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Whether you’ve just bought a new shed or have an old summer house that needs some love, painting it is a simple, effective and budget friendly way to turn something mundane or tired into a beautiful new feature in your garden. In this tutorial we will share how to paint your summer house in 7 simple steps. 

First up, you need to think about the type of finish you would like. Paint gives you a bright deep colour but it can cause issues as it doesn’t let the wood breathe. Varnish is great if you like a more natural look, however, like paint, it also traps moisture in and can cause problems going forward if it cracks or bubbles.

Using a stain ensures some of the grain can still be seen, however it is available in many colours these days, and most importantly, it lets the wood breathe, giving it the best longevity out of the different methods. On average, manufacturing companies tend to suggest you paint a stained shed or summerhouse every six years.

What you’ll need to paint your summer house or shed:

Paint / Stain

Sand paper

Sander

Jet washer (or a bucket and soapy water with plenty of elbow grease)

Wire brush

Wide paint brush for wood

Detail paint brushes

Decorator’s Tape

Paint your summer house or garden shed

Step 1: Prepare the woodwork

Clean the woodwork as best you can. Scrub away any mould or mildew, cobwebs or dirt that has splashed up over the years. You may want to use a wire brush to lightly remove any loose flakey paint.

Step 2: Sand it out

Once clean, inspect the paintwork and if it is still flakey, lightly sand your boards with 80 or 120 grit for a smoother finish. However, there is no need to do this if the previous paintwork isn’t flakey. Clean away any dust before painting.

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Step 3: Don’t forget the tape!

Use decorators tape to line the edges of your window panes so you can paint your frames more easily without getting paint on the glass.

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Step 4: Protect the surroundings

Protect surrounding areas with dust sheets, especially if you have a patio or decking. I found this stain to be slightly thinner than regular paint so it is quite drippy!

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Step 5: Time to paint!

Using a detail brush for the finer areas like corners and window frames, and a wider brush for the boards, paint the wood in the same direction as the grain. Try not to overload your paint brush and ensure you brush away any drips before they begin to dry. If you have any end pieces of wood, these will soak up paint profusely, so ensure to dab a generous amount of paint on these using the tip of your brush.

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Step 6: Timing is key

Make sure you adhere to the drying times as stated on your tin of paint.  Because the paint I used is an exterior paint, it cures and hardens overtime (to protect your summerhouse or shed against the elements,) so you may find you get a better finish if you don’t leave it too long before coats.  

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Step 7: Layer, layer, layer

Depending on the finish you desire, and the colour you are painting over, you may find that two coats isn’t sufficient. For instance, we were painting over dark orange and wanted a deep black colour, so we found in the end, three coats gave a better finish.  

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Top tip when you paint your summer house:

Make sure you check the weather before you start your project! Obviously you need plenty of drying time after you have painted, but it’s worth waiting for a few dry days before you paint too. If you paint on damp or wet wood, the paint may blister or flake as it dries out.  This is an ideal project for the warmer weather, your paint will last long and look better if it is left to dry in temperatures above 10C (both during the day and overnight.)

Now you’re done, you can move on to the fun part – styling it up!  

You could upcycle some old crates to use as window boxes, plant a climber in a pot to grow up a trellis or add some hanging baskets for instant colour. You could add pretty curtains inside (which also help with security if you’re storing tools inside) and solar lights to the entrance so you can admire all your hardwork in the evenings too.


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How to paint your summer house or garden shed written by Hannah Otto from @theottohouse
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Did you enjoy this article from @theottohouse on how to paint your summer house in 7 easy steps? Why not read our tutorial on a DIY solar lamp made from pallets or even our guide on how to repair your garden shed!

Are you painting your summer house too? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway#manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

DIY Playhouse guide by Melissa Ritchie, blogger at www.littleterracedhouse.com

As the weather is finally improving, everyone will want to get back out in the garden and make the most of the sunny days. This guide will take you through how to easily build a beautiful playhouse for kids, complete with a living roof to attract plenty of bees and butterflies to the garden.

