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Experts reveal the best color for fences in small gardens – to make them look bigger

Color experts explain why when it comes to fences in a small space going dark is always the best option

Black fence behind two green garden chairs
(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

Garden experts have revealed if you want to create the illusion of a spacious garden, it's best to avoid pale shades and instead opt for dark neutrals.

When it comes to planning small garden ideas, the biggest question homeowners want the answer to this year is 'What color fence paint makes the garden look bigger?' New research* found that the color choice of our garden fence ideas was one of the biggest homes and gardens concerns, after 'how to paint kitchen cabinets' and 'how to choose wallpaper for a living room'.

We’ve spoke to garden design experts for their advice on choosing a fence color to make a small garden look bigger and their suggestions might surprise you. 

The best fence color for a small garden

Instead of setting up a strong contrast between plants and background garden designers recommend creating the illusion of space by bringing everything together in a complementary green and brown color palette.  

Green painted gate surrounded by leaves

(Image credit: Behr)

'We recommend using Secret Meadow (opens in new tab), a deep olive-ish green,' says Erika Woelfel, Vice-President of Color & Creative Services at Behr Paint Company. 'Outdoors, Secret Meadow paint makes a stunning yet welcoming statement on a wooden garden gate, adding a sense of intrigue for guests about to enter your garden or backyard hideaway.'

'This organic green pairs perfectly with soft sandy colors or light stucco, playing off the colors of nearby foliage.'

Dark fence surrounded by pink flowers

Fence painted in Dragon’s Breath by Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Rachel Perl)

Rachel Perls (opens in new tab), an architectural color consultant and artist, recommends going a step further with a green-hued brown shade called Dragon’s Breath by Benjamin Moore (opens in new tab). 'It’s the perfect natural mix of green, brown, and gray,' she says. 'It just sinks in the background, leaving the garden to attract all the attention. The paint color is deep, so it recedes. It’s muted, so it doesn’t compete with the plants.'

Go darker

A fence serves a practical purpose to create better privacy, green is a great fence decorating idea for complementing foliage. However, if you want your wooden fence to blend seamlessly into the background Mark Osborne, director at Orangeries UK (opens in new tab) recommends always going for black. 

Fence with raised beds

(Image credit: Future / Polly Eltes )

'Nothing beats a black stain on exterior timbers,' says Mark Osborne. 'A black fence removes the fence from our attention and makes a nicer landscaping design by drawing attention to the garden and to plants instead.'

'Black wood stain is fast and easy to apply and doesn't leave brush marks behind like paint. Black stained timber behind green plants and gardens looks really good.'

*Research by Next (opens in new tab) homeware store

Jayne Dowle
Contributing Editor

Jayne Dowle is an award-winning freelance gardening, homes and property writer who writes about everything from swimming ponds to skyscraper apartments, for publications including Sunday Times Home, Times Bricks & Mortar, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and The Spectator. Awarded the Garden Journalist of the Year accolade at the Property Press Awards in 2021, she has a degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford and a lifelong love of homes, interiors and gardens. Her first memories include planting potatoes with her grandfather and drawing houses. Her own garden - her fourth - at home in a 1920s house in Yorkshire, is south-facing and on the side of a valley. It’s a constant challenge.