offer the added bonus of being useful both inside and outside your home. Available from $135 at Lazy Beans.

painting pot plants

Give new life to an ordinary old terracotta planter with small test pots of paint. One test pot covers two to three plant pots. Get a young fruit tree growing in a medium-sized pot filled with rich soil, or add bamboo stakes and cultivate tomatoes and a summer crop of basil. The advantage of tomatoes in pots is that you can move them around to best catch the sun. Be sure to feed your tomatoes as they grow with plenty of liquid fertiliser.    

For those with limited room for a garden, Haxnicks ‘Space Saver’ raised beds (pictured above) are a cunning solution. They’re small enough to tuck into the tiniest of balconies but fit three to four seedlings each. Made from tough polyethylene, they’ll last for numerous growing seasons but are much lighter than ceramic or terracotta pots. Grab two for $36 at most garden centres.

Plant a flower and herb combo for cheerful colour and a ready supply of fresh flavours in your kitchen. Be sure to water your planters throughout the hot summer months – try re-using leftover cooking water.

For an unusual touch, try Boskke Sky Planters. Yes, they’re really supposed to hang upside-down – a fine mesh keeps everything from falling out. They also make an unusual visual screen for the sides of your deck or patio, or use them indoors where floor or bench space is limited. Sky Planters are more efficient than the average pot plant as water is fed directly to the roots. Prices start at $49 from Simon James Design

For more serious gardening you’ll be wanting some seriously stylish foot protection. Check out Gummies gumboots featuring designs by local artists. At $70 they make a special gift for a green-fingered friend.

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