What you will need:

DIY playhouse guide

Step 1. Preparation station

Familiarise yourself with the instructions that come with the playhouse and check all the components are included. With a pencil, mark each length of wood with its corresponding letter/number reference and organise all your components.

Prepare the components
Prepare the components

Step 2. The construction begins!

Following the instruction guide, start constructing the playhouse. We made pilot holes wherever a screw was required first, using a 3mm wood drill bit. We made sure the cladding was attached, using the screws provided, at right angles using a square.

Step 3. Sides first and foremost

Put together all the sides, following the instruction guide first.

Build the sides of the DIY playhouse
Build the sides of the DIY playhouse

Step 4. Assembly time

Next, the playhouse needs to be assembled – you will need two people for this bit. Make pilot holes first and then screw together.

Assemble the playhouse
Assemble the playhouse

Step 5. Roof it

Attach the roof cladding. If you are not adding a roof planter, simply follow the guide and overlap each length. This will help avoid water coming into the playhouse when it rains. As we decided to add a planter to our roof, the cladding was screwed flat to the roof as illustrated below.

Add the roof cladding
Add the roof cladding

Step 6. Planter it up

The roof planter was made using the spare lengths of wood that would otherwise have been used for the roof, had the cladding overlapped. The planter is simply a frame, screwed to the edges of the roof. The bottom and top of the frame will not need to be cut down – you can just use a spare roof panel. The sides of the planter can be cut to the correct length from the remaining spare panels.

We made our planter about 1cm longer than the roof. This overhanging gap allows for drainage.  

Screw the planter frame together. It can then be attached to the roof by screwing up through the roof panels and into the frame along the sides.

Roof planter for the DIY playhouse
Roof planter for the DIY playhouse

Step 7. Line the planter

The planter needs to be lined. We used a thick plastic wrap that had been used as packaging, however old compost bags or a pond liner will also work well. Position the liner over the planter and secure in place with a staple gun.

Pierce some holes in the liner where the planter frame overhangs the roof, to ensure water can drain freely.

Line the planter on the playhouse's roof
Line the planter on the playhouse’s roof

Step 8. Let’s paint!

Paint or stain the playhouse in whatever design you choose! There’s various outdoor timber paints available on the ManoMano website. We went for a beach hut style playhouse with blue and white stripes and purple window and door frames.

Personalise your DIY playhouse with a touch of paint
Personalise your DIY playhouse with a touch of paint

Step 9. A spot of roof gardening

Now it’s time to fill up the planter. As the planter itself is on an incline, we covered it with mesh to help secure the compost and plants in place. Use a staple gun to attach the mesh to the planter and then fill with compost. 

The planter can then be filled with plants of your choice. Choose shallow rooted bedding, creeping or trailing plants; we used violas, trailing lobelia and petunias. Sedums also work really well and can be purchased on a roll like turf – this is a really low maintenance option.

Playhouse roof gardening
Playhouse roof gardening

Step 10. The final touches

Finally, we added solar festoon lights around the edge of the roof to light the playhouse up in the evening. These are easily attached to a length of garden twine or wire, secured to the roof planter with small nails. Be sure to place the solar charger somewhere it’ll receive plenty of sun!

The final touches
The final touches

Whatever colour you decide to go for, your little ones are sure to love the new addition to the garden. We can’t wait to see our roof planter fill out over summer and enjoy all the pollinators it will attract to the garden.

DIY Playhouse for kids
DIY Playhouse for kids

Did you enjoy this article from Little Terraced House on how to build and design a DIY playhouse for kids? Why not read our tutorial on a DIY solar lamp made from pallets or even our tips on what plants to grow for maximum privacy.

