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…

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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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