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How to Choose Art for Your Backyard or Patio

Without a question, the most rewarding and enlightening part of running this business is connecting with our customers.  Because so many are intrigued by our concept of custom outdoor art prints, they find themselves asking a lot of questions – we love that!

The biggest questions go something like this “I really like the idea but what would I actually put up in my backyard?  I’ve never given that any thought”, followed by “Okay, but where would I put it?”.

As this week marks the beginning of the season of Getting Outdoors, I thought it was perfect timing to address some of these questions.

Before starting Off the Wall On the Fence, our first customers were, well . . . us!  We had just renovated our small Toronto backyard, put up a new fence, and found ourselves staring at a blank canvas.  We had purchased new outdoor furniture, even built our own outdoor tequila bar, but we really felt like something was missing.  We are art lovers – our walls are filled with originals and prints, all of which have real meaning to us.  We’ve been known to stalk an artist or a painting online for a year before purchasing it, and there have been many times we would pick up an inexpensive but charming print on impulse while walking by a home décor store.

When we looked out on our brand new empty fences, the whole cycle started again.  John had received a very cool postcard in the mail of an old, rusty Toronto streetcar that he blew up to over 6 feet wide and had it printed. It became our first outdoor artwork.  That was in 2016 and it’s still a focal point of our backyard.  Since then, we have created a gallery of sorts that includes reproductions of talented Canadian artists, photographs of warm beach sunsets and dramatic close ups of colourful flowers.

So, with that experience under our belt, here are a few tips from customer questions that you might find helpful as you consider what and where and how you might place your very own new, stunning weatherproof outdoor prints.

“How can I make my old fence appealing without the cost of replacing it?”

How many times have you peered out to your backyard and cringed at that weathered, slightly lean-to fence that went up in 1994.  You’re not ready to replace it but can’t stand looking at it anymore.  An art print creates illusion and draws the eye away from the fence.  It can add colour, dimension and warmth without taking up additional space, which is pretty handy if you’re living in the city where real estate is at a premium!

“I love Jim and his nightly barbeques next door, but could I be seeing a little too much of him these days?”

Since the COVID pandemic many people are choosing to invest in their indoor and outdoor spaces to make them more livable since they’re spending so much time at home.  When it comes to your backyard or patio, you can often find yourself awfully close to or in constant sightlines with your neighbours.  And even though we know you love them, as a friend has said to me many times, “good fences make good neighbours”.  Our art prints, which come in six standard sizes, are large enough to deliver privacy as well as beauty, without any complex construction.

“How do I make MY backyard MY space?”

Often times, outdoor accessories such as fire tables, hurricane lamps and outdoor rugs, though fabulous (I happen to have all of those things) they are also generic.  We wanted to enable our customers to create a truly personal space.  So we developed a simple online tool to upload pictures right off your phone.  It only takes minutes but believe me, the impact is long-lasting.   We’ve had customers order everything from super cool outdoor bar signs to Tuscan landscapes, to their beloved pets.  It’s been amazing, especially because so many of our customers have been kind enough to share the stories that accompanied their pictures.  It’s so rewarding to know we play a small part in bringing their passions and memories to life.

“Isn’t putting art outdoors a little weird?”

I know this is a ground-breaking thought, but art is a subjective thing.  Whether you love abstract or impressionIST, it’s all about what speaks to you.  We think nothing of placing fine art pieces (original or reproductions) in our home but how many people do you know who feature their own outdoor gallery?  Our passion for art led us to launch Artists Outdoors, a family of incredibly talented Canadian artists who have allowed us to exclusively print their works for outdoor spaces.  It’s been such a pleasure to get to know them and their work and we look forward to growing the family and their online galleries over time.

“Okay but what in the world would I hang outside?”

That question, heard over and over again, is the reason why we created our Collections Gallery. Understanding that there are times you need to see the right picture to be inspired, we built a gallery featuring hundreds of beautiful photos of everything from flowers and travel to buddhas and old masters, attempting to leave no inspiration stone unturned.  We even partnered with an image bank inside our custom tool where you can search literally thousands of images for no additional cost.

“Can you hang art on a fence? What about a brick wall?”

Yes to both questions.  We wanted to make sure our art prints could be affixed to multiple surfaces so we put together a hanging hardware package that includes installation essentials such as a helpful hanging template, black or silver standoffs and screws.  If you want to hang your art on a brick or concrete surface, all you need to do is add masonry anchors from your local hardware store. It’s that simple.

“Can’t I just hang a canvas wrapped print?  I have a few sitting around in the basement?”

The answer to that is yes, of course you can.  Many people do hang their canvas wrapped prints outdoors.  They usually look great for a season, but there are real challenges in going that route.  Even “outdoor prepped” canvas wrapped prints (see my blog “How do you make outdoor art weatherproof?” that talks about this), will weather relatively quickly. It’s usually recommended that they come inside during Fall, Winter and early Spring seasons since rain, wind, and snow can create a lot of damage.  Even in the summer, the inks will start to fade in direct sunlight.  So, a canvas wrapped print might last a season or so but not much longer.  We have designed our prints to purposefully withstand all weather conditions – that means 4 seasons with sun, rain, heat, cold, wind and snow.  And we guarantee them outdoors for 5 years. There’s an added benefit to that when you look out of your window in the middle of January and lose yourself in a warm, sunny beach.  It certainly helps me get through the darker winter days.

“I like the idea but still not sure what to do.  Can’t I just talk it through with someone?”

Okay, this is the favourite question of all!  We are here and available answer all of your questions and to help inspire you with ideas.  And if you want to do something special that you don’t see on our site – we would love to work with you on your unique, custom solution. Feel free to call us, email us or live chat with us on the website.   

Lisa Hartley, Founder of Off the Wall On the Fence