Are you working on a DIY playhouse for your garden? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Garden makeover project by Bland Design

With the recent easing of Covid restrictions here in the UK I thought it was about time I got my garden ready for guests now that we’re finally allowed to meet up! Before I started, I only had an old table with a collapsed top and no chairs. All it takes is a few DIY projects and some help from ManoMano to totally transform your space ready for entertaining… That’s the plan at least!

The garden before its makeover
The garden before its makeover

I’ve split the garden makeover into 6 mini projects:

  1. DIY Garden Mirror
  2. Tips for painting wood outdoors
  3. Using arches to structure your garden
  4. DIY Garden Table 
  5. Setting up a pizza oven
  6. Making it comfy

1. Garden makeover: DIY Mirror 

The garden makeover features a DIY mirror
The garden makeover features a DIY mirror

Materials & tools

My garden is pretty small, so adding a mirror is a fun way to add a bit of dimension to the space (just be mindful of its placement so you don’t have any accidents with birds flying into it). For mine I made it to go behind the metal arbour seat against my fence to create a fun optical illusion that the garden extends further.

This one is surprisingly simple; cut the marine ply to the size you want (I left a border around mine and painted the edge black) and glue down the mirrors with the solvent free adhesive, making sure to apply even lines of glue.

Place the mirrors down firmly and leave it lying flat while the glue sets for a few hours and you’re done! To keep it in place I used a couple of wood screws to attach the top to the fence and the base is resting on the floor to take the weight.

2. Garden makeover: Painting Wood Outdoors

So, I’m slightly obsessed with painting everything black, however you can choose any colour… But before you grab your brushes, don’t make the same mistake that I did last year! I painted this bench a year ago and it’s peeling already because I didn’t sand it, but I’ve fixed it now!

Materials & tools

The bench from last year that hadn't been sanded down
The bench from last year that hadn’t been sanded down
The bench is a key part to the garden makeover
The bench is a key part to the garden makeover

I also painted the fence and raised planter, these are made from ‘sawn’ wood which is rough and easily holds on to the paint, which is handy, along with the sawn timber that I used to border the beds around the garden. The wood for the borders was actually repurposed from the old boiler tank in my loft but you can use this timber for the same thing. All you have to do is dig a little trench for them to rest in once you’ve painted/stained them.

Painting the wood
Painting the wood

My pro tips for painting wood outside:

  • If you’re repainting something that’s peeling (like my bench) you’ll need to give it a rub down with a wire brush and then a light sand to give the new paint something to grab on to
  • Smooth unfinished wood needs lightly sanding and possibly priming (if your chosen paint brand recommends it) 
  • Multiple thin coats with a very light sanding in between will last much longer than one thick coat. It’s more effort initially but totally worth it!
  • Wood outdoors will usually need retreating/touching up every couple of years, that’s just something I’ve come to accept

3. Garden makeover: Structures 

I quite like the slightly overgrown/woodland garden look, although it can look a little wild… In order to give the garden a bit of interest, I used simple metal arches to help structure the area. (Last year I build a massive pergola on my patio – if you you’re wanting to do something a bit more dramatic take a look at the blog article I did.)

Add some structure to your garden makeover
Add some structure to your garden makeover

I already had one arch next to the raised bed (which I really like) so why not add more! Along the fence where there aren’t any trellis I added a set of green arches to eventually grow climbing plants around. This will give the garden a bit more privacy, it’s really simple but effective – and they just stab into the ground!

And as if that wasn’t enough, directly in front of the original arch, I used an arched metal arbour seat in front of the arched mirror I made (I think that’s enough arches now). 

Although for the arbour I did end up putting down some spare slabs so it didn’t sink into the ground (I saved some old ones that I lifted from my patio last year) and it was easier than I thought it would be, a couple of bags of building sand and a spirit level was all I used to get them laid nice and flat!

Garden makeover step by step
Garden makeover step by step

4. Garden makeover: DIY table 

You can see from the ‘before’ photo that my old tabletop was a wreck (I used the wrong wood when I tiled it) but the metal frame was still usable, although you can do this with any wood topped table really – just make sure to prepare/paint the wood suitably! If this is the first time you’ve met me you won’t know that I’m a bit obsessed with gold leaf (I’m an artist and gilder) so that had to be a part of my project, but of course you can just paint yours.

