25 Fence Line Landscaping Ideas to Upgrade Your Yard

It can be challenging to figure out how to incorporate your fence line into your overall landscape design. Many homeowners give up and simply install a wooden or metal fence and concentrate on other elements such as patios or lawns. However, we’ve listed some ways to make your fence line stand out, some on a budget, and some requiring more of an investment!

1. Modern Fence Lighting


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When planning outdoor lighting for your home, don’t stop at the exterior of the house! A fence can be the perfect backdrop for lights. You can get them hard-wired and permanently mounted if your fence lends itself to that option, while even a simple chain-link fence can get a (literal) glow-up from having a string of outdoor lights draped along its length.

2. Privacy Hedges

Privacy Hedges along fence line

Your fence line doesn’t have to actually have a fence, of course. Hedges are a time-honoured way to create privacy for your property. If you’re patient, you can buy small shrubs and be prepared to wait several years for them to grow in and up, or if you don’t mind spending more money, purchase more mature shrubs that will take less time to create a living wall.

Consider mixing up different species in your hedge. That way, you can enjoy a long season of blooming shrubs such as lilacs in spring and hydrangeas into the fall. You can also mix in some cedars and holly for winter greenery.

3. Ground Cover

ground cover near fence

Let’s face it, mowing along a fence can be tricky, and hauling out the weed whacker is tedious, especially if you’ve got a long stretch of fencing. Consider planting a swathe of ground cover plants alongside a fence, eliminating the need for mowing right next to it. Many ground cover plants are also drought-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about watering them when things get dry.

Creeping thyme is a classic ground cover that will quickly spread to fill in the space, and is covered with tiny flowers in late spring. Sedums such as Hens and Chicks are very hardy and will thrive in even the driest locations. Vinca can become invasive, but its glossy green leaves persist through the winter.

Read our related post on “10 High Traffic Ground Cover Plants You Can Walk On” here.

4. Climbing Vines/Plants

Climbing Vines/Plants fence idea

If you’ve moved into a new place with a plain chain-link fence, don’t be in a rush to tear it out and replace it. It may not be pretty, but especially if you have pets or children that you want to keep contained in your yard, it can be really handy. Instead, use that metal framework as a blank canvas for your horticultural art!

A chain-link fence is a perfect support for annual and perennial climbing vines. You can even train grapes to grow on a chain-link fence. If you prefer, you can also use the fence as a trellis for peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

5. Water Features


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Consider turning a portion of your fence into a soothing oasis complete with the sound of running water. Whether you install a wall fountain directly on the fence, or opt for a freestanding model to sit next to it, a water feature like a fountain or pond will certainly add a natural charm to your outdoor space.

Read our related post on “The 10 Most Affordable Outdoor Water Fountains” here.

6. Shovel Edge Flower Garden

Shovel Edge Flower Garden

Flower gardens are a classic look along a fence, combining the convenience of eliminating mowing along the fence line with the beauty of colourful blooms. If you’re replacing lawn with a garden border, consider a simple shovel edge for the bed rather than investing time and lots of money in installing a barrier such as bricks or plastic or metal edging.

To maintain a shovel edge garden bed, all you have to do is take a sharp straight-edge spade and dig down about 6 inches into the soil, and slice out a wedge of sod, which can then be added to your compost heap. Continue until you have reached the end of the border. If you have a really long stretch to edge, you can rent a gas-powered edger to take care of this task once or twice a year.

7. Grow or Plant Privacy Trees

Grow or Plant Privacy Trees

Privacy trees can be planted along an existing fence, or used in place of a fence. Choose species that will quickly grow, but consider mixing in some slower-growing trees that will take over as time goes on. Planting a combination of deciduous and coniferous trees increases the biodiversity on your property, and can act as insurance against devastating infestations such as the emerald ash borer.

That invasive insect wiped out all the ash trees in our region, leaving behind rows of dead trees where they’d been planted along fence lines.

Read our related post on “19 Fast-Growing Trees for Privacy from Neighbours” here.

8. Create a Stone Walking Path


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It’s common to have a relatively narrow space between the side of a house and the property line, and that can be an awkward area to landscape, especially if you’ve installed a tall fence for privacy. Why not combine utility and good looks with a stone pathway leading from one end of the house to another? You won’t need to worry about mowing or even tending a garden bed if you lay down a wide flagstone path, possibly bordered with gravel to fill in any leftover spots. All you need to do is sweep it from time to time in summer, or shovel it in winter, and you’ve got an attractive and serviceable space!

