Great fence ideas can do so much for your outdoor space – enhancing privacy, creating different areas for socializing in, and even helping you grow climbing plants in your front or backyard. There are fence ideas for privacy and those that are specifically for making vegetable gardens look good. Whichever you choose, they can add a ton of interest to spaces big and small. Plus, they needn't be expensive to install, or too elaborate to DIY.
Whether you want a traditional rustic look, a more subtle, natural design, or a modern metal finish for a flash of contemporary cool, there are a vast choice of fence styles and materials out there. Just decide which best suits your needs, taste and budget. Then, all you need to do is install the very best garden furniture in your outdoor space, and you're good to go for summer.
Fence ideas for flair and function
A key feature of landscaping a yard, a fence will go a long way in keeping your outdoor space private, stylish and protected from (most) wildlife intruders...
1. Juxtapose a neutral fence with a flash of color
If you choose only the brightest plants and outdoor furniture for that matter, let your fence take a back seat with a natural, solid wood finish that will help all your bright decor do the talking. Your fence should blend in and disappear into your garden ideas and planting, not conflict with them.
2. A slatted wooden fence for modern patios
Slatted designs still increase privacy and make great patio ideas for more contemporary yard spaces. Accessorize and increase privacy further with tall, colorful planting around your fence to create a cool and very liveable section of your outdoor space.
3. Fence off your outdoor dining space with tall panels
If your yard is all about outdoor living then creating convivial zones that feel really relaxed and secluded is the right way to go. The dark vertical panels fence off this dining area perfectly and, the dark stain creates a gorgeous atmospheric backdrop beyond those tall trees, helping it all blend into the landscape.
4. Garden fence ideas for boundaries
To mark rear garden boundaries, solid timber fencing, such as closeboard or lap panel, is best. Closeboard, also known as feather edge, is composed of vertical feather-edged boards fitted to a sturdy frame of posts and horizontal rails, while lap fencing, also known as waney or overlap fencing, is made from waney-edge boards that are partially overlapped and fitted horizontally onto a timber frame.
Each has its own benefits: closeboard garden fencing is stronger and more weather-resistant, making it better suited to exposed sites. It can be bought as individual panels, or featherboards can be purchased separately and fitted to a frame, allowing for an uninterrupted stretch of fence. Meanwhile, lap fencing generally only comes in panel form and offers a more affordable option.
Understanding different types of fencing is important to the overall success of your garden design – make sure the fencing type you've chosen works for your backyard style.
5. Go with a garden trellis for zoning
If you want to screen off different areas within your yard, then strength and privacy won’t be as paramount, and you can afford to use a fence design that is less solid and more pretty. Traditional square or lattice trellis ideas are good choices for zoning, particularly for sectioning off a separate sanctuary area without blocking out sunlight. What’s more, it’s great for growing climbing plants against to create a living wall. Alternatively, slatted screening can be used as a garden fence for a more contemporary backdrop.
6. Make your garden fencing a design feature
Treat your garden fence as you would a feature wall in the home to add interest to vertical space. This could mean painting a section of it in a bold color, or using a patterned panel to create a focal point, as above. Explore garden screening ideas that really emphasize beautiful patterns and good materials for maximum effect.
7. Pick a pretty picket
Picket-style garden fencing provides a barrier, without cutting off your plot from the outside world – the low height invites interaction, while the gaps between pales give a glimpse of the garden beyond. This type of fencing design is great for sectioning off a vegetable patch for protection from pets and children. For increased privacy, grow a hedge behind the garden fence or allow climbers to tangle between the rails.
8. Paint a picket fence for rustic color
Match the picket fence to the gate and even a suburban terraced property can look like a rustic haven. Stick to a pale shade and match your planting to the color of the paintwork for a really light touch. Painted fences contrast nicely with natural garden path ideas.
9. Fence off a vegetable patch with a woven number
If you've got a thriving kitchen garden going, then add a little structure around it for better wind and even pest protection. Choose a fence material that is in keeping with nature, like woven hurdle fencing that is usually made from willow or hazel to give a beautiful rustic look to a yard. It's also cheap and super practical too, as in situ it can be shaped to fit curved boundaries, and its open structure makes it wind-resistant.
10. Uniform woven fence designs
If you are looking for full-height garden fence ideas, woven panels can provide strength and will protect plants from harsh winds, while letting sunlight through. Note that they are very appealing to climbing plants that may use the weave to anchor their tendrils. This fence design can be used to create a lovely living wall, but take care that the panels do not get damaged over time.
11. Take out the gate opening for fluidity
Instead of fencing your entire space and adding a garden gate, keep the space open to increase ease of movement around your backyard. Also, don't shy away from modern-looking slatted screen fencing designs. Inject a little boho glam into your traditional yard by slinging garden lights from them (the slats are perfect for hooking things on to) to create a twilight entertaining zone. They are also fab in the day as they create shade while allowing some light to stream through.
12. Consider metal fencing panels
The industrial look of this fence design works really well for period properties. Add an edge to a garden of pretty meadow flowers with a hardwearing metal fence. There are plenty to choose from, but we like cut-out designs that won't look too heavy in a traditional scheme.
13. DIY a colored fence for an affordable upgrade
Let your front garden fence bring color to your outdoor space in all seasons with a splash of brightly colored paint. You can buy panels that are pre-treated in colored stains, but otherwise, take advantage of the large range of the best exterior wood paints on the market and save cash with this easy DIY.
14. Build a boundary with climbing plants
Barely-there wire trellis can be used in vertical gardening to support a number of climbers including favorites like roses and clematis. While you may not want to use this fencing design for the external boundaries of your garden, it can help break your garden up into different areas and maximize the planting potential of your plot.