Garden table - before
Garden table – before

Tools & materials:

If you’re starting with a readymade table then you can skip this step, but for mine I needed to cut a new top from marine ply, and sand the edges smooth once cut to size (I did cut a hole for an umbrella using a flat drill bit from my set. I also need some seating for my table so I got 2 metal benches that came with untreated wood tops which were perfect for painting, and a pair of black rattan chairs by VidaXL to match.

Using the same paint I’ve used for everything in the garden I painted the table and bench tops (2 thin coats sanding in between) and once dry I got to work on my antique gold effect. At this point you could paint a design/stripes/stencil you name it – if you want to see more of my gold nonsense check out my Instagram.

Once you’re happy with your look then you need to seal it, otherwise it’s going to be a little rough and hard to clean, using a clear varnish. You can get clear outdoor varnish in different finishes, but my preference is gloss, just make sure the paint underneath is completely dry before you varnish anything! And voila! You’ve got a stunning bespoke seating area that’s hard wearing and easy to clean.

5. Garden makeover: Pizza Oven

We all like pizza of some kind (and if you don’t then we can’t be friends) but it’s a bit daunting to dive right in to using a pizza oven! This pizza oven from Outsunny is a great place to start for a beginner like me.  It’s not huge or permanent and there is no need for gas canisters as it’s a solid fuel burner.

Pizza oven from Outsunny
Pizza oven from Outsunny

It needs a stable and level base of course, and since I was putting mine on the grass, I set a few concrete slabs down with sand underneath just like I did with the arbour mentioned above. Once that’s all done it’s ready to light! I will admit that I burned one… 

6. Garden makeover: Making it comfy 

British weather can be a bit unpredictable as we know, so to make the space a bit more comfortable and cosy when the sun isn’t out I added a table to bio ethanol fire, some solar lights, some solar fairy lights – and of course a couple of rugs and throws.

And to top it all off… Giant bean bags. I mean who didn’t dream of having one as a kid! 

Garden makeover project by Bland Design
Black rattan chairs from VidaXL

So, there we have it – now I just need to scrub the paint off of my hands, rally up my friends and have a little gathering in my new lovely garden!

Did you enjoy this article from Bland Design on how to do a garden makeover in 6 easy steps? Why not read our tutorial on a DIY solar lamp made from pallets or even our pizza oven buying guide!

Are you doing a garden makeover too? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Even if you’ve never grown so much as a sprout, taking up vegetable gardening isn’t as hard as it sounds.  First of all, you’ll need information about the soil in your area and even the plot of land you will be using. You can do some detective work by checking with your local council, talking to neighbours, joining a local gardening group or searching online via a soil map [http://www.landis.org.uk/soilscapes/]. Try to find out as much as possible about the surrounding soil, plants and fruit-bearing plants and trees. Even weeds will tell you a lot about your future garden’s soil type. You should also look into local fruit tree varieties, insects, animals and birds. While you will want to encourage biodiversity, you will need to know how to prevent your garden from being eaten to shreds!

Your soil: the key to successful vegetable gardening

One way to learn about your soil is to take a sample and test it for yourself. You’ll need a spade to dig and a pail to hold the soil sample. There are different kinds of soil, such as chalky, clay, loamy, peaty, sandy and silty. Knowing which one you will be planting on is crucial for choosing the best vegetables.
That said, there are things you can do to change the texture and structure of your soil. For example, clay soil is fertile, but it’s also cold, wet and heavy to work. You must work it differently if you want to grow a range of seasonal vegetables.
Larger tools, such as a tiller or a soil miller, are normally used when you are working your soil for the first time.

