Project 2: Garden cosmetic facelift

There’s a lot you can learn about yourself, working in the garden. I’m more of an ideas person, it turns out, read: I think of great ideas, then get bored when implementing. My latest greatest idea is to paint our fence. A nice dark colour will help it recede, making our garden look bigger. A dark colour will also contrast nicely with our future pleached olive trees we’ll put in for screening (and yummy olives in 7-10 years).

I’d been looking forward to painting the fence for two weeks! The first week we had a family issue come up. And then it rained for a week. It was looking good for a sunny weekend in week 3. And sunny it was – it was gorgeous! Here in Canberra, after winter, we get excited about 18°C days. I got sunburnt.

Upon opening the paint tin, my first thought was, ‘oh, I guess it dries darker’. It has been said that on occasion, I may overreact. Well, on this occasion, when the paint went on, I may have had a bit of a tanty. The fence was supposed to be dark. Almost-black dark. Instead it looked slightly-overcast grey. I was not impressed. I was drafting strongly worded letters in my mind as I finished off the first coat. I’d had the garden ‘vision’ planned all out – the dark dusty grey/blue fence contrasting behind dappled olive tree leaves. Instead it was the colour of olive tree leaves. Well, for your future reference, here are a few lessons I’ve learned about painting:

  1. Do a test patch…and let it dry! Sounds obvious, but hey, who has the time. The colour looked 100 times better by the afternoon. And perfect by the next evening after the second coat. I could have saved myself a lot of stress if I’d just been patient.
  2. You will never have ‘just the right amount’ of paint. The amount of paint you need will depend on several factors, including the surface. Half of our fence was in great condition – the paint went straight on and we could do it with a roller. The other half was a different story – splintered, crooked, weathered – and required a heap more paint and time to fill in all the cracks. There are online calculators and tools you can use to estimate how much paint you will need, but if the surface is not perfect, you’ll probably need more.
  3. Break the job up. You’ll need to have a bit of time in-between coats anyway, but overall, painting a fence, Karate Kid style, can get really boring. Many folk asked if I found it meditative. My answer is no.
  4. There is very strong correlation between how boring the painting exercise has become, with how much you start slopping on the paint (see chart below).
Paint sloppage v boredom level

Paint sloppage v boredom level

 

Some happy snaps of the great wall:

First coat. A bit pale and patchy.

First coat. A bit pale and patchy.

 

Paint everywhere. Pumice is good for removing dried on paint. Blue paint on stockings also dries to look like epic bruising.

Paint everywhere. Pumice is good for removing dried on paint. Blue paint on stockings also dries to look like epic bruising.

 

Getting a bit of extra help from our friends. LW managed the entire retaining wall by herself. Hungover.

Getting a bit of extra help from our friends. LW managed the entire retaining wall by herself. Hungover.

The great wall. Looking good.

The great wall. Looking good.

Project Cost: $100 for two tins of paint. Had paint roller and paintbrush.

Next Steps: Get some plants in before it get’s baking hot.

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