Make magic with your patio

A patio should be an inviting spot where you can get together with friends, spend time lazing in the morning sun or regenerate after a long day's work. Unfortunately this space can often deteriorate into an untidy storage area for sickly garden plants and furniture that has seen better days. Stop procrastinating and take action right away–all you need is a bit of time, a lot of imagination, a few coats of paint and the odd found object. We chose a sea theme and decided upon white and blue as the main colours.

Shopping List
inexpensive, white ceiling paint
white acrylic paint–we bought a 250ml bottle of Heritage acrylic paint at an art shop
grey-blue acrylic paint – we used 'Quilt Blue' from Heritage
stencil–we used a flower (available at art shops)
floor sealant
2 garden screens–we bought screens of 3 x 2,3m made of alien black wattle at a farm stall (also available at garden centres)
steel supports (to keep the garden screens upright and secure)
sisal rope (to tie the garden screens to the supports)
potting soil
1 bag of river sand (available at garden centres and selected hardware and department stores)
small, white pebbles (available at garden centres)
light-blue, drip-free enamel paint–we used 'Splash of Blue' from Dulux
weed matting or thick plastic to place under the pebbles (for sale at garden centres)
2 deck chairs of raw wood – we paid R250 for each of these chairs, made of blue-gum wood, at Saligna Products

wide short-haired brush (to paint the concrete floor)
wide sponge brush
medium-sized sponge brush to paint on the stencil

Get started
1. Sweep the concrete floor, then hose it down with water and leave to dry. Dilute the white ceiling paint (two parts paint, one part water) and mix it thoroughly. Use very little of the paint at one time and apply it to the floor with quick, light strokes. Do not try to apply the paint solidly–it should look worn and unpainted parts may show here and there.

2. Use the medium-sized sponge brush and apply a thin coat of the (undiluted) grey-blue acrylic paint to the stencil.

3. Transfer the design to the floor – remember to fi rmly press down the sides of the flowers, especially where the surface is uneven and the concrete rough. However, do not try to get the stencil to look too perfect – the end result should still look worn. Once the paint has dried you can seal the floor with a floor sealant.

4. Define the patio with wattle screens on both sides–these will also keep the wind and sun out and provide more privacy. Knock in steel supports and use the sisal rope to fasten the screens. Paint the screens with diluted ceiling paint–use the same method as used for the floor. Do not try to cover the entire screen surface with paint–it should also look worn.

5. The pots contained wild strawberries and half-dead roses. We removed all the dead leaves on the wild strawberries and replaced the roses with the new cypresses. This was also a good time to replace the soil in the pots. Afterwards the pots were given a coat of white acrylic paint. (If the plants get in the way of the paintbrush try covering them with plastic, as seen in the photograph.)

6. Use the river sand around the feet of the spiral trees and finish off with a few shells or sea stars to create the feeling of a holiday home.

7. Create a soft green 'wall' or 'border' by planting the same type of plants in a row but remember to leave an entrance on one side. Prepare the bed with compost, plant a hedge of thatching reed (Chondropetalum tectorum) and round it off with a row of Armeria maritima 'Alba'.

8. Place weed matting or thick plastic underneath the areas where you want to place pebbles. This will prevent the pebbles from gradually disappearing into the soil as people walk over them.

Do you have any fun DIY ideas for your patio? Tell us about it in the box below.