How to Cover an Unsightly Fence: 15 Creative Ways to Hide or Disguise an Ugly Barrier

Almost every property in the UK has at least one fence in its garden. And while there’s no denying the practicality of fences, they can also be an eyesore. So, knowing how to hide an ugly fence can help.

When you’ve spent a lot of time and money on landscaping, the last thing you want is for a wooden stumbling block to ruin the look. but investing in a new garden fence idea isn’t cheap. You do have choices if you can’t afford to replace your old fence or if you just want to clean up your side of the fence next door (as long as they let you).

Some easy ways to make an ugly fence look nice are to paint it or buy cheap fencing. These ideas have been personally tested and approved by experts. And they’re easy to DIY, too.

Let’s face it – fences can be unsightly. While they serve an important purpose in delineating property lines and providing privacy, fences aren’t always things of beauty. Chain link, worn wooden planks, or even tall privacy fences made of solid materials can be an eyesore.

If your fence is ugly or you simply want to soften its appearance, there are many creative ways to cover, disguise or hide it. With a mix of plants structures, art, and other design elements, you can transform an unsightly fence into an attractive garden feature.

Add Climbing Plants

One of the easiest ways to hide a fence is to let climbing vines cover it with greenery. Plants like clematis, roses, honeysuckle, jasmine, grapes, and wisteria will readily scale fences as they grow. For a quick green facade, annual climbers like morning glory or climbing nasturtiums are fast-growing options.

To support climbing plants on a fence:

  • Install trellises, wires, cords, or other structures for tendrils to cling to

  • For plants that cling directly to surfaces like ivy or climbing hydrangea, no support is needed.

  • Prune back vines each year to keep growth under control.

Mix different leaf shapes, plant heights, and flowering times for variety. A living green fence adds beauty, softens hard edges, and can provide flowers, fragrance, and wildlife habitat.

Create a Hedge

Planting a hedge in front of a fence adds a layered, natural look. For a continuous line, opt for evergreen hedging plants like boxwood, yew, cedar, or privet. Deciduous choices like beech, hornbeam, or photinia also work well.

Space plants according to mature spread, fertilize regularly for faster fill-in, and trim annually to maintain shape. The result is a lush, living fence cover.

Install Latticework

For a more tailored look, installing latticework or trellises over a fence provides support for climbing plants. Lattices come in materials like wood, metal, vinyl, and fiberglass. Opt for durable, weather-resistant materials.

Attach firmly using sturdy braces, vinyl ties, or nails/screws depending on the fence material. Prime and paint or stain wood lattices for longevity. Finally, train vines like clematis or jasmine over the lattice for a ornate, romantic vibe.

Create an Arbor Retreat

Arbors or pergolas integrated into a fence line can double as a decorative feature and shady retreat. Woods like cedar and redwood stand up well to outdoor conditions. For a longer lasting option, use vinyl, composite, or powder coated metal.

Install an arbor as a gateway in a fence line or as a sitting area along the length of a fence. Follow with flowering vines, strings of lights, and patio furniture for a secret garden feel. The end result disguises the fence beautifully.

Paint or Stain for a Facelift

A simple paint or stain job can overhaul tired, weathered fences. Neutral earth tones help fences recede. White makes fences pop in a clean, bright way. Or go bold with saturated hues for fun.

Proper prep is key – power wash, scrape, sand, and patch first. Use exterior grade paint or stain formulated for fences. Maintain regularly to keep your painted fence looking freshly applied.

Incorporate Hanging Planters

Hanging planters mounted on a fence are an easy way to infuse color and charm. For a cohesive look, go monochromatic with the same pot and plant style repeated along the length of a fence.

Opt for lightweight plastic, resin, or fiberglass planters that attach securely to wood or metal fences. Be sure any brackets or hardware used can support the weight when plants are wet. Then fill with flowers, vines, or even edible greens!

Display Art or Signage

Turn your fence into an art display area! Painted murals, mosaic tiles, wall sculptures, framed art prints, or vinyl signs and words can transform boring fences into works of art.

For wooden fences, use weatherproof materials like exterior paints and finishes. On solid fences or walls, nearly anything goes – let your imagination run wild! This is a fun way to showcase your personality.

