How to Protect Landscape Timbers

Varnish protects exterior wood.
Varnish protects exterior wood. (Image: wood image by Alison Bowden from

Timber is a natural, versatile product that is frequently used in home landscaping. In order to keep your landscape timber looking great for years to come, apply a product to protect it from the elements. This can be a clear varnish or a stain that imitates a specific color or wood species. Consult a paint or landscaping supplies store for the product that best suits your needs, then apply the product to your outdoor timber in a few simple steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Stiff plastic brush
  • Paint scraper
  • Timber cleaning product
  • Sandpaper
  • Fine bristle brush
  • Exterior timber varnish
  • Synthetic paintbrush

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Clean the landscape timber surface thoroughly. Use a stiff plastic brush and a paint scraper to remove mold, sap, dust and loose fibers. Apply a professional cleaning product to remove all traces of oil and dirt. This step is crucial to ensure an even, long-lasting finish.

Sand the surface to give it a smooth, even finish. If you have an older painted surface, sand the timber until the paint is completely gone and you are left with exposed raw timber. If you have brand new timber, use a fine-grit sandpaper to remove surface imperfections. Always sand in the same direction as the grain. Brush the surface with a fine bristle brush to remove all sanding dust.

Mix your varnish product thoroughly with a clean, long, flat piece of spare timber.

Apply your product to the timber using a synthetic paint brush. Apply three coats with a minimum of three hours of drying time between each coat.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you install new landscaping timber, this process should be completed before the timber is installed.
  • If the finish looks dull or gray in the future, repeat this process to rejuvenate the surface.
  • If you use a stained varnish, keep the empty bottle so that you can purchase the same shade in the future.


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