Garden fence ideas: 28 ways to update your boundaries with panels, paint, and more
Freshen up your plot and add extra privacy with these garden fence ideas
Every plot can benefit from good garden fence ideas in one way or another. They're a classic choice for marking the boundaries of your outdoor space – whether that's defining your front garden, screening off your neighbor's patio, or distinguishing different 'rooms'.
However, fences aren't just for practicalities or privacy. They can be a stunning feature in themselves. There's plenty of choice when it comes to materials, size, and color, meaning you can opt for a style that will truly complement your garden. From rustic charm to contemporary designs, you can be sure that there's a fence out there that's perfect for your space.
To help you choose, we've rounded up plenty of garden fence ideas. So, if your existing fence is looking dated, dull or dilapidated, or if you just fancy an update this season, get ready to get inspired.
28 gorgeous garden fence ideas for zoning your space and upping the privacy levels
There are all sorts of backyard fences to choose from for your landscaping ideas. This mix will help you decide on the best one for your space.
1. Keep it sweet with soft pastel stripes
You can give lots of different fence types a modern makeover by opting for pretty pastel stripes. The icy blue and baby pink tones in this scheme are sure to delight any onlooker and make the perfect backdrop for summer socializing outdoors. It's a particularly wonderful way to soften the impact of a tall, solid, privacy fence.
A look like this brings instant character to the space and looks lovely when paired with soft textiles nearby in complementary hues. Meanwhile, the neatly clipped hedge and lawn in front add a visually pleasing splash of contrasting green to the zone.
Recreate the design, and your patio or courtyard will instantly stand out from the crowd.
2. Choose a more sculptural approach
This fence, spotted at Chelsea Flower Show, is anything but average. It's built from sustainable oak that has been hand carved to depict a intriguingly waved pattern. And, we think you'll agree that it makes a real feature point for the space while encapsulating an essence of natural beauty.
It's a great way to screen off a section of a plot to provide a boost of shelter and garden privacy. Plus, it provides an attractively textural canvas for the vibrant planting, featuring the likes of Hydrangea paniculata, Miscanthus sinensis, and Verbena hastata.
3. Go for a smart black backdrop
This sturdy black fence is a perfect choice for chic urban living. Painted in dark tones, it feels effortlessly cool.
A neat row of espaliered trees adds an extra level of privacy up top, and brings a fresh pop of green against the dark hue. Further planting below continues to lift the zone, adding to the welcoming vibe.
Pale tones tie together the rest of the space, offering a striking contrast to the surrounding screen. Meanwhile, a scattering of cushions provides an accent of pink – a playful finishing flourish. A perfect approach if you're looking for modern garden ideas.
4. Create a contemporary backdrop with a slatted style
Many traditional garden fences are a series of uprights, but if you want a contemporary look to suit a more modern garden, swap to a design that majors in horizontal lines.
Not only will it give your plot an instant update, but it can also create the illusion of a wider or longer space as the eye is drawn along the horizontals. For this reason, it's a great approach if you’re looking for small garden ideas.
This example provides a stunning backdrop to a modern seating space. We love how it complements the cool gray walls and pared-back planting nearby, while festoons strung up high will offer a welcoming vibe when night falls.
5. Layer up your fence with a decorative screen
Do you have a dull fence that’s crying out for a bit of pizzazz? If you don’t fancy whipping out the paints to give it a makeover, this is a great (and less time-consuming) alternative approach.
This Corten steel panel is right on-trend, offering a warm, rusted patina to the scene that works well alongside the black planter and architectural flowers and foliage. Just one or two panels are all that's needed to create a chic focal point for a patio and will instantly give even the plainest of fences an elevated update.
Looking for more garden fence decoration ideas? Our feature has plenty of styles to get you inspired.
6. Up the level of greenery in your garden by attaching a trellis
Trellis ideas for gardens are another way to give an existing fence a bit more of a boost. Plus, they're super affordable – in fact, if you're handy with a bit of DIY, you can even build your own.
