Garden fence ideas – 23 stylish ways to define your boundaries

Enhance your boundaries and add privacy with the best garden fence ideas for large and small yards

garden fence ideas
(Image credit: Jackson's Fencing/Stark & Greensmith/Future)

Demarcating the boundaries of our properties, best garden fence ideas are an essential part of homes. 

With a wide range of garden fence ideas on offer, there is so much a well-chosen garden fence can do for your outdoor space. Style is just as important as the quality, so choosing the right material to fit with your other backyard ideas is essential. 

'Large features like fences also underpin or can dictate a particular design style or theme, so it’s important to get them right,' says gardening expert Matt James. Once you've chosen the right design for your space, learning how to build a fence for your backyard will enable you to bring your favorite garden fence ideas to life.

Inspiring garden fence ideas

Picket or rustic post and rail garden fence ideas suit more traditional country schemes, a woven willow fence has a natural, rustic look, whereas crisp horizontal louvered fencing complements more modern or urban designs. However, there is much more to choosing garden fence ideas than simply selecting a design you like.

Installing a fence is a great garden privacy idea, but also, according to experts, one of the best home security tips.  'Before you build a new fence, there are a number of key things to consider. Why are you installing it? Is it for privacy, security, to restrict children, pets or livestock, or simply to demarcate your space from your neighbors?' explains gardening expert Matt James. 'Being clear on this will determine the height, material, construction, required degree of privacy of any boundary and, of course, the price.'

Fences also offer a more practical and cost-effective alternative to both garden wall ideas and the best privacy hedges and will require minimal maintenance for a number of years. 

1. Go classic with a picket fence

classic cottage garden plants in best cottage garden plants

(Image credit: Future/Clive Nichols)

Given their low height, picket fences are the classic choice for front gardens. Not only do they add to the curb appeal of your front yard landscaping ideas, but they also offer protection as they enable you to see beyond your home's border. Furthermore, they won't block the sightlines of pedestrians and drivers – often a requirement of the law. Complete the look by pairing your picket fence with garden gate ideas.

Picket fences are traditionally made from wood – typically painted white – though there has recently been a rise in low-maintenance vinyl designs. Installing a vinyl fence is also much easier than the wooden or metal equivalents and requires very little maintenance. 

2. Choose hit and miss fence to avoid having a best side

garden with hit and miss fencing and dining area

(Image credit: Jacksons Fencing)

One of the primary motivations for installing garden fence ideas is to improve your garden privacy. Traditional fences have a good side and a bad side and it is common courtesy that the 'good' finished side faces your neighbor's garden, with the 'bad side' facing your own. However, it's unlikely that you'll want the 'bad' side impacting on your carefully curated flower bed ideas – especially when you paid for the fence – and this can cause disputes between neighbors. 

Avoid potential conflict by opting for hit-and-miss fencing. Designed to look great from both sides, the fence’s slatted design allows air to pass through the gaps, making it more durable during windy weather.

3. Consider wildlife when opting for your fences

front of edwardian home with white picket fence and rose arch

(Image credit: Tamsyn Morgans)

Consider wildlife when choosing your garden boundaries. Hedges are the ultimate boundary for wildlife garden ideas and suit a cottage-style garden. Opt for plants like hawthorn and box and you’ll see them buzzing with wildlife come spring. However, hedges can be expensive to plant and will require maintenance. 

Wooden fences offer another natural choice. ‘One of the most important aspects is to ensure that wildlife can move freely between gardens, so leaving a gap under fences or cutting a hole around the side of a CD in the base of the fence is really important,’ explains Stuart Edmunds, mammal expert at Shropshire Wildlife Trust. 

4. Replace your fence with a work of art

decorative corten fence along garden boundary with hedges

(Image credit: Stark & Greensmith)

Fences don't have to be made of wood, in fact, there are lots of alternative materials that let you get a little more creative with your garden boundaries.

One of our favorite garden fence ideas is Corten steel, which is available in a range of styles and colors. Designed to naturally weather, the finished look of a Corten steel fence will look unique to your garden and the climate in which you live – giving a textured and natural look that is sure to complement your garden decorating ideas.