To lighten heavy soil, you can add a bit of sand, wood ash and even calcium. Sandy soil, on the other hand, requires a great deal more watering and maintenance in the beginning. But tilling will be easier and you can plant earlier than you would with clay soils, which take longer to warm up.

Natural factors to consider before planting

When getting started with vegetable gardening, it’s important to think about the location of the garden, including its orientation in relation to the sun, prevailing wind, exposure and any trees planted close by. 

Vegetable gardening guide for beginners
© Henry & Co.

Some fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines, need a decent amount of sun, whereas others prefer cooler, wet environments, such as chard and certain lettuce varieties.  Certain plant varieties need shade to grow or even protection from the wind. It’s also worth thinking about a greenhouse for your garden. Not only do they extend how long you can grow your crops, but they are also great for protecting edible plants from being eaten by local wildlife.

Another crucial point to consider is choosing varieties that will adapt to your garden’s environmental constraints. Choose fruits and vegetables that grow quickly and are hardy enough to withstand disease and pests.

DIY permaculture vegetable gardening

DIY permaculture vegetable gardening
© Sincerely Media

Permaculture gardening—from “permanent agriculture”—is a style of gardening that aims to build a harmonious, self-sufficient ecosystem. It usually involves creating square or rectangular plant beds using wood from pallets, as long as the wood is free of chemicals or other surface treatments. You can also use a no-dig method known as “lasagne gardening,” which produces a rich soil full of biodiversity. It’s simple to achieve by alternating layers of green organic matter, such as grass clippings or shredded leaves, with layers of brown organic matter, such as dead leaves, plant matter, wood chips or even cardboard. The method breathes new life into decomposition and provides compost for future planting. Ensure you never walk on lasagne gardens or you will compact the layers and kill off the micro-organisms aerating your soil.

Plan out your planting

Now it’s time to design the layout for your garden. 
Larger plants must be put at the back, while smaller ones should go at the front where they can get enough sun and be protected by the larger plants. It’s also important to mix crops, as this makes it harder for harmful parasites and fungi to take over. 

Plan out your planting
© Peng Wang

Feel free to get creative by mixing flowers and herbs into your garden bed as well. For example, lavender, hyssop and thyme can be used for many purposes such as herbal teas, baking and seasoning.

Try to scatter your seeds somewhat loosely in the prepared soil instead of planting in a straight line. Another tip is something called “companion planting”. In essence, some plants work well together, while others can be mutually harmful. For example, potatoes and tomatoes, which belong to the nightshade family, cannot be grown together. It’s important to find the best companions for them when you want them to thrive in your garden.

Vegetable gardening guide for beginners
© Markus Spiske

Important first steps to get your vegetable garden started

When it comes to growing fruits and vegetables, the first steps are the easiest. Start by weeding your vegetable patch or bed with a hoe. After cleaning up your plot, you can choose to leave the weeds you’ve pulled on top of the crop to provide minerals through decomposition. However, if the weeds are seedlings or dropping many seeds, you will want to compost them instead or they will keep popping back up.  

Next, lightly rake your soil and start sowing seeds or planting. Some of the most popular things to grow in spring are lettuce leaves, such as lamb’s lettuce and spinach. 

When the season changes, you just need to repeat these steps for the fruits and vegetables that grow best from summer until autumn. 

© Jonathan Hanna

As a general rule, avoid planting the same crops in the same place every year. And by planting flowers in your vegetable garden, you’ll be providing an important source of food and sustenance for pollinating insects and birds. What’s more, they’ll make sure your garden isn’t overrun by hungry aphids and caterpillars! 

Prepare the soil for your vegetable garden
© Kelly Neil 

Last but not least, all your crops should be mulched. The aim is to work the soil as little as possible while harvesting as much as possible. Mulching allows you to keep moisture in your soil, so you won’t need to water the plants as much. It not only saves time but is also better for the planet!

Grow tomatoes in the garden
© Priscilla du Preez

Happy gardening and bon appétit!

