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multicolored picket fence

Fences don’t have to be just functional. Try one of these three techniques (or all of them) to incorporate them into a beautiful outdoor space.

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Sometimes I wonder about the saying “good fences make good neighbors”. On the one hand, we’re living in an increasingly isolating world despite the illusion we have of great communication through social media, video calls and emails, we’re growing more lonely than ever before.

On the other hand, though, the saying highlights that every person, every family needs boundaries. Fences are a metaphor for these boundaries we keep to protect our intimacy. Good fences, then, are high enough to let us keep in what we want to keep in, yet low enough for us to be able to communicate and connect with our neighbors.

Family creativity

Okay, that’s a long introduction to the idea that fences, even though they seem like just a practical thing you put around your yard to keep unwanted people away, can actually become the source of much joy and beauty. Decorating and ornamenting your fences improves the visual quality of your yard and can be a great outlet for your family’s creativity.

Lattice top fencing from BuildDirect

Lattice top fencing from BuildDirect. Just a practical part of your backyard, or a design element to a beautiful outdoor living space? It can be both!

Let’s have a look at some great decorating and ornamenting ideas for your fences.

1. Paint: not your typical white picket fence

Honestly, is there anything more typical than a white fence? Sure, if you’re going for that 1950’s Suburban American Dream look, keep it that way. But today, homeowners have plenty more inspiration and possibilities for their outdoor design choices.

blue and white painted fence

A fence painted in shades of sky blue can easily remind us of the ether above; in green, it keeps us grounded and interested in the plant life around us. Feeling daring? Use a palette of 2-3 contrasting colors for something original and eye-popping.

If your children (or yourself!) are paint aficionados, why not use your fence as a mural space? Design and paint a story of your family and keep space to add a few elements to it every year. The fence will be both beautiful and a way to honor and remember your family’s time in the home.

2. Planters and flowers

If you like your fence in its current color but would like to add a little life to it, an easy way is to add flower planters along. If you use “over-the-top” planters, make sure you ask your neighbor first! But you can easily hang planters on your side of the fence without disturbing anyone else.

fence and foliage flowers

Always remember to choose flowers according to your climate and the amount of sunlight the area gets. If the fence gets shade during the day from a nearby tree, plant an appropriate shade-loving plant. Full sun all day? Plenty of beautiful flowers thrive in the light and heat.

Consider putting flower beds at the bottom of your fence as well. They make a perfect backdrop to your yard and hide ugly fences. Try taller flowers and bushes like sunflowers, oriental lilies, foxglove or hollyhock.

3. Climbing vines

I remember living in a home where the back fence was crisscrossed with raspberry vines. Best. Fence. Ever. We could just pluck raspberries from the vine whenever we wanted. Makes for great summer drink topping too!

Vines can make anything look elegant and beautifully worn. Vines can grow very fast, yet we still associate them with elegant old age. Don’t we all stop and wonder at Victorian buildings covered in ivy, thinking about all the secrets and history of the place?

fences and climbing vines

Okay. Well maybe your fences don’t really have secrets, but it’s nice to think that they might, right? Using climbing plants and vines on your fences is a great way to add a touch of rustic beauty to your yard. And, well, you might just end up with a nice harvest of raspberries and blackberries in the summer. Yum.

Mending fences

Fences don’t have to be an ugly reminder of the limits of your yard. They can be a beautiful asset to your outdoor design, whether you go bold with a family mural, or subtle with adding flowers or vines. Fences add a vertical opportunity to improve your landscape. Why not have a look at how you can beautify them today?

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.