5. Add a fence around your pool

glass pool fence

(Image credit: Aquaview)

If you have a pool, then pool fence ideas are a must. In some parts of the country, they are a legal requirement, but even if they are optional where you live they are a great way to ensure your home is safe. We love the idea of adding a glass fence to your pool patio ideas, not only does it make the space safer but it also helps to zone your garden without compromising the aesthetics of your space.

6. Use fencing as a backdrop for built-in seating

Garden fence and pergola used to create built-in outdoor seating area

(Image credit: Future)

Horizontal fencing makes a sleek modern backdrop to this built-in outdoor seating area. 

Positioned in the corner of the garden, it has an enclosed feel due to the addition of a pergola.

One of our favorite fence decorating ideas, there are so many stylish pergola ideas that can provide shade and vertical interest in the garden, while this scheme gives a sense of a room outdoors.

Integral raised beds filled with low-maintenance evergreens, and climbing plants give the cozy corner a lush, relaxing feel.

Finish off with hanging lighting and an outdoor fire, to keep the atmosphere going into the evening.

7. Add low trellis fencing for a cottage garden look

Low trellis fencing in cottage garden

(Image credit: Joe Wainwright)

If you are adding fencing but want to retain the view, then a low-level trellis ideas are one of the best garden fence ideas for a traditional scheme.

Allowing you to define an area, while supporting and displaying beautiful plants, a trellis design is also the perfect complement to your cottage garden ideas.

'There are lots of different styles, colors and finishes available; just carefully note the size of the holes before you buy,' says James. 

'The wider the gaps are, the more you can see behind, unless you allow climbers to scramble up through, which for many is exactly the point of using them.'

8. Integrate a water feature into your fence

Modern horizontal garden fence with integrated water fountain

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Add a unique design feature to the garden with a statement water feature, integrated into the fence.

Water feature ideas are a fantastic way of introducing water to a yard that isn't large enough for a pond.

With its minimalist horizontal panels, this louver fence feels sleek and modern, making it a calming backdrop for the sight and sound of trickling water. It's reminiscent of zen Japanese garden ideas.

All of the plumbing is hidden behind the fence, so it's also a very neat solution.

9. Build a ranch-style post and rail fence

Post and rail fence with wheelbarrow

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

The classic post and rail fence is an easy, cost-effective solution to adding a boundary to your yard.

Traditionally used for containing livestock, this style of fence has all the charm of a country ranch. But, crucially, it doesn't impede on views, making it perfect if your property borders an attractive area, such as a woodland.

It's also a great solution if you have a particularly large yard to fence off.

10. Break up your fence with a living panel

Trellis fence panel living wall

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

You may have seen living wall ideas in the past, but did you know the solution can also be applied to garden fences?

'Living green walls are a common sight in towns these days, with plants growing to cover expanses of concrete and stretching to the sky in the urban environment. They are also increasingly being used in the home garden to transform walls and fences,' says gardening expert Leigh Clapp.

'Greening up the vertical plane is especially useful in small gardens, courtyards and balconies to use every perspective.'

To replicate this idea, you will need to need to attach a green wall pocket system to your fence – these are available at Amazon. This can then be densely planted with long-living evergreens. Bear in mind they need to be plants with shallow roots, as space will be limited.

11. Enclose an outdoor dining area with a low fence

Outdoor dining area bordered by low fencing

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

As well as defining the borders of your yard, a garden fence can also be used to demarcate a patio or give your outdoor dining ideas a boost.

Designing your garden in this way makes seating areas feel more secluded and gives a visual break on the landscape.

A low, open fence is ideal for maintaining views while also helping to support tall plants, although a louvered or close-panel fence allows for denser planting or even the addition of raised beds.

12. Make a plant theater display for your fence

Plant display theater containing herbs attached to garden fence

(Image credit: Future)

Fences don't have to be plain, unimaginative expanses. Bring them to life with climbing plants or, as in this design, a plant theater.