Incorporate Architectural Salvage

For a downhome, country feel, accessorize a wood plank fence with salvaged architectural pieces. Try items like old windows, doors, shutters, wrought iron fences, and decorative trim details.

Paint or stain salvage to match your fence and distress as desired to make items appear aged. Lean items against the fence or attach using metal hardware. The recycled character disguises drab fences with charm.

Grow Espalier Fruit Trees

Training fruit trees into a flat, two-dimensional shape along a fence is called espalier. It results in neat rows of tiered branches ideal for hiding fences.

Good espalier candidates include apple, pear, citrus, plum, and cherry trees. Construct support structures like cross arms or trellis wires on fences. Prune and train new growth across supports for desired patterns. The tiered tree structure elegantly obscures the fence.

Add Screening Panels

For quick privacy or coverage, decorative screen panels attach right to existing fences. Options include lattice, trellis, bamboo, metal, PVC, or woven reed panels. Match the style to your garden.

Look for durable, weather-resistant screening that attaches securely. Most panels come in standard fence sizes for easy installation. Use trim pieces to cover edges if needed. Screen panels disguise drab fences fast.

Position a Potted Privacy Hedge

Creating a row of potted evergreens along a fence line mimics an in-ground privacy hedge. Choose narrow trees like arborvitae, junipers, cypress, or yews that can tolerate close quarters.

Use pots wide enough for tree roots – at least 16-24″ wide. Maintain dense growth with regular trimming. Fertilize in spring and mid-summer. This living fence alternative masks unattractive fences beautifully.

Grow Vines on Wire Forms

For a lightweight cover, train vines to grow over wire forms attached to fence lines. Use wiggly shapes, outlines, geometric patterns – anything goes!

Good wire frame materials include copper wire, galvanized wire fencing, chicken wire, and metal trellises. Then weave flexible vines through openings as they grow. Try morning glory, pole beans, loofah, grapes, or kiwi vines. Let your imagination run wild with this option.

Add Garden Structures or Sculptures

Garden structures like trellises, obelisks, and arbors are decorative ways to disguise drab areas of fencing. Use them to support vining plants or as standalone focal points.

Sculptures also do double duty, adding artistic interest while covering fence space. Choose sculptures in durable materials like metal, cement, or stone. For wood sculptures, use weather-resistant species like cedar. Get creative with this fun design strategy.

Coordinate with Container Gardens

Groupings of potted plants and trees are a flexible way to conceal less attractive fence spots. Go for tall thriller plants, flowing spillers, and shorter fillers to add varied height and texture.

Repetition creates cohesion – use same or similar pots, colors, and plant materials. But avoid rigid perfection for a natural look. Shift containers seasonally for fresh appeal. Container gardens are one of the simplest fence disguises.

Incorporate Decorative Screens

Freestanding screens offer lightweight coverage where fences meet buildings or other structures. Material options include wood, rattan, metal, and fabric. Choose folding screens for versatile placement.

Paint or stain wooden screens to match your color scheme. For opaque coverage, use fabric panels in solids or prints. The beauty is you can move screens to access fences, then replace to hide again. Screens cover spaces fences miss.

Add Window Boxes or Pot Shelves

Attaching simple window boxes or wall-mounted pot shelves on fence posts lends European flair. Both allow for plants to cascade over and down, concealing fence lines.

Use weather-resistant materials like painted wood, metal, or plastic. Include integrated watering systems for easy care. Then plant with colorful annuals or trailing perennials like ivy, petunias, and fuchsia. The lushness hides fences in style.

Incorporate Garden Furniture or Features

Garden ornaments, outdoor furniture, and decorative structures can all come into play and can be teamed with plants and trees to craft a fence cover truly your own. You might want to explore privacy screens, which can come in a variety of styles and materials, ranging from simple trellises to die-cut metal panels.

There are so many ways to be creative and transform the look and feel of your space. Don’t be afraid to give your personality free rein. A “perfect” cover is less important than creating a space that makes you happy!

