Garden wall ideas have taken many forms over the past few decades. From concrete stone verticals and painted fences, to elaborate trellis designs and living walls abundant with fauna and foliage, garden wall decor has certainly had a dressing up – or dressing down in some instances.
With the majority of us spending more time in our homes these days, beautiful garden ideas have never been more important than they are now, and walls are no exception.
Even Shakespeare hired someone to play in wall in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and if the most famous wall of all, The Great Wall of China, could talk, it would likely have an interesting story to tell.
Stylish garden wall ideas
If you are stuck for garden decor ideas and inspiration, then you've landed on the right page.
Here are our favorite garden wall ideas and tips for decorating your boundaries – plus tons of design advice.
1. Introduce a living wall
Living, or green, walls, once the domain of temporary, designer installations have become the must-have decorative design solution for residential gardens.
Colorful, verdant and providing aesthetic and ecological benefits, living wall ideas make use of vertical surfaces for planting – particularly useful where space may be limited, but worthy as an impactful design feature in their own right.
In urban areas, green walls can help keep buildings cool, improve air quality and reduce noise pollution, as well as provide a habitat for wildlife. They also help keep rain water away from exterior walls and provide insulation.
2. Add a coat of paint
Feature walls are big in interiors so why not in exteriors? Give a blank wall, outbuilding or fence a new look by painting it a deep, rich hue and using it as a dramatic backdrop for plants and pots.
Choose colors according to the amount of sunlight or shade the wall or fence receives, just as you would inside the house. This smokey charcoal hue brings the woven, steel and wood accessories to life.
Use galvanized planters filled with herbs and decorative zinc watering cans – which can be hung on the walls – to catch the light.
3. Find the perfect fence
Garden fence ideas can define the edges of our garden, provide security, protection and privacy. With the range of choice on offer, there is so much a well chosen fence can do for your outdoor space, making them well worth considering as an alternative to garden wall ideas.
Having a well-maintained fence is a great way to ensure that your sell your house quickly and secure a top price for your property. Style is just as important as quality however, and choosing the right material and look is an important consideration.
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 you garden privacy as well as adding a smart finish to your space, and a garden fence is an attractive and relatively maintenance-free way of achieving this.
Fencing also provides an ideal backdrop for plants, as well as protecting the garden from the extremes of winter weather.
4. Link your garden by a thread of reused stones
With a huge focus on sustainability in 2021, it comes as no surprise that many of us are looking to areas in our homes and gardens that we can repurpose and reclaim.
Stone, often found in quarries and salvage yards, can be reused in garden wall ideas that are beautifully rustic and visually appealing. Any wildlife living amid the stones will only add to the narrative – these kind of garden walls provide sheltered homes for newts, frogs and insects.
Stone walls can also be the perfect way to add terraces if you are exploring sloping garden ideas.
5. Do away with a traditional wall
If traditional fencing or garden wall ideas are not on your agenda, worry not. A neat box hedge could be the answer to your garden wall prayers.
Hedges offer lots of design possibilities and are also great for creating garden rooms. Understandably, it can be hard to get excited about hedges. They quietly do their thing, defining the boundaries of our gardens and providing a useful backdrop to other planting. But they can be so much more.
It’s possible to make a feature of hedging by incorporating it into your design when you plan a garden and capitalising on the extra planting opportunities a hedge offers. ‘When it comes to design, they play a vital role,’ advises horticulturist and author Louise Curley.
‘You can use hedges to divide your space into different garden rooms; taller ones will help you create secret places, or you can cut a hole into a hedge to capture a view – either taking the eye beyond the garden or giving a glimpse into a hidden corners.’
If you're after something more classic in design, then the knife-edge precision in a hedge is an awesome thing, as if the line the gardener drew on their plan had been magnified a thousand times. Who can help but admire the workmanship which can produce a living straight line or a perfect wall of uniform, black-green yew.
6. Increase your plantable space by growing plants vertically
Are you looking for small garden ideas that maximize on planting space? Vertical planting is the solution.
One of the main ways you can enhance the pleasure you get from your garden is to ensure that every single surface of the walls and fences are put to good use. Far too many of these potential growing spaces are left bare, when they could be transformed into a stylish feature.
New planting products such as wall mountable pouches now allow you to hang a curtain-like fall of planting over almost any wall, and that includes interior walls (given you have a space which gets enough light).
They are instant focal points and can be planted with pretty much any choice of plants – think herbs or colorful trailing plants on a previously unloved garden wall.
7. Let light in with a trellis
For a little extra privacy, add a trellis above an existing wall. Trellises and other frameworks can be erected to encourage delicate plants to grow in the directions you want.
Traditionally climbing plants have been used to swathe walls with color – and edible climbers, such as blackberries and raspberries, can be trained against a sunny wall.
Trees and shrubs can also be 'espaliered' – pruned carefully so that their branches grow right against the walls – offering big harvests without encroaching on garden space.
Alternatively, tall free-standing planters can be placed in front of bare walls to bring extra life to tired areas, or as additional garden shade ideas.
8. Be sympathetic to your existing structures
Any garden structure should be considered in relation to the house. That’s not to say it needs to match – old-meets-new is very popular in garden design right now – but your choice should be sympathetic.
Here, the design and materials of a contemporary horizontal slatted fence complement the run of modern steel-frame doors. As far as garden edging ideas go, this design creates a cohesive border, with the simple organic shapes of climbing plants softening the linear effect.
How can I make my garden walls look nice?
Vertical gardening is all the rage, and is one of the most sensational garden wall ideas for transforming a blank wall into a piece of living art.
In its simplest form, a green wall consists of trailing or climbing plants planted in wall-mounted containers or pockets, sometimes with a sheet of polythene behind.
When it comes to choosing plants, think useful as well as decorative.
A vertical herb garden that features bushy and trailing thymes with oregano, chives and tumbling nasturtiums, which can all be snipped for cooking and salads, is a good option.
Alternatively, incorporate scented plants to create more of a sensory garden space.
Regular and even watering is essential and you’ll get the best results if you can include an irrigation drip system at the same time as you construct the wall.
How do I brighten a garden brick wall?
Color is the best way to brighten a brick wall, be that paint, flowers or foliage.
Varying color and texture will bring an exposed brick wall up-to-date. Remember, lighter colors tend to dominate, so keep to dark tones on the bottom for a grounding effect.
There is also a tempting array of wall-mounted planting options now available to encourage us all to get the best from every square centimetre of our plots. Troughs, pouches, tubs and other containers can be affixed to garden walls and fence posts with sturdy brackets, and filled with trailing flowers.
How can I hide an unsightly garden wall?
It is relatively easy to hide an unsightly garden wall. If in doubt, consider using plants and foliage to add interest.
A large range of herbaceous perennials, grasses, small shrubs, herbs and even fruit and vegetables can be used. Be creative and experimental – try including scented plants, seasonal flowers and bulbs.
However, be sure to check your chosen plants will suit the aspect, microclimate and conditions of the wall they will be grown on. North-facing garden ideas require very different planting to sunnier south-facing garden ideas, for example.
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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