Painted to match the fence, the theater can be used to display small potted plants, such as traditional primula auriculas – popular in the Victorian era – succulents or herbs.

Using terracotta pots adds a warm, rustic feel to the display.

13. Set up horizontal louvered fencing

Slatted garden fence with a black sunlounger, trees and long grasses.

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

Make a statement with horizontal louvered screening, instead of a traditional fence. It creates a designer look commonplace in show gardens, and the timbers are ideal for supporting plants. 

'If a solid fence would block out too much sun or you just want to create a little shade and privacy for a garden dining space, contemporary louvres are ideal,' says James. 

'They let in light and offer privacy while still blocking views, but unlike trellis they’re visually more substantial.'

Horizontal screens often go to the ground, but they can also be used to add height to an existing wall.   

If budgets are tight, there’s no need to install this type of fencing on every boundary; you could incorporate it into your patio ideas, or only use it close to the house.  

Use fencing like this to disguise untidy or unloved areas of the garden – it’s ideal for hiding recycling bins, compost heaps and the like. 

14. Install vertical fencing

Garden fence with beehives in front

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

A sturdy, mid-budget option, individual vertical timbers are attached one at a time to cross-supports. It eliminates gaps, and is one of the best garden ideas for privacy. It also allows you to custom build to fill whatever space you have.   

Cut down on labor costs by buying pre-made panels. Attach them to timber posts in the same was as any other fence panel.  

If you want to add an element of greenery to your garden fence ideas, then you can attach wire or mesh to the fence as a support for climbing plants or trees to espalier to give a distinctly modern feel. 

15. Consider trellis options

Trellis ideas with painted green trellis panel

(Image credit: Future / Polly Wreford)

Panels with integrated trellis ideas might offer slightly less privacy initially, but the open, airy feel is undeniably elegant and perfect in small gardens, and if you can borrow a view from beyond your space will feel larger, too. 

They also present an ideal opportunity for climbers to interweave and create a more natural, green screen from neighbors. 

You could, of course, simply top a standard-height fence panel or wall with trellis. This adds height without compromising too much on light. 

Either way, once climbers are established and growing, they will break up the look of the solid wood and help the fence to merge with the rest of the garden.

16. Think about windier days

An example of garden fence with large hydrangeas and climbing plants growing up it.

(Image credit: Future / Colin Poole)

Unless you have a sheltered garden, a solid fence will suffer more than those with open trelliswork. 

The wind can blow through the holes of trellis, rather than battering it – which will ultimately weaken the fence.

If the wind has already wreaked havoc on your garden fence ideas, then discover how to fix a leaning fence with our expert guide.

17. Add a coat of paint

Fence painted dark brown with shower behind

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Outdoor paint will not only make your garden fence ideas look good, but it will also give the timber added protection, too.

There are plenty of colors to choose from when it comes to painting a fence, but wood generally looks better in more natural shades. Pale colors will lighten a dark garden, while darker colors allow the fence to fade into the background and make a great backdrop to planting.  When choosing your garden color schemes be sure that you know which fence colors to avoid.

18. Go for an entirely natural garden fence

A natural wicker garden fencing idea behind a white parasol and white metal table and chairs.

(Image credit: Future / Brent Darby)

Create a rustic, cottage look with willow fencing. It has the feel of traditional wattle but the strength of a modern panel, and makes a beautiful backdrop for most plants.

Willow hurdles, framed willow or hazel screens offer a more natural look and suit informal garden settings, but they may not be as strong (or last as long) as a pressure-treated timber panel. 

However, these natural woven fences are made from cuttings which encourage growth, making this an environmentally sustainable choice.

19. Choose a tried-and-tested shiplap design

covered patio decorating for fourth of july

(Image credit: Jenniy Reimold)

Shiplap is the most popular type of ready-made fence panel, offering good value and plenty of sizes. It is usually supported by concrete or timber posts, and needs to be treated with wood preserver regularly.   

If your current shiplap design is looking a little tired, give it a makeover by painting it in a distinctive color, with themed planting.

20. Create a boundary with an evergreen hedge

Small round topiary on a lawn in front of three large box hedges.