15. Choose iron railings for a classic front yard fence
Wrought iron railings are another garden fence idea that is frequently used as part of front yard landscaping ideas, to create a boundary that looks imposing from a security point of view, without blocking the view of the home. They are strong, can be painted in any color, are sure to keep the dog and kids secure, and finally, they require little maintenance.
16. Build a living wall
While not strictly speaking a fence, you can create a beautiful natural boundary with a retaining wall made from vertical oak sleepers. This fencing design will form a raised bed of sorts that can be planted with tall grasses for height, or low herbs and shrubs.
You can also build a very easy living wall with privet or box hedge, as in this exquisite example by J Montgomery Designs (opens in new tab).
17. Create a dramatic backdrop for planting
Looking for garden fence ideas that really show off your planting? One way to create this is to paint or spray your garden fence a dark color, such as deep blue or black. Then position light-leafed plants in front of it for a dramatic contrast.
18. Mix slatted and solid fencing
If you have a small patio that faces a busy street or driveway, you can make it more private by surrounding it with tall fencing, one of the most private fence ideas. The trick is not to go for solid fencing on all sides, to prevent an overly severe or boxed-in look. Instead, use a combination of slatted fencing that lets the light through, along with a panel of solid fencing where you need the most privacy.
19. Give your fence the feature wall treatment
Three gorgeous colors make this small fence pop. Perfect to frame a cozy reading spot – and imagine how great this would look on a grander scale too, if you have the space.
20. Be coherent with your color scheme
If you have a lot of light tones or another dominating hue on your patio area, stick to it with your fence ideas for added uniformity. What's more, it will enhance the space you have, making it feel lighter.
21. Create a private corner nook with your fencing
One of the most versatile fence ideas for privacy, a corner seating area can be styled in many different ways. From painted designs fences to attractive natural wood designs like this one by The London Gardener (opens in new tab), a corner fence is your opportunity to create a private outdoor living space that's exactly to your taste.
22. Grow flowering shrubs through your fence
To achieve a soft and organic look, always combine hard fencing with green fencing. Climbing plants like jasmine and clematis are obvious candidates for growing up a fence, but we also really like the white hydrangea peeking through a lattice fence in this romantic design by Ronni Hock Garden & Landscape (opens in new tab).
23. Install a low garden fence to mark out your vegetable garden
Fence ideas for gardens don't need to be tall. If you want your vegetable garden to look neat and defined, a low, slightly rustic fence is all you really need. A garden fence like this one, designed by Rock Spring Design (opens in new tab), will look really good in a larger backyard with a separate area for gardening.
Which wood is best for garden fencing panels?
Cedar is the ideal choice of timber for most fence ideas, but as pressure-treated pine is more affordable, it might be preferred and can be just as effective if well cared for. When you choose timber, remember to check how it has been treated. Fencing is commonly either dip-treated (where the wood is immersed in preservative), or pressure-treated where it is also treated with preservative but dried first. This is longer lasting but comes with a higher price tag. Dip-treated fences need periodic re-treating, so it might be worth investing in a paint sprayer for regular reapplications of a fence stain.
Fencing can be bought in two ways: you can either have a bespoke design built to specific dimensions, or purchase ready-made panels in standard sizes. Whichever option you choose, we have plenty of garden fence ideas on offer. However, which is best for you should be determined by the purpose and your property type.
How to install your garden fence
Erecting fencing is within the grasp of competent DIYers, but if doing it yourself, it’s best to ask someone else to help.
Fences, walls and gates do not require building regulations approval, but it is important that they are structurally sound. New fencing will not usually require planning permission either; however, if you live in a listed property, or in the curtilage of one, then you will need to seek listed building consent.
Our top garden fencing tips:
- Decide whether you want to set your posts in concrete or use post supports. Metal post supports are quicker and easier to install but can be weaker.
- Install your fencing by putting up the posts and panels alternately as you go down the line. Doing it this way should result in the correct spacing.
- When installing posts in the ground, ensure that at least a quarter of the total height of the post, ideally 60cm, is below ground level for stability.
- Use a spirit level as you go to check that your panels are level
- Prolong the life of your fence panels by using pressure-treated gravel boards below the panels.
- Fences on a slope need to step up or down the slope.
- Leave hedgehog holes under solid fences so these creatures can move from garden to garden.
- Use post caps to protect the timber from rain and create a more attractive finish.
- Use thicker, 100mm posts for heavy panels for additional strength.
What is the cheapest fence option?
Penny Swift (opens in new tab), author of more than 40 books about construction and home improvements, singles out chain-link or wire mesh as 'undoubtedly the cheapest fence option. It’s also reasonably easy to install, though it must be pulled taut and secure at the base so that pets and/or wildlife can’t dig their way in or out.'
'Depending on the look you want and your budget, you can use wooden pools or metal posts to secure the chain link. You can also opt for vinyl-coated chain link, which looks more attractive, typically lasts longer, but will cost a little more.'
How can you make a garden fence look nicer?
The best solution is also the easiest, according to Swift. She says, 'You can improve the appearance of ordinary chain-link fences by growing climbers and creepers over the fence. It takes a while, but will eventually form a much more solid, attractive screen.'
Another option if you have a limited budget is to 'insert narrow strips of wood through the links to make the fence more solid and less visually open. If your fence is made of wood make sure to maintain it otherwise it will deteriorate and start to look shabby.'
What can I put up instead of a fence?
'Walls are the obvious option to fences, but they do cost more', says Swift. 'The other traditional option is to plant a hedge, but that will take years to establish. Shade netting is another option. This relies on sturdy posts or poles to keep the netting in place. It can work visually but isn’t a good option for safety or security.'