Final Thoughts

With a little creativity, it’s possible to disguise and upgrade even the most unsightly fence. Natural solutions like plants, trees, and hedges offer permanentenhancements. Decorative structures, art, salvage, and furnishings provide flexible alternatives. Often combining several elements creates the best concealment.

Be sure to consider your climate, yard conditions, and home style when making choices. Maintenance is also a factor – while permanent plantings are beautiful, they require continual care. Temporary enhancements may suit some lifestyles better.

Don’t let an unattractive barrier drag down your landscape. Instead, view it as an opportunity to create a unique, artistic space that reflects your personality. Use these covering ideas to turn the eyesore into an eye-catching garden gem!

Plant a vertical garden (Image credit: Future PLC)

Thought about using your ugly fence as the base for your vertical garden? It’s easy to plant garden borders and fill pots with plants to go around your fence, but that only covers the bottom part. The top parts of the fence will still be visible.

Caron Grant, Brand Manager at Bridgman, explains, ‘From hanging planters along a fence to using trellises for vines and other climbing plants, vertical gardens provide more growing space as well as upright accents to make your garden look bigger. Plus, their distinctive look offers the opportunity to add interest by covering boring fences with blossoming colours and greenery.’

Like the hedges and trees, however, it may take a while for your vertical garden to grow. Therefore, if you want to plant climbers, the fastest-growing plants for privacy are the best choice.

Not only that, but you also need to consider your neighbours. Steve says, “Ivy, climbing hydrangea, Virginia creeper, and Boston ivy are all examples of self-clinging climbing plants that can be used to grow up a fence.” ’.

If your plant sticks to itself, watch out that it doesn’t get out of hand. Not only might this look bad, but if your fence is shared with a neighbor, they probably won’t like it if a plant gets too big in their garden. ’.

Add trees or hedges (Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Utilising the height and the coverage of the best trees and hedges can instantly hide an ugly fence. You’ll have to be a little more patient while you wait for these natural garden screens to grow, unless you’re willing to buy fully grown trees.

Owen Simpson, Managing Director of Henchman, explains, ‘Not only do they add more greenery to your garden, but they also help with noise reduction, provide protection from wind, and offer shelter and food sources for all kinds of wildlife like bees, butterflies, hedgehogs and birds.’

However, you should always do some due diligence before planting anything to hide your fence. Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench, says, ‘Firstly, I recommend measuring your fence in both height and width. Theres no point in choosing plants and trees that arent going to fully cover your fence, and similarly, you dont want to splash out on expensive, big trees when you only need a tree thats half the height.’

‘Similarly, you need to work out what growing conditions your fence location has. Say, how much sunlight this area gets, what kind of soil it has, how much shade it gets, and how much wind it gets. ’.

You may not want to wait too long when you plant trees or hedges, so you may want to choose privacy trees that grow much faster than others.



How to make an old fence look better?

Paint and Protect Your Fence With a mild cleaning and fresh coat of paint, the fence looks brand new (right). Before (left) we painted the fence it looked worn and weather. With a mild cleaning and fresh coat of paint, the fence looks brand new (right).

How do you hide an ugly fence?

You can hide an ugly fence with strategic placement of: 1. Plants One great idea is tall potted plants. I absolutely love how they create such a dramatic, expensive look when done right. If you prefer you can choose a tall planter with a shorter plant, that works too.

How do you Camouflage an ugly fence?

If you need to camouflage an ugly fence by blocking it from view, here are eight ideas you might consider: 1. Plant trees in front of the fence that will grow to at least the height of the fence. 2. Plant plants, bushes or hedges with dense foliage to cover an ugly fence. 3.

How to cover a fence quickly?

Speaking of how to cover a fence quickly, take artificial plants into account. These fake trees make the yard more private. However, they require no regular maintenance. Here, faux trees help the homeowner cover her dull fences around the pool. Since the items are of high quality, they lend the backyard an authentic impression.

Should you hide an unsightly fence?

‘Hiding an unsightly fence can greatly improve the aesthetics of your outdoor space, providing privacy and enhancing the overall appearance,’ explains Richard King at Dino Decking. But if you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. 1. Paint it Perhaps the simplest and cheapest option is to paint the fence.

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