Designers reveal the unconventional color you should paint your fence to make your plants pop

It’s time to sample a brave new hue in your garden – your plants will thank you for picking up the paintbrush

Black painted fence with dining set and green plants
(Image credit: Future / Sussie Bell)

When curating a color palette in the garden, it is only natural to begin with the kaleidoscopic flowers that kiss exteriors with their vibrant tones. However, the scheme doesn’t end at these beautiful blooms. Instead, interior and landscape designers alike recognize the power of the fence – a feature whose surprisingly invaluable tones may go overlooked. 

When looking for garden fence ideas, experts urge us to look beyond the conventional and experiment with a color that will accentuate your plants and ensure your palette appears instantly more vivid. It might surprise you to know, however, that the secret to a vibrant garden is found in the darkest of hues – black. 

painted fence in athenian black and olive by annie sloan

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

The color to paint your garden fence – according to designers 

If anybody can convince us to join the dark side, it is designer Abigail Ahern. The maximalist expert is celebrated across the interiors industry, but now, she has taken her expertise outside. Speaking in an Instagram video, Abigail shared her garden design ideas and revealed the exact color you should bring into your gardens is Farrow & Ball’s 'Railings'. 

Abigail suggests painting your exterior structures black, including fences, cabins, and sheds. She demonstrates the color’s power using a dark-painted cabin, whose dark paint gives the structure a camouflage effect. 

The discreet cabin means the ‘planting is the grandest thing in the garden. If you go white or light, you’re de-accenting all your planting. If you go darker, the planting is the king,’ Abigail says. 

Railings by Farrow & Ball on the walls of a dark bedroom

(Image credit: Railings No.31 Estate Eggshell)

‘The eye can’t have two things pulling it and giving it the same attention. So, we want to recede with all our structures – whether that’s cabins or fences or even pots. You want them to go away. Then the planting in the garden looks even more magical than it really is,' she adds. 

Abigail recommends using Farrow and Ball's exterior eggshell in Railings. ‘If you go dark, I think your planting will be elevated,’ she says. 

Should we go dark? 

Before we invest in a black hue, we’ve caught up with Creative Director of Form Plants, Alan Williams, who responds to Abigail’s suggestion. The designer ofThe Parsley Box garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 shared his paint suggestions for fences and shed ideas.

Dark painted fence and green bistro from Rockett St George on gravel

(Image credit: Rockett St George)

‘Darker colors pull towards you so create a feeling of enclosure or act as a fantastic foil for plants – think Farrow & Ball Railings against zesty limes and yellows of Euphorbia ceratocarpa, the blousy beauty of dahlias or the transparent elegance of grasses such as Stipa gigantea,’ Alan explains.

However, Alan is not entirely opposed to using a softer tone – especially in a smaller urban garden. Though these shades don’t emphasize your plants quite as intensely, they can create the illusion of space through a subtle fading effect.

‘Recessive colors fade into the background – think lavender, pale pink or light blue or grey – take on the properties of the surrounding colors and so can appear further away. Using these colors on boundaries can enhance the feeling of space and so are a good idea for courtyard garden ideas,’ Alan adds.

Black fence and urban garden seating with black fence and mirrors

(Image credit: Sussie Bell/Future)

If you’re an urban dweller working out how to plan your garden design, we think looking at your fence colors is a great place to start. In the meantime, we’re picking up a few tins of the best exterior wood paint for ourselves. 

Megan Slack

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Gardeningetc, Livingetc, and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.