They are a simple way to create a living wall effect and can be adorned with all sorts of pretty climbing plants. Opt for a rose for a cottage garden scheme, or perhaps some tumbling ivy or a scented jasmine is more your style. Our best plants for fence line guide has plenty of picks.
Whatever you choose, think about how it will complement the fence itself – this deep green foliage looks gorgeous against the timber behind.
7. Match your garden buildings
We're head-over-heels for this chic urban plot. It's a brilliant example of how a small space can be transformed into a stylish retreat for relaxing with friends and family. And that garden office is the ideal addition for working from home in style – it's no surprise they’ve had a huge surge in popularity recently.
The charcoal-hued privacy fence brings the whole plot together, matching the raised beds and the office structure, and allowing nearby colors of textiles and plants to stand out. Again, a string of festoon lights brings extra warmth to the scene.
8. Open up the view by switching to glass
Not every fence needs to add privacy. Sometimes, you may just want a barrier to define the boundary of a zone.
Glass designs are a brilliant solution for opening up the space and making it feel bigger and will allow you to admire the view – whether that's of other sections of your garden or beyond.
They work particularly well if you're after pool fence ideas, as seen here. And if you did want the area to feel a little more exclusive, but still want to allow plenty of light into the space, you could always opt for a frosted version.
9. Complement rattan furniture with woven styles
For a more naturalistic look, woven panels made from willow or hazel are a fabulous choice for fences and garden screening ideas.
They're great for small gardens – just opt for one panel or two to provide all the shelter and privacy you need for your patio. Style alongside rattan furniture for a pleasing mix of tactile textures.
Colorful sofa cushions will bring a vibrant touch to the scene – these blue tones above are perfect for a summery setup. Pale gray and cream would make an elegant alternative. Don't forget a string of festoon lights overhead for a cozy ambiance when dusk falls.
10. Integrate a fence with your outdoor kitchen
More of us are using our gardens as an extension of our living space these days, so it's no surprise that outdoor kitchen ideas are having a moment. After all, who doesn't love a good BBQ out in the fresh air?
Backyard fence ideas can be surprisingly handy for alfresco cooking – see this example above to demonstrate. Its generous height allows ample room for sleek horizontal rails – ideal for hanging utensils and even a spice rack.
In a contemporary gray hue, it mirrors the built-in grill and silver-toned plant pots, creating a fuss-free but totally stylish scene. A trellised section up top will balance out the look, allowing light and air to flow through. Try adding a climbing foliage plant nearby, too.
11. Set the scene for your container garden
Love to grow your plants in pots? Then garden fence ideas can create a beautiful background to your display.
This soft blue hue is wonderfully soothing and looks gorgeous against the mix of pastel-colored flowers and trails of foliage in front. The use of shelves elevates the look further, making the most of the vertical space for a real focal point.
We've got lots more inspiration in our container gardening ideas feature.
12. Match it to your pergola
This modern setup revolves around the striking pergola, which not only provides shelter, but is also a sturdy support for the hanging egg chair.
To add an extra boost of privacy and make the scene feel cozy and intimate, a smart black fence lines the zone. Painted to match the pergola, the furniture, and even the patterned paving, it recedes into the background rather than trying to take the spotlight. What's more, it provides a support for plenty of climbing plants.
13. Get playful with paint
Backyard fence ideas can add a fun accent to a plot if you're willing to get creative. Here, a traditional picket-style design has been given a playful twist by painting each pale in a different hue. It's super simple to recreate the look, just remember to opt for complementary tones for a considered vibe.
Use around the perimeter of your plot, or to section your patio from your lawn – we think it would make a good addition to family garden ideas.
14. Combine with raised beds for a softer look
Garden fence ideas are commonplace for front yards, defining edges of plots from the world beyond. And, to boost the privacy levels and for added security, ramping up the height can be a good idea. But as this example shows, a tall fence, even when in a dark tone, needn't look severe.
