We put a lot of thought into interior decorating ideas, while often the exterior of our homes gets neglected. But outdoor wall decor ideas are an easy way of brightening up an uninspiring outdoor space. They can bring colour and character to gardens all year round, not just over the summer months.
Whether your outdoor area is large or small, think of the outdoor wall space as an extended decorating opportunity. Look for ideas that will turn it into a colourful focal point feature or a calming oasis to act as the backdrop for your garden seating or dining area.
Outdoor wall decor ideas
‘Decorating the exterior not only weatherproofs and protects your home, it’s also the perfect opportunity to add design personality to the outdoor space. This is often left as an afterthought once the interior is completed,’ says Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director at Little Greene.
‘You don’t need to revamp the whole façade to make an impact. A simple update such as painting an exterior wall to offset patio furniture can make the whole home feel renewed. I love to use colour in unexpected or surprising ways to update an outside area. Even the smallest outdoor space can be transformed with a splash of colour into a place in which to escape and retreat to at the end of the day.’
1. Cover a plain wall with trellis
Featureless outdoor walls can be uninspiring to look out upon. Paint the wall a calming colour as an easy way of brightening the space up quickly and without too much effort. If brickwork or timber isn’t in a great condition, covering it up with wooden panelling helps disguise any imperfections too.
Use several sections of horizontal fence panelling to create a vertical mini garden where you can display smaller plant pots and baskets. Ikea’s Applaro wall-mounted panels come complete with hooks that make it easy to arrange and rearrange planting. Painting wall panels black creates a bold contrast and will help to make greenery really pop.
2. Paint walls a standout shade
Swap safe neutrals for a splash of bolder colour outdoors with imaginative Garden paint ideas. Painting one wall a vibrant shade will give an outdoor space focus and makes a lively backdrop for an outdoor dining area or a relaxed seating snug.
Dark, lush shades of green or bold blue are a great foil for foliage and flowers and will help highlight and accentuate bright colours. In an outdoor barbecue or dining area, why not think about adding wall shelves too? A couple of old wooden scaffold boards will make a sturdy outdoor shelving idea and will look fabulous styled up with herbs and plants for cooking, along with timber serving boards and rustic tableware.
3. Make a garden gallery wall
Elevate planting to the next level by creating an outdoor gallery wall on an empty expanse of brickwork or section of fence panelling. Picture gallery walls are a big trend in interiors right now, so why not follow the same principle and swap pictures and prints for plants and foliage?
A garden gallery wall makes a brilliant backdrop for an outdoor seating area. Create variety by using an assortment of different planters, from wall-hung troughs and wire baskets, to old loaf tins or cans, arranged at staggered heights. Just drill holes in the bottom for drainage.
And if you have a couple of old picture frames to hand, why not remove the glass and paint a few up, then include as part of the display, framing a selection of spiky succulents or mini ferns.
4. Create a botanical haven with a living wall
While walls and fences in-between properties are necessary to create privacy, if there’s a lack of greenery the space can sometimes feel quite sparse and empty. Adding a living wall of vertical greenery is a brilliant way of bringing colour to a patio and can help to merge the divide between indoors and out.
A vertical wall planting system makes planting a doddle. A simple framework of battens is attached to the wall as a starting point, with individual plastic planters that clip onto the frame arranged in staggered rows. Watering is provided by a reservoir system, with different plants simply popped into each planter to build up a lush and vibrant planting scheme.
5. Make a mini wall display
Bring a small outdoor space to life with a mini display of greenery. Perfect for outdoor wall space beside the back door, use planters to grow herbs so they are conveniently located and easy to grab when you’re cooking.
Use kitchen utensil rails to create this set-up, with mini hook-on planters to hold greenery. Just position one rail above the other to fill the available space. Ikea’s Hultarp utensil range can be used to create a similar effect to this one.
6. Perk up a plain wall with jolly DIY planters
Try a fun planting idea to brighten up an outdoor wall in a covered patio or courtyard. Step up clever upcycling garden ideas to add unique personality.
Repurpose a couple of old straw hats that are out of shape and no longer being worn. Simply cut a hole in the top of the hat (the part that sits on the head) so that you can slip a small plant pot inside. Use garden twine and a nail to secure the hat planter to the wall and then pop a potted plant in, arranging the foliage to cover up the hole. This is a great budget garden idea if you want to keep costs down.
7. Hang an outdoor mirror
Brighten up a bare wall by adding a garden mirror nestled in amongst the foliage. Hanging a mirror is a clever visual trick that can help to make a short garden feel a bit longer. Position your mirror strategically, so that it reflects foliage rather than brickwork or unsightly drain pipes, and it will help create the illusion that the garden stretches further than it actually does.
Take care not to position outdoor mirrors in direct sunlight or where they might reflect strong sunlight for long periods, which could cause a hazard. And don’t position mirrors too high where they could impact on bird flight paths.
8. Make your potting bench a focal point
Instead of reserving it for the purely functional, treat a potting bench or outdoor table as an opportunity for a garden display space. Outdoor planting arrangements often lack height, so a bench is a brilliant way of elevating a display and filling wall space.
Get creative with a few taller items or hanging ornaments in your arrangement and include decorative planters, watering cans and general garden bric-a-brac. Positioning a mirror as a backdrop for a display will reflect the items outwards and make the display feel busier and brighter.
