Garden fence ideas – define the edges of your garden and create a boundary

Whether you are installing new ones or updating those already in situ, H&G offers ideas to brighten your boundaries

Garden fence ideas
(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

Looking for garden fence ideas for your front garden, backyard or even patio? Then you've landed on the right page.

They define the edges of our garden, provide security and protection as well as privacy. With the range of choice on offer there, is so much a well-chosen garden fence can do for your outdoor space.

Style is just as important as quality, so choosing the right material for your space is essential. There is an increasing demand for unfussy horizontal linear designs as opposed to the rustic look. Regardless of the size of the garden, clear boundaries will give a sense of privacy as well as a smart finish to your outdoor space – and a garden fence is an attractive and relatively maintenance-free way of achieving this.   

To get you started, we've rounded up the best garden fence ideas for functionality and style to inspire you. 

  • See: Garden wall ideas – create a boundary or define a space with a vertical structure

1. Set up horizontal fencing

Garden fence ideas

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

Make a statement with horizontal screening, instead of a traditional fence. It creates a designer look commonplace in show gardens, and the timbers are ideal for supporting plants. 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; only use around your patio or 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. 

2. Install vertical fencing

Garden fence ideas

(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 the fence creates a real sense of privacy. It also allows you to custom build to fill whatever space you have.   

Cut down on labour 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, then you can attach wire or mesh to the fence as a support for climbing plants to give a distinctly modern feel. 

3. Consider trellis options

Garden fence ideas

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

Panels with integrated trellis might offer slightly less privacy initially, but the open, airy feel is undeniably elegant. 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 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 garden.

4. Think about windier days

Garden fence ideas

(Image credit: Future / Colin Poole)

Unless you have a sheltered garden, a solid fence will suffer more than one with open trelliswork. The wind can blow through the holes of trellis, rather than battering – and ultimately weakening – a solid flat panel. 

5. Add a coat of paint

Garden fence ideas paint

(Image credit: Future / James Merrell)

Outdoor paint will not only make your fence look good, it will give the timber added protection, too. There are plenty of colors to choose from, 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. 

  • See: Garden path ideas – create a beautiful walkway with the right materials, edging and plants

6. Go for an entirely natural garden fence

Garden fence ideas

(Image credit: Future / Brent Darby)

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

Willow hurdles and 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.

7. Choose a tried-and-tested shiplap design

Garden fence ideas

(Image credit: Future / Colin Poole)

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 pots, 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.

8. Create a boundary with an evergreen hedge

Garden fence ideas

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

Evergreens have several applications in the garden that deciduous plants simply can’t fulfil. For example, they are perfect for creating a boundary for your property; 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. 

9. Pitch up a picket fence

Garden fence ideas

(Image credit: Future / Simon Scarboro)

A picket fence is usually used exclusively for front gardens, give their low height. However, they can be used for sectioning off areas in the backyard such as obscuring unsightly bins. They are also great for training plants up – and they also make good gateways for insects and small animals to pass through.

10. Invest in a design-conscious scheme

Garden fence ideas

(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.

What is the best fence for a garden? 

Garden fence ideas

(Image credit: Future / Annaick Guitteny)

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 choosing a fence, 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 materials best suited to the style of garden your 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? 

Garden fence ideas

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

It is incredibly easy to make a garden fence 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, look on it as a planting opportunity. 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 MOT to check that there are no 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?

Garden fence ideas

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

If a traditional garden fence is 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.