Adding plenty of greenery in front is key, with the help of some raised garden beds. These rustic wooden structures shown above look truly beautiful adorned with cascading foliage, structural alliums, and clipped evergreen shrubs.
A line of silvery Himalayan birches finishes the setup well, whilst providing extra screening between the house and the road. They also make a striking contrast against the inky-hued pales behind.
15. Try a dark green scheme
Using dark green tones on modern garden fence ideas can create a subtle urban-jungle-like vibe. It's an understated choice that feels grown-up and on-trend, and will allow any accessories in front to stand out.
In this mini outdoor kitchen, wooden chopping boards and other natural textures add to the naturalistic vibe, whilst pops of bright orange draw the eye. Oversized festoon lights overhead add to the ambiance.
16. Contrast with accessories
It's easy to update a tired looking fence with a smart coat of the best exterior wood paint. But, it doesn't always have to steal the limelight. Allow it to become a chic backdrop instead, to make your garden furniture and planting really pop.
Go light and bright to make your plants stand out, whilst gray or other muted shades are a strong choice for a sophisticated, urban look. Or, if you really want to turn heads, try going for two tones like in this example above.
17. Create cohesion with your garden fence ideas
Match your garden fence to your decking ideas, and even your seating, for a pleasantly harmonious vibe.
Pair with a complementary color palette for extra wow, and add accessories to match, such as outdoor cushions or rugs. It's a contemporary look which will instantly elevate your space.
18. Go for cut-out panels
Growing plants up a fence takes time, but adding organic pattern as part of the structure can create an instant and durable feature.
This fence would work on a boundary or between different areas of the garden. The decorative panel will allow glimpses through for a new view of planting beyond the fence, without surrendering privacy.
19. Try a fence of lights
Fences don't have to be solid – particularly if they're being used as subtle garden divider ideas rather than to stop the dog getting out, or the neighbors encroaching on your turf.
Follow the lead of this design which combines shepherd’s hooks that you put into the ground with festoon lights. They're ideal alongside a path, as seen here. But, they would look just as good as a divider for an alfresco dining area, creating a magical ambiance as night slowly falls.
You can find more solutions for outdoor lights in our garden lighting ideas feature.
20. Swap to metal fencing
Wrought iron railings can complement an older property. But, there are less period-style metal designs available too for your garden fence ideas.
These panels are made from Plastisol coated zinc for a colored finish that will last.
And, if you want to let more light into your plot, take a lead from this garden and incorporate lattice panels into your fence design.
21. Create intimacy with a dark shade
If you're going to use an area of your garden for entertaining at night, why not use a dark hue for your garden fence ideas? It'll make the zone far more intimate and cocooning – just like a snug inside your house.
Stick to garden furniture ideas in a lighter finish though, so that they stand out against your dark backdrop.
22. Work with tonal color
Painting a fence in blocks of different hues in the same way you might treat a wall indoors can add interest to your garden's vertical surfaces.
Here, tonal shades have been used to create the horizontal blocks. The look is eye-catching, but they're earthy tones and complement the outdoor situation beautifully. You could get the same smart but organic effect with shades of green, too.
23. Screen with pattern
Whether it's to divide different outdoor rooms, obscure a less-than-lovely feature, or even for a boundary of the garden that isn't overlooked by a neighbor, a screen is a top choice for garden fencing ideas.
You'll find both abstract patterns and naturally themed designs on offer, but we like the way this foliage design draws the eye upward. These leafy screens are laser cut from aluminum for lasting good looks, and would look lovely bordering wildlife garden ideas.
24. Boost privacy with tall reed screens
If there's too much on show between you and next door, reed screening is a cheap fence idea that can provide the concealment you need in a hurry. You can use it as a cover for chain link fencing or attach it to fence uprights with ties or staples.
It can also be a great solution for patios with too much direct sun, to provide welcome shade.
