Garden planting rails – How and where to use them

Last time around we looked at all the ins and outs of pergolas. Adding a structure as large and as dominating as a pergola isn’t always the best option for everyone though. So this week we will take a look at planting rails, the pergolas smaller sister.

Planting-rail

So what exactly is a planting rail?

Basically, it’s like a pergola, but it’s like a flat version that you can either put across the garden or on top of the fences to add a bit of height and dimension to it, as shown in the photographs above.

The main purpose of a planting rail is to add height. So you can use them on top of an existing fence as a way to grow climbers higher than the fence and help screen the neighbours.

The other use of a planting rail is to frame the view as well as add height. This happens when you use them across the garden. Placement however, just like it is with pergolas, is critical if you’re going across the garden.

How to correctly place a planting rail

There’s no exact rule here, but visually, I think it looks better if the planting rail is at the beginning or end of the garden rather than in the middle. You can see in our example garden above that the planting rail framed the view to the top raised patio at the end of the garden. So it wasn’t just floating in the middle of nowhere, it linked in with the patio area.

Planting-rails

You can also use a planting rail a bit like an extended arch, with sections of trellis beneath the rail. This gives you a more solid division in the garden than the example garden version. So just imagine that garden with each end of the planting rail filled in with trellis, making the patio area a bit more enclosed.

Another way of using a planting rail is to have them in raised planters. That way you create interest and height and a place for climbers to grow up out of the planters. So as you can see, there are many uses for the underused planting rail.

The other advantage of the planting rail is that it’s obviously considerably cheaper to install than a full size pergola. You can use metal or timber, the choice is yours. Obviously metal you can bend and shape more easily, so that gives you a greater flexibility with your styling, but of course metal will be considerably more expensive than timber.

Metal-Plant-Rail

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About Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 20 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

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