7 Ways to Dress Up Your Fence

A wooden fence with a bucket of flowers hanging from it.

Sometimes a drab old fence can be an eyesore, even in a landscape brimming with beauty. But instead of allowing plain planks of wood to become an unattractive focal point, use them as a backdrop for an exciting design. There are many ways to accessorize a fence, from a new coat of paint to unique, mounted art.

1. Give It Color

A fresh coat of paint is an easy way to revitalize a boring fence. When choosing a color, think about what will highlight your landscape. If you have mostly greens and browns in your yard, pick something with a pop of color such as bright yellow or turquoise. If your garden is already colorful, go for something neutral but eye-catching like moss green, charcoal, or a rusty red.

If you like a more natural and rustic look, think about using a wood stain, which will bring out the natural luster and pattern of the wood itself. It highlights the earth tones, making them richer, deeper, and brighter.

2. Make a Pattern

If you really want something eye-popping, consider painting a pattern instead of a solid color. This can be as easy as painting the planks in alternating colors. For a pattern like thick zigzag lines, houndstooth, or paisley, do a quick internet search for wall painting stencils. These come in every shape and size and are as easy to use on a fence as they are on a wall. Prices range from around $20 to $60. To use them, simply put down a fresh coat of neutral paint, wait for it to dry, and then paint over your stencil in the color of your choosing for an instant "Wow!"

rainbow fence

3. Paint a Picture

Murals are certainly more involved and time-consuming, but you come away with a one-of-a-kind piece of art right in your own yard. Not artistic? Search for a local muralist in your area. Many are reasonable on price and, depending on the size of the fence, can have the piece done in one or two afternoons. Themes are unlimited and can include personal aspects like a favorite scene from a family trip, an important quote, a favorite book cover, or a dream destination. They can also be totally abstract.

4. Go Green with Vines

Plant perennial or annual vines beside or in front of your fence, and train them to climb up and over the fence or to spread out along the face of the planks. This will take time, but within two growing seasons your vines will nearly double in size. Although many vines will not scale a wooden fence, there are a few easy ways to get vertical growth.

vines on fence

Set trellises in front of the fence, either simple wood ones or wrought iron, and train the vines up these. Get them started by tying the vines loosely to the trellises with dental floss. Soon, they will figure out which way is up and start climbing all on their own. You can also mount chicken wire directly onto the face of the fence using a staple gun and train the vines onto this. The narrow wire is perfect for climbing and the vines will wrap their tendrils around it in no time. Vigorous vines include clematis, wisteria, and trumpet vine, which all have striking flowers. Keep in mind that some vines like wisteria and ivy are very strong and have been known to pull down houses. Make sure these are climbing on freestanding iron trellises to avoid damage to your fence.

5. Go Green with Planters

Another way to use plants to hide your fence is to mount planters or hanging baskets directly onto the wood. Many pots are made with a flat side or with a side hook for vertical mounting. Window boxes are also excellent choices because they commonly come with hooks so that you can hang them over your fence without having to affix them permanently. A sunny fence would be an excellent place for an herb garden or for butterfly-attracting plants such as lantana, pentas, zinnias, and canna lilies. Trailing annuals, like Swedish ivy and sweet potato vine, will dangle prettily and blow in the wind.

planters in backyard

6. Let the Moss Grow

An easy way to cover or dress up a shady fence without messing with pots or soil is to spray it with a moss mixture. With a little time and moisture, the moss will germinate and grow right on the wood. All you need is two handfuls of fresh moss (from a nursery or just picked from your yard or the woods), two cups of buttermilk, and two cups of water. Get an old blender and mix up these ingredients. Then, grab a hose and give your fence a nice rinse. Pour your ‘moss milkshake’ into a spray bottle and spray it on the moist planks, or use a paintbrush and paint it on. To get creative, paint it on in words or pictures. Keep the fence damp by giving it a light spray from the hose once a week, twice in drought conditions, and watch your moss grow!

7. Use Unconventional Decorations

You don’t have to rely on plants to dress up your fence. There are lots of cool things you can hang or mount onto it that will add an element of whimsy. So, instead of just painting a new color or pattern, have your kids or friends paint small pictures on the fence and mount multicolored picture frames around them.

Other popular ideas right now include things one would not typically find on a fence. For example, you can mount thrift shop mirrors of different sizes for a flashy and unusual hint of silver. Try something themed with your items too, like drilling bolts into the fence and using ceramic glue to attach teacups, teapots, saucers, and serving platters to the bolts for a very Alice in Wonderland-esque look. Also try using some wooden crates; spray paint them fun colors and mount them on the fence, and then use them to display interesting chachkies like potted plants, statues, candles, and pretty colored bottles. Using repurposed items for décor is both a cost-effective and trendy way to achieve something different.

rustic outdoor decoration

Don't Be Afraid to Mix and Match

Keep in mind that you can use two or more of these methods in tandem. Painting your fence a neutral color and then hanging decorations and plants are all beautiful ways to accessorize. Start small and build on key focal points that you really love. The most important part of decorating any fence is to make it be a reflection of yourself. Your garden fence, and of course your garden, will soon mirror your personality, complimenting your home perfectly.