9. Brick Edge Flower Garden

Brick Edge Flower Garden

A flower garden with brick edging is a classic look alongside a fence, and once you’ve installed it it’s easy to maintain. Look around for used bricks to complete this job on a shoestring budget, or opt for interlocking stones if you don’t mind spending more.

Plant the bed with a mixture of hardy perennials and colourful bedding plants, and mulch it with a deep layer of shredded bark to smother weeds and hold in moisture. Consider adding a soaker hose under the mulch for the most efficient watering.

10. Create a Courtyard


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If you’ve got a fairly wide space between your house and fence, you already have a private area that can be enhanced by turning it into a secluded courtyard. While basic patio stones will work, you can spend more money on paving stones or bricks to elevate the look. Even finely crushed gravel spread over landscape fabric will serve as a base for patio furniture or various container plantings.

11. Designated Games Area

Designated Games Area

Do you have a relatively narrow area alongside your fence that is currently just some under-used grass? Why not turn it into beanbag toss or horseshoe pitch?

For a horseshoe pitch, you just need an area 3 feet (90 cm) wide and 4 to 6 feet (122-182 cm) long. Dig out the soil to about 6 inches (15 cm), and fill the space with clay or sand. Pound in the stakes, and you’ve got a great activity for hot summer days, especially if there’s some shade and the refrigerator isn’t too far away!

Bean bag toss (otherwise known as cornhole) and ladder toss don’t need a permanent pitch, but if you’ve got a stretch of grass by the fence, it’s a perfect place to set up when someone wants a game.

12. Install a Lap Pool


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Modern lap pools are perfect for narrow spaces next to a fence. With a width of 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 m), and lengths ranging from 40 to 80 feet (12.5 to 25 m), you can fit a lap pool into a small lot. If you enjoy swimming as regular exercise, this is an ideal way to upgrade your property.

It’s not a cheap option, of course; this is definitely not a DIY project. However, if the convenience of getting in your daily laps in your own backyard is appealing, it’s worth considering.

13. Build a Bocce Ball Court


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A bocce ball court is another way to make good use of what would otherwise be wasted space alongside your fence. It’s also a good DIY project that can easily be finished over a weekend.

While an official bocce court is 86.92 x 13.12 feet, (26.5 x 4 m), you don’t need to conform to those dimensions for a casual backyard game. Once you figure out your size, remove the sod, build a frame out of lumber, and then add a layer of first coarse gravel, then crushed gravel, and finally sand or crushed oyster shells. Then you’re ready to roll!

14. Backyard Koi Pond


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A koi pond is not the same as an ordinary backyard pond. It should be built with straight sides with a minimum depth of 3 feet (.9 m), and preferably at least 6 feet (1.8 m). While it can be surrounded with landscape plants, there should not be any aquatic plants growing in the water itself. It does need a circulation and filtration system to keep the water moving and clean. Because of the amount of earth that needs to be excavated, as well as the equipment that has to be installed, it’s probably best to leave this to the pros.

If you are up to meeting those requirements, you can look forward to many years of peaceful beauty from your koi: the average lifespan of a koi is 25 to 30 years, and some have been known to live as long as 100 years!

15. Raised Garden Beds


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Raised beds along a fence can be a great way to maximize your growing space, especially if you’ve got a small yard. Even if the soil along your fence line is poor, you’ll be creating an ideal growing medium inside your raised beds! This can make even a difficult strip between a driveway and a fence a perfect location for growing flower or vegetable plants, whether they’re annuals or perennials. You can even plant them with shrubs or small trees, depending on the size of the beds.

You can build raised beds out of recycled or newly-purchased materials, depending on the look you’re going for. Even repurposed pallet wood can be turned into attractive containers for gardening. However, reclaimed bricks, concrete blocks, and landscape bricks will last longer and add more curb appeal. Galvanized metal beds are also becoming very popular. Fill the new beds with good quality compost and topsoil.

Read our related post “11 Ways to Fill a Raised Garden Bed for Cheap” here.