© Nick Artman

Did you enjoy this guide on beginner vegetable gardening? Perhaps you’d be interested in reading our article on how to sow a lawn from seed or seeing our 5 tips on outdoor living space design.

Are you taking up vegetable gardening? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

The summer season is knocking at the door and after a wet winter, which made us spend longer hours indoors than we would have liked, we cannot wait to head outside and spend more time in the garden. If you have a garden or a terrace, you will already be envisioning yourself enjoying an al fresco aperitif with your family, or spending long hours outside catching up with friends and enjoying the good weather. So, don’t waste a second, it’s time to get to work! And at ManoMano we would like to offer you different decoration suggestions and ideas for creating an outdoor living space you’ll love.

Outdoor living space design ideas
Outdoor living space design ideas

Before you get started with the design of your outdoor area, you need to carefully study the space and choose the furniture to suit its specific dimensions. To get the most of it, ideally you would include a dining area as well as a relaxation area, or bring the two together if necessary.

Here are our top 5 tips on outdoor living space design:

  1. If your outdoor space is large, the ideal option is to include a dining table and chair set for at least six people, as well as comfortable sofas or armchairs to enjoy a nice evening. If the space is on the smaller side, you can always opt for an extendable table and folding chairs, which won’t take up a lot of space, but can allow you to host a few guests. A parasol or pergola can be a great way to create a shaded area. They can both protect us from the sun in the day time, as well as from the cold when evenings get chilly.
  1. A chill-out area, essential. They are ideal in the porch, the area near the pool, or a corner in the garden. Rattan armchairs, natural wood sofas or deck chairs will create a space for relaxation. If you have a small terrace, you can opt for fringed canvas hammocks, which can easily be put up and taken down. Another option is to put a hanging chair in a corner of the terrace.  They take up no space and provide your outdoor area with a summery and boho look.
Natural furniture adds a sense of calm to your outdoor living space
Natural furniture adds a sense of calm to your outdoor living space (C) Edvin Johannson
  1. Side and coffee tables, the perfect complement. Whether they are in your chill-out area surrounded by sofas and armchairs or next to your loungers, they are as aesthetic as they are practical when you want to serve an aperitif and enjoy those magical sunsets typical of the summer season. They are also quite useful in your gazebo or dining area, to leave extra drinks, glasses or dishes.
  1. Good lighting, essential. Lighting is a great way to set the ambiance, but in order to achieve this, you have to carefully study the location of the lights and the effect you want them to have. Size, distribution, design and intensity are key factors to consider when choosing the lighting for your outdoor area. It is therefore essential to distinguish between lights whose function it is to illuminate and mood lighting. Both are absolutely essential if you want to create a cosy and stylish area. While you can use wall lights or lamps hanging from the gazebo to provide enough light at night, indirect lights will create a magical atmosphere around you: fairy lights, spotlights with indirect lighting in strategic corners of the garden, or solar floor lamps can be your allies when decorating your outdoor area. 
Lighting is great for outdoor ambiance (C) Hannah Busing
Lighting is great for outdoor ambiance (C) Hannah Busing
  1. Small details you will fall in love with. Once you have the basic furniture in place, it’s time to fill your garden with small details that will provide both originality and style. We recommend that you opt for a natural tone palette and light textiles such as cotton or linen, with smooth textures and vibrant patterns reminiscent of the sea. Big candles for the table and lanterns on the floor, light blankets for chilly nights, and natural fibre ottomans, and last but not least, bamboo or jute rugs to frame and delimit the different areas.  

1. Festoon fairy lights 2. Hanging hammock 3. Jute rug 4. Retractable pergola

With the help of these handy tips, you will create a fantastic outdoor area in which to enjoy unique moments this summer. 


Are you designing your own outdoor living space? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Article written by Paula Silvagni

Passionate about interior design, Paula is a deco-coach and Instagrammer (@paula_silvagni_interiors). From her Instagram page, she shows the latest trends to decorate every corner of your home with style.