25. Divide a patio with trellis
Choose a trellis style for your garden fence ideas and you can design the level of privacy to suit. Trellis will add an attractive divider if you leave it as it is, and let light through from one area to another. Alternatively, you can maximize its potential as a screen by growing a climber from top to bottom – our best climbing plants have lots of great picks.
Using planters to add greenery to half height so you're not on show to the neighbors when you're sitting at a table or on a lounger is another option.
26. Introduce curves to the tops of your fence
Think about bringing in different lines with your fencing. A curved finish can look softer than a design that's straight across the top, and can look sympathetic to a country-style garden.
This design has a lattice finish to let in a little more light through the top, too, and is made from FSC certified wood.
27. Mix up your materials for a bespoke look
Try materials and shapes that break from the norm to screen a seating or dining zone and add decorative interest to the garden.
This one features glass panels, which bring in texture but still permit light to come through, as well as snapshotting the views.
If you’re a keen entertainer, you could think about putting up a shelf-style structure using timber or sleepers instead. That way, it can be used as surface to set down glasses while people are socializing, or for plants in pots.
28. Accessorize a plain fence
Not all of us will be living in a property where we have the luxury of updating our garden fences in the same way as those of us who own our own house. If you're living in a rental space then the landlord may not be too keen on you splashing your personal touches around.
And depending on your finances, a fence transformation could be an expense which you can't justify at the moment. But don't despair, you just need to get a little creative and think outside the box.
A colorful ribbon curtain can be made cheaply and easily hung from a fence. The result is a joyful festival-vibe which can be removed and taken with you if you move house. You could also try adding pops of color with painted photo frames attached to the fence with single nails.
Can I install a fence myself?
In short, it's best to get a professional in to install your garden fence ideas. 'Installing a fence requires skill, care, knowledge about the ground conditions, product insight, and attention to detail and safety,' explains Leigh Barnes of Jacksons Fencing. 'Poorly installed fencing can result in a lack of security and stability, especially when the weather turns for the worse.
'It could even lead to problems with your neighbors and your local council if poorly or improperly installed. We would recommend, if you are installing fencing yourself without the use of a professional, to research advice on boundary disputes.' Leigh also suggests to look into common garden boundary permissions and laws when installing fencing, gates, or garden decking. One of the benefits of hiring a professional fence installer is that they will already know the laws, best practice, and how to appropriately install the system, he explains.
However, if you're feeling confident, or are looking to replace a single panel or two, then our guide on how to install fence panels is a good place to start.
What fence lasts the longest?
'Depending on the end function the fence may serve, there are several fence materials available,' says Leigh Barnes of Jacksons Fencing. 'They all serve different purposes and so you may feel overwhelmed with options. As you compare wood fences, vinyl fences, wrought iron fences, and more, it's important to think about longevity and what your requirements from the fence really are. This will help you find the best investment for your short-term and long-term goals.'
However, Leigh states that whatever fence you choose, correctly-sourced materials and high-quality installation are key factors for ensuring that it lasts.
Take wood, for example. Wooden or timber fencing is the most common type of fencing, says Leigh, and it fits many different types of settings regardless of a home's style or neighbourhood. If properly maintained and treated, it can can last for 30 years or longer depending on the environment it is installed into.
'Pressure treated softwood timber which is destined to be used outside in the ground, such as fence posts, will in most cases outperform a comparable product that has not been pressure treated,' Leigh says.
What's more, you need to think about the impact that weather can have on your fence. 'A full assessment of the site is vital, taking into consideration factors like terrain and local weather patterns, because often poorly installed fencing will result in wind damaged fencing that needs replacing,' Leigh continues. 'For timber fencing to stand the test of time, the initial fence installation involves thorough preparation, safety precautions and detailed aftercare.'
Looking for more ways to make your garden features last? Find out how to clean outdoor furniture and keep it in top condition with our guide.
Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes and gardens and loves investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper.
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