16. Install a Putting Green


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If golf is your passion, you might enjoy having a putting green in your own backyard, and it’s a great way to make use of an underutilized strip next to your fence. There’s no set size or shape for this backyard amenity; simply tailor its dimensions to the available space. While you can keep the grass and simply mow it close to the ground, it’s worth considering investing in artificial turf over a concrete or gravel base to reduce maintenance and guarantee ideal putting conditions.

17. Built-In Benches


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Why not turn your fence into part of your patio area? If you’ve got a sturdy fence, it’s a relatively simple matter to install simple ledges for additional seating and tie all the aspects of your outdoor space together.

18. Living Willow Fence


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A living willow fence, or fedge, is a unique way to create a quick-growing privacy screen at a low cost. You don’t even need to buy rooted saplings to get started, as willows are one of the easiest plants to root- in fact, willow water can be used as a rooting medium for other plants!

Once you’ve cleared the strip of sod and prepared the soil with well-rotted compost, with an upright pole at each end, simply insert a willow rod every 8-12 inches (20-30 cm), setting them at a 45° angle to the ground, alternating in direction for each one. Once you’ve planted them all, weave the rods into a diamond pattern. Secure them along the top with a length of twine tied to the end poles.

As the willow rods continue to grow, keep weaving into a pattern as they lengthen, until they reach the desired height, when you can trim them into a straight line at the top.

19. Upgrade Stock Fencing


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If you have a large area to fence in, some fencing options can get quite pricey. Consider instead using panels of stock fencing to create a lower cost but good-looking alternative. You can install them as they are, or frame them with lumber for a more high-end look.

20. Classic White Picket Fence

Classic White Picket Fence

Who doesn’t love the look of a white picket fence, especially surrounding a traditional home and garden? You have several options in terms of materials to achieve this look, including wood, vinyl, and metal options. While you will have to repaint wood every few years, the others will maintain their good looks indefinitely.

Because these fences are relatively low, they don’t provide much in the way of privacy, but the curb appeal of a crisp white fence can’t be beat!

21. Recycled Metal Fence


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A plain metal or wood stockade fence can be embellished with metal panels for a unique look. Check out second-hand stores or salvage yards for vintage pieces, or buy an assortment of pressed metal ceiling panels in a variety of patterns to create the same look.

22. Turn a Fence into a Planter


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Why not go for something really unique along your fence line? This wall is constructed from a metal cage filled with pebbles, with recesses filled with soil for growing decorative plants. You can plant trailing annuals or perennials such as creeping thyme or sedum to soften the look and create a living wall.

Turn a Fence into a Planter

You can also build a DIY pallet wall planter that hangs from your fence and you can grow various plants! Simply grab an old pallet and create the box area for the soil, make sure you add drainage, and voila!

Read our related post “23 Types of Planters to Enhance Your Outdoor Space” here.

23. Espaliered Fruit Trees


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A fruit tree trained to grow along a wall is a classic in European gardens, and you can easily adapt this technique along a wood or metal fence. If you have a south-facing fence your fruit tree will be protected from cold north winds and benefit from the warm sun. Every spring you’ll have to prune and train the new growth, but over time you’ll end up with a magnificent and productive specimen.

24. Make a Fence out of Doors


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If you like the quirky, why not install old doors along your fence line? You might even be able to get them for free, and certainly for less than the cost of new materials for a fence. Check out yard sales and salvage yards to see what you can find, or even just cruise the neighbourhood on garbage day to see what’s being thrown out by those renovating their homes.

A lot of the charm of this fence will be the mis-matched styles, so have fun and play around with it. You can let the paint weather naturally or paint each one a different bright colour for a real boho feel!

25. Use the Vertical Space to Hang Pots


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Many people plant flowers at the base of a fence, but have you considered using the fence itself to grow plants? Especially in a small yard, you can add a lot more greenery and blooms by attaching pots to the fence.

This is perfect for trailing plants that need height from the ground to reach their full potential, or vines that require support to climb. See how much of a tapestry you can create on your fence to enhance your outdoor living space!

Final Thoughts

While it may seem easier to just put up a simple fence, using the fence line as a canvas for landscape ideas can add immeasurably to your enjoyment of your property. Take the time to walk the length of your fence line and imagine the possibilities of this part of your yard!

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