Antiques guide: how to add patina to a garden statue

We explain how to give added character to garden ornaments

A garden statue of a young girl, weathered, surrounded by green foliage

Whether it’s a sundial, statue, or humble pot, an aged stone ornament encrusted with moss and the residue of age enriches and adds a mellow focus to any outdoor setting. From the earliest times, stone ornaments have played a key role in garden landscapes. The majority on the market today are made from artificial stone and date from the late 19th century onwards. Manufactured in moulds, ofen replicating earlier stone-carved originals, vintage ornaments may already have a weathered look and, if possible, are best lef to nature to enhance. But more recently made, and (heaven forbid) older ornaments that have had the patina cleaned of, can look incongruously new and out of place and, if you are too impatient to wait for the efects of the weather and seasons, there are ways to speed things up and transform them into something glorious.


You Will Need

  1. Black acrylic or emulsion paint
  2. Water
  3. Yoghurt
  4. Well-rotted manure, garden compost or soil
  5. Gloves
  6. Bucket
  7. Decorator’s paint brush
  8. Moss
  1. Make a very weak solution of water and black acrylic or water-based emulsion paint (to resemble dirty water) and apply to the surface of the ornament. Allow the wash to dry, then reapply if you wish to darken certain areas further.
  2. Once you are happy with the base colour, mix yoghurt in a bucket with equal amounts of water and manure, compost or soil (the quantity will depend on the size of your ornament) to create a thick and murky paste.
  3. Wearing gloves, use a paint brush to apply the paste generously to the ornament, paying particular attention to any contours, creases and folds where the moss would naturally take most vigorous hold.
  4. Rub the surface with a handful of moss to spread the spores.
  5. Carefully place the ornament in a moist and shady spot to encourage the aging process – under a tree, in a thicket of overgrown grass or even in a hedge are perfect places for moss to grow.
  6. Burying small ornaments in the ground, or submerging them in a muddy pond before you start the aging process, are alternative ways of hurrying things along.