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

Evergreens are perfect for creating a boundary for your property and make the best privacy hedges; the permanent leaf cover of evergreen hedges can do a great job of keeping humans and animals out (or in), if you’re not partial to a traditional fence or wall. 

Evergreens come in all shapes and sizes – from the tiniest alpines to the tallest trees, so you’ll have no trouble finding one (or many) to suit your plot. 

21. Reinvent the picket fence

Painted picket fence

(Image credit: Future / Alun Callender)

Breathe new life into your picket fences by painting each post a different color. 'Usually painted white, garden fence ideas look great painted in a range of pastel shades to complement your front door color,' says Rachel Crow, Gardens Editor, Homes & Gardens.

22. Invest in a design-conscious scheme

Modern, slatted garden fence ideas in a lawned garden, incorporating a matching garden room.

(Image credit: Future / Annaick Guitteny)

A favorite in the design world right now, horizontal slatted fencing is having something of a moment. 

This garden, designed by Lucy Wilcox, uses boundaries as art to create a garden that beautifully blends modernity with family-friendly functionality. 

‘I couldn’t just create a show garden, because it had to work as a practical family space, but I didn’t want it to look like a playground either,’ she says. 

She solved the conundrum with a design that embraced strong lines. Here, the fence is connected to the playroom for an element fluidity. It is a simple yet clever design.

23. Match fencing to furniture

Slatted wooden garden fence idea with climbers and a curved wooden bench.

(Image credit: Future / Annaick Guitteny)

'I love the echo of the garden fence in the bench in front of it in the backyard above,' says Lucy Searle, Editor in Chief, Homes & Gardens. 'Just as you would indoors, create moments of repetition like this in a backyard for a harmonious balanced feel. You can do it with anything from fencing materials to planting.'

What is the best fence for a garden? 

The best fence for a garden is one that will suit your surroundings, but also fits in with your chosen design aesthetic.

Privacy is a key consideration when considering garden fence ideas, as are aesthetics – is there a neighbouring building or shed that you want to screen off? How high can you go? 

While there are many things to consider, it is worth starting out with the right materials.

We suggest using fencing materials best suited to the style of garden you have. For example, use stone, concrete and sleek wood panels for urban gardens, and willow, timber and hedges for traditional or cottage-style gardens.

How can I make a garden fence look good? 

It is incredibly easy to make garden fence ideas look good, no matter what your budget may be.

If you inherit fences that you don’t like the look of, but don’t have the budget to replace, do not despair. Instead, think of it as a planting opportunity and look to flower bed ideas

Chain link fences make great trellises; plant a vigorous ramping rose with honeysuckle and evergreen clematis, and your unattractive fence will soon disappear under a fragrant wild boundary that wildlife and birds will enjoy.

Maintenance is another important factor to consider if you want to keep your fence looking good many years from now. Give fences an annual check for loose boards, panels or posts that need repairing. 

While most fencing material is pressure-treated wood, it can help to prolong the life of your fences if you apply a good timber care treatment. 

What can I use instead of a fence?

If a traditional garden fence ideas are not on your bucket list, fret not. There are many other options you might want to consider if you want to create a boundary.

A living screen and archway in the form of scented climbers makes for an informal border in a country-style garden. 

‘Wirework trellis panels offer the best support for plants to grow, creating an evergreen boundary that doubles as a habitat for birds, butterflied and bees,’ says Hilary Thurman of Garden Requisites.

Wildlife-friendly varieties include dog roses, honeysuckles and wisteria.

What is the cheapest fencing option?

'For those on a budget, traditional horizontal waney edge (lap) or vertical feather edge or close board panels, available at your local DIY store, are the cheapest option – certainly for long runs in the back yard,' says James.

'However, only choose these if you plan to partially obscure them with planting in front or train evergreen climbing plants up and over the top as they aren't the most aesthetically pleasing designs.'

If yours is a garden design where you are likely to see a lot of the boundary, it’s essential to choose something that won’t be an eyesore. 

Another great option is to install a chain and link fence which is both affordable and easy to achieve.

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.

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