9. Paint a wall black to add drama
Dark walls are a fabulous way of creating areas of contrast in a garden. Make a statement by painting an outdoor wall or fence panel in a dramatic shade of black, dark grey or navy. Painting walls or fences a dark colour will make them recede into the background and make the space feel bigger, which is a clever trick to use in small gardens and compact patios.
Flowers and greenery will stand out more against a dark backdrop, making them look and feel more lush and vibrant.
10. Go halves with wall colour
Bright, sunny wall colours are an easy way of brightening up an outdoor patio or terrace, but if you’re unsure about committing to bold colours outdoors, then compromise by painting walls half way.
Opt for a cheery shade of yellow on the lower section of wall and keep the top section of wall white for a calmer feel. Having the darker paint colour on the bottom helps to ground the space and creates a bold backdrop for garden furniture, pots and planting.
11. Set up an outdoor shelf display
Create an outdoor living area in a sheltered spot outdoors, with a sociable arrangement of seating and occasional furniture to give the space a relaxed, homely feel.
Brighten up an empty wall area by fixing up a long run of shelving that spans the space. Line shelves with a mix of outdoor planters, vases, greenery and garden ornaments, arranged in mini groupings along the shelves. Choose colours that complement outdoor rugs and cushions, for a relaxed, co-ordinated look.
Burford garden chairs, from £520 for two, John Lewis.
12. Have fun with a colourful wall mural
Go all-out with colour and create a sunny mural as the focal point for an outdoor seating area. Go bold and use hot pinks and oranges for a tropical vibe or opt for soft and soothing greens and blues if you prefer a more restful scheme.
Paint the wall in your background colour first, using masonry paint for a longer-lasting finish. To create a semi-circle, you’ll need a pencil attached to the end of a length of string. Decide on the overall width of your circle and mark the two outer points with the pencil. Then pin the string at a mid-point between the two, holding it taught so that the pencil touches one point and then pencil up and around to create your semi-circle.
Royal Exterior paint, £19.20 per ltr, Protek.
13. Pretty-up an outdoor space with wall art
For a super-easy way off brightening up a dreary outdoor space, consider buying off-the-peg artwork. Metal plaques, oversized wall clocks, mirrors and outdoor signs make a lovely addition to an exterior wall or fence panel, either alone or in a group arrangement. Outdoor artwork will often have a pre-rusted finish that gives an aged, vintage vibe or come pre-coated to give a weather-resistant finish that can withstand the outdoor elements.
Rustic metal wall decoration, £34.95, Live Laugh Love.
14. Try out an easy garden make
Make easy DIY tin can holders for candles or plants to display along a fence or trellis. You’ll need a selection of clean cans, with labels removed. To make the planters, use a bradawl to punch drainage holes in the bottom of each can. For the lanterns, just draw on a simple pattern with a Sharpie pen and then use the bradawl to punch out the pattern following the lines.
Add two extra holes at the top of each can for hanging. Once you’re happy with your pattern, spray cans with two coats of coloured spray paint in vibrant shades. When dry, thread wire through the top holes to form a hanger and then hook onto your trellis.
15. Create a destination
Give a garden an end point to create extra depth and intrigue, as it helps to draw the eye in and encourage further investigation. Invite interest by painting a wall or fence at the end of a garden in a welcoming shade that leads you in and creates a natural stopping point. Go for a meandering pathway, rather than a straight path, with garden structures and seating areas at various stop-off points.
How do you decorate an outdoor wall?
When it comes to decorating an outdoor wall, the easiest option is probably paint. It’s essential to use masonry paints rather than standard emulsion as these are weatherproof and are designed to adhere to coarse and difficult surfaces, as well as protect exterior masonry work.
‘Wash exterior walls first before painting, say the experts at Dulux. ‘Cleaning your walls is an all important first step that you don’t want to skip. Make sure your walls are free of any dirt, debris or stains. We’d also recommend treating any patches of mould or algae with Weathershield Multisurface Fungicidal Wash. Then, remove any surface dirt and any loose or flaking paint by giving the whole surface a good wash down. Make sure you then rinse the wall with clean water to ensure a quality finish that lasts for years.’
‘By using Weathershield Masonry Paints you’re giving your walls and front of house décor protection from weather damage, as well as mould and algae growth. They’re also made with anti-fade technology for long-lasting colour. Two coats are usually enough, but if you’re painting over a strong shade, you might need a third.’
What can I put on my outdoor walls?
Aside from transforming outdoor walls with a fresh coat of paint, adding shelves, artwork, trellis or wall-hung planters are all easy ways of brightening up dreary wall space. Lighter-weight items can be fixed onto a brick wall using brick clips, which simply grip onto the mortar without the need for any drilling. For heavier items it’s essential to use the correct fixing or bracket for the weight of the item being hung, and will often mean using a masonry drill and fixings. If in doubt, it’s always wise to call in a professional to do the work.
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Lisa is Deputy Editor of Style at Home magazine and regularly contributes to sister title Ideal Home. She has written about interiors for more than 25 years and about pretty much every area of the home, from shopping and decorating, crafts and DIY to real home transformations and kitchen and bathroom makeovers. Homes and interiors have always been a passion and she never tires of nosying around gorgeous homes, whether on TV, online, in print or in person.
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