Archives for October 2016

How to disguise an ugly garden fence – part 3

In Garden fence lowdown – Part one and Part two, we’ve covered what you need to know about putting a fence up and the choices available. But if you want a cheaper and quicker option to replacing a fence, then in this article I’m going to share my top tips for disguising an ugly fence.

Willow screening attached to old fence

Covering an ugly fence with plants is the obvious answer, but it’s not the quickest option. So if you want something a little quicker to disguise an existing fence, either yours or your neighbours, you basically have two options available to you.

  1. Paint it
  2. Screen it

The painting option only really works if the fence is in relatively good condition. There are many different shades of paint you can buy these days specifically for fences. Whilst it’s good to have a nice choice, there are some things you need to be aware of when it comes to painting a fence.

Painting an existing fence

Choosing paint colours for the outside is the opposite to what you do inside. So, for example, we all know that Magnolia coloured paint makes a space inside look larger. You do that outside and it’ll have the opposite effect and the white colour will bring the fence in closer, visually.

So any paints that have a high degree of white in them, and yes that includes the sage greens, will really make you notice that fence.

The darker colours that have a higher degree of black in, like the very dark forest greens, will recess into the background. Think of all those black barns we have dotted around the English countryside, they blend in beautifully. If they were painted white, they would really jump out at you!

Sage green paint used to brighten this dull looking fence – there’s a lot of white in it which brings the colour forward.

Beware of paint!

One issue with painting the fence is it will invariably end up running through to the other side, unless you are very careful. So it might be an idea to discuss it with your neighbour before you get going. They might be up for painting theirs the same colour, then you won’t have to spend quite so much time and effort making sure the paint doesn’t seep into their side.

You can purchase a fence paint sprayer, which does make it a little easier, but they do get clogged up quite easily and I’m not entirely convinced it saves you much time with the time taken to unclog them!

Screening a fence

You also have the choice of trying to disguise an ugly fence with some fast-growing climbing plants or, and this is my favourite, to add screening to an existing fence. I am particularly fond of willow screening, but you can get bamboo or heather etc. Whilst this isn’t exactly a cheap option, I think it certainly the better looking option.

ScreeningDo make sure that the fence posts are in good condition and can support the additional weight of the screening, or you won’t be very popular with the neighbours if their fence falls down because of your ‘improvements’! If the posts wobble easily, then it’s probably not a good idea to attach anything to the fence, even plants!

BUT of course, a nice fence alone will NOT give you a stunning garden – you have to get the design layout right first. If you don’t know how to do that then…

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes…

Register on this page:

Long, Narrow & Odd Shape Garden – Rae & Geoff’s Design

Introducing an amazing couple – Rae & Geoff – who not only designed their own garden but built it too!

I’ll let them talk you through their garden project…


1) Why did we want to redo our garden?

Our existing garden was essentially a long path to the shed at the back of it: it was boring; long and narrow; quite hard and cold looking; and didn’t suit our lifestyle of having our friends around for a braai (South African version of a barbecue) where some people can hang out by the fire while others can sit and chat away from the smoke.

long-garden-design-plan2) What made us want to design it ourselves?

After receiving a few dud quotes where the work quoted was merely landscaping and not actually changing the shape of the garden, we starting wondering whether the design was something that we could do ourselves.
Geoff found Rachel’s website through a Google search and we watched all of her videos in one evening. What she said made so much sense to us, and she made it sound so easy(!) that we signed up for the course that night.

3) What made us want to do it all ourselves?

The expense! We initially planned to pay someone to do the hard labour but the cost of the labour alone was three times our entire budget. In hindsight, the landscaping was a much, much bigger project than we had anticipated but we do have a great sense of achievement in learning new skills, building new muscles!, and knowing that our blood, sweat and tears have gone into making a pretty space that we love being in.

4) Biggest lesson?

Whether it was due to our being novices or because we procrastinated over certain decisions, doing things took much longer than we thought it would. If you haven’t done a certain activity before – like building a small wall, I would suggest taking a very conservative estimate of the time that it will take to do it and then times that by three!
Also, having the right tools for a job makes things so much easier. We bought a few expensive items, e.g. a mitre saw, but they made things so much quicker and took out the frustration.

5) Hardest thing to do?

Building the deck. This was by far the longest and most complicated job. Each piece of decking board had to be individually measured, cut and angled.

6) Easiest thing to do?

The design!

7) What is the best thing about our new garden?

Being able to actually use our outside space and being able to share it with our family and friends.

8) What are our key takeaways?

– don’t underestimate the time that manual labour takes
– buy the right tools
– ask friends to help

GREAT JOB Rae & Geoff – thanks so much for sharing your garden with fellow SGD students and readers!

Learn how to design your garden

If you’d like to do the same garden design course Rae & Geoff check out the Long Garden Formula.
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