Going Green

Our boundary fences have silvered beautifully since they were put up a few years ago.

Linaria purpurea Canon Went and Lysimachia atropurpureum Beaujolais

Sadly, however, unless we want them to deteriorate structurally as their colour fades, it is necessary to protect the wood – something we really should have done when it was new, but somehow never quite got around to.

As another winter staggered into spring, we finally decided that we must apply protection to the fences, and began the surprisingly harrowing process of trying to choose a colour. Given the lovely range of pleasing colours that natural woods boast, I was confounded that of all of the dozens of stains available in the usual DIY outlets, they were all brash and rather outlandish shades of russet red, bright orange-yellow or almost black. There was an even wider choice of colours available if we wanted to stray from these ‘natural’ colours, but while they held some lovely choices, none would be suitable for our rural location adjacent to farmland.

A greater surprise for me was how hard it was to find a real example of these product colours other than the illustrated panel on the tins themselves. With no test-patches in stores or real-life pictures available online, it was impossible to know what we were buying. We made an abortive attempt with a tin labelled Acorn Brown, whose lurid orange-brown on the test piece of wood was nothing like either the gentle square depicted on the tin, or indeed any acorn I’ve ever seen. We were rather dejected at the whole thing, with the weeks continuing to fly past, when Wellywoman helpfully directed me to the protective stains sold by the Green Shop.

What a relief it was to find a protective fence and garden stain, available in two shades that were a far cry away from the day-glo colours elsewhere; even better, using the protective properties of the woad plant rather than biosynthetic ingredients. We selected the ‘Garden Green’ variant, thinking that a greenish tinge would settle in well to our rural environment, and a few weekends ago I set to work on the long stretch of fence separating us from our neighbour – somewhat later in the year than we’d originally hoped, but still optimistic.

Applying Osmo fence and garden stain in garden green

The stain was a thin dark oily green in the tin, looking more like the contents of the brush jar after a heavy watercolour session; though as I applied it to our fence, the wood became richer in tone without turning overtly green. We did not achieve the coverage that the tin claimed; partly due to the extra surface area created by the exposed edge of each slat in our overlap fence, and also the rough nature of the wood, but otherwise it went on smoothly, and the brush easily washed afterwards in warm water, with no clinging film left.

Applying Osmo fence and garden stain in garden green

We’re thrilled at the result so far, although I still have quite a stretch of this fence to complete, not to mention the post and rail fence that runs across the front of our garden and down the other side. The wood that I have painted looks healthy and natural, and continues to blend well into the landscape. I just have to do battle with the long border to complete this section without trampling too many plants, as the border is still filling out more each day.

I have no link with this product, or indeed its manufacturers or suppliers, but after such a battle to find something suitable for us I thought it was worth sharing, in case anybody else is struggling to find a more subtle product to protect garden wood than those most commonly available.

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14 thoughts on “Going Green

  1. Choosing a good colour is soooooooo difficult and as you say the DYS stores have terrible colours which create horrendous backdrops to plants. I’m so pleased you have written about this product I hope everyone who needs to treat fencing will see it.

    • Thanks, Christina. It was a very frustrating experience, but we’re thrilled with what we found in the end – definitely worth holding out for.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. We always struggle finding wood treatments too. The stain you’ve chosen looks great – good luck getting the job finished!

  3. Wood in its natural form and colours can be very beautiful, so the ideal stain would probably be completely colourless! however, in the circumstances I think you have made an excellent choice. Finding that the paint doesn’t match the label is something that always frustrates me as a modeller. I end up buying lots of different paints in the hope that one of them will turn out to be the colour I want.

    • I agree, and I was surprised that the wider market hasn’t addressed this concept of natural wood tones very well! We wanted the ‘least’ colour we could find, and are pleased with this, which seems to take it back somewhere close to its original unweathered colour and not too much further!!
      Mis-represented colours are frustrating indeed.

  4. This looks very natural and I can see why you are thrilled. 10 years ago we painted a fence a hideous shade of green and eventually replaced the fence as it was proving impossible to weather down or cover up and clothe with climbers. Research and patience certainly paid off for you.

    • Ah. I wish we’d found something like this when we painted our shed, it’s a brighter brown than I’d have liked though has settled in a little with time.

  5. I remember our dilemma (and the number of tins I tried!) before we settled on ‘Wild Thyme’, which I knew immediately was the right one for our garden – glad you resolved your dilemma!

  6. I feel the guilt just reading this post as we’ve never coated our fence (and it’s unlikely we’ll get around to it any time soon…..I say ‘we’ but of course I mean me really). Great advice here though, should I actually make time to do it! Bx

    • Not the most enjoyable task, for sure, though the results are pleasing. Have to persuade myself to carry on with it this weekend now!

  7. I’m so pleased you found something you are happy with. I thought they would have something that suited. It looks good but I know how hard work it is. I don’t look forward to having to paint ours. Still it’ll be worth it in the end and provide a lovely backdrop to all your gorgeous flowers.

    • 🙂 Great recommendation! It is hard work, especially when the temperatures are high, but I’m hoping it will be all done by the end of this weekend. I’ve painted about 3/4 of the long fence now and power-washed the lichen off the remaining section ready to go…

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