How to Landscape Around a Fence

White landscaped fence

A fence does more than define the perimeters of your garden. It offers an array of creative landscaping opportunities to enliven your yard with color, texture, and life. Knowing how to landscape around a fence can significantly enhance both the beauty and functionality of your outdoor space.

With a blend of creativity and strategic planning, you can achieve a stunning fence line without straining your wallet. Here’s a guide to help.

Step 1: Planning and Design

Assess Your Space

Examine your fence closely. Is it wooden, metal, or another material? Does it require repair or a fresh coat of paint? These initial observations will set the tone for your landscaping design.

Next, evaluate the space around the fence. How much sunlight does it receive? What’s the soil type? Do you have any plants already growing there? This assessment will guide you in selecting suitable plants and design elements that thrive in your specific conditions.

Define Your Goals

Ask yourself: What do I want to achieve? Whether it’s enhancing privacy, adding aesthetic value, or both, your goals will shape your landscaping plan. For example, if privacy is a priority, focus on tall, dense plantings. If aesthetics are your main concern, a blend of flowering plants and ornamental grasses might be the way to go.

Step 2: Prepare the Fence

Professional fence repair
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Inspect and Repair

Before planting, make sure your fence is in good condition. Repair any damages and ensure it’s sturdy enough to support climbing plants or additional structures. If your fence is wooden or metal, it may need some TLC. Repair any loose boards or rusted areas, and consider a power wash to rejuvenate its appearance.

Paint or Stain

A good-looking fence is the foundation of great fence line landscaping. Choose a color that complements your home and garden. For wooden fences, use a stain with ultraviolet inhibitors and mildewcide to protect against the elements. For metal fences, apply a rust-inhibiting primer to prevent corrosion.

Step 3: Choose the Right Plants

Landscaping around your fence can transform it into a picturesque boundary that’s both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Let’s explore a variety of plant species, each with its own unique requirements, to help you create a vibrant and thriving fence line garden.

Evergreen Shrubs for Year-Round Privacy

Evergreen shrubs behind a fence
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Boxwood (Buxus spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Buxus Sempervirens
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to Full Sun
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-draining
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral (6.5-7.0)
  • Hardiness: 5-9

Boxwood, the evergreen artist of gardens, offers more than just timeless elegance. Its lush, dense foliage not only shapes our spaces but ensures a year-round privacy fence, turning any garden into a secluded haven of vibrant green serenity.

Holly (Ilex spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Ilex Aquifolium
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, Rich
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Slightly Acidic (5.0-6.0)
  • Hardiness: Zones 5-9

With glossy green leaves and vivid red berries, Holly is a classic choice for adding structure and color to your fence line. It’s perfect for crafting a living privacy screen that doubles as a winter wonderland when the snow falls.

Juniper (Juniperus spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Juniperus Communis
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, Sandy
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Slightly Acidic (5.0-6.0)
  • Hardiness: Zones 2-9

Juniper, with its resilient nature and versatile forms, is an excellent choice for creating a natural barrier. Whether you need a low ground cover or a tall screen, there’s a juniper variety that fits the bill. Its hardiness and ease of care make it ideal for fence line landscaping, providing year-round greenery with minimal effort.

Arborvitae (Thuja spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Thuja Occidentalis
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-draining
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Alkaline (6.0-8.0)
  • Hardiness: Zones 2-7

Arborvitae, particularly the ‘Emerald Green’ variety, is a top pick for creating lush, living fences. This cultivar is known for its vibrant green, compact foliage and narrow, upright growth habit. It’s an excellent choice for adding both privacy and elegance to your landscape, requiring minimal pruning and care to maintain its attractive appearance.

Yew (Taxus spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Taxus Baccata
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-draining
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Neutral (6.0-7.0)
  • Hardiness: Zones 5-7

Yew is renowned for its elegant, soft needle-like leaves and adaptability to pruning and shaping. It’s an excellent option for a polished and formal look, offering a dense evergreen barrier that can be sculpted to fit any garden design.

Flowering Plants for a Pop of Color

Vinyl fence with flowers
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Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)

  • Botanical Name: Hydrangea Macrophylla
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Sun
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-draining, Rich
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Slightly Acidic (4.5-6.5)
  • Hardiness: Zones 5-9

Hydrangeas, with their grandiose blooms, are like nature’s own fireworks display. They bring a burst of color to your fence line, creating a lively and inviting atmosphere in any garden setting.

Lavender (Lavandula spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Lavandula Angustifolia
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, Poor to Moderately Fertile
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Slightly Alkaline (6.5-7.5)
  • Hardiness: Zones 5-10

Lavender, the fragrant herald of summer, is a feast for the senses. Its soothing scent and delicate purple flowers add a touch of elegance and tranquility, making any fence line feel like a stroll through a Provencal garden.

Roses (Rosa spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Rosa ‘New Dawn’
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, Moist, Well-draining
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Slightly Acidic (6.0-6.5)
  • Hardiness: Zones 5-9

Roses, the timeless symbol of beauty and love, transform any fence into a romantic canvas. With a rainbow of colors and a variety of forms, they create a stunning visual and aromatic experience.

Peony (Paeonia spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Paeonia Lactiflora
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Soil Type: Rich, Well-draining
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral (6.5-7.0)
  • Hardiness: 3-8

Peonies offer a display of large, lush blooms in the late spring. Their captivating beauty and sweet scent make them a favorite for gardeners looking to add a touch of romance to their landscapes.

Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Alkaline (6.0-8.0)
  • Hardiness: 3-9

Their vibrant, trumpet-shaped blooms and robust nature make them a hassle-free choice for brightening up fence lines. With a vast array of colors and sizes, daylilies are versatile and undemanding, thriving in a variety of conditions.

Climbing Plants for a Natural Fence

White picket fence
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Clematis (Clematis spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Clematis ‘Jackmanii’
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-draining
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Slightly Acidic (5.7-5.4)
  • Hardiness: Zones 4-11

Clematis, the queen of climbers, drapes your fence in royal elegance. Its large, star-shaped blooms create a cascade of color, turning an ordinary fence into a vertical garden masterpiece.

Ivy (Hedera spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Hedera Helix
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to Full Shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, Fertile
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Slightly Acidic (5.5-6.5)
  • Hardiness: Zones 4-9

Ivy, with its lush green tendrils, adds a touch of English countryside charm. This versatile climber can transform even the most mundane fence into a living wall of greenery.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)

  • Botanical Name: Lonicera periclymenum
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, Fertile
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Alkaline (5.5 to 8.0)
  • Hardiness: Zones 4-9

Honeysuckle is nature’s own sweetly-scented garland. Its tubular flowers, ranging from vibrant yellows to delicate pinks, attract a symphony of wildlife, making your fence line a hotspot for hummingbirds and butterflies.

Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans)

  • Botanical Name: Campsis Radicans
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Soil Type: Well-draining, Fertile
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Alkaline (6.5-8.0)
  • Hardiness: Zones 5-9

Trumpet Vine, with its flamboyant, trumpet-shaped flowers, brings a tropical flair to your garden. Its vigorous growth and vibrant colors make it an excellent choice for creating a lush, living fence.

Morning Glory (Ipomoea spp.)

Botanical Name: Ipomoea Tricolor

Sun Exposure: Full Sun

Soil Type: Well-draining, Moderately Fertile

Soil pH: Acidic to Slightly Acidic (6.0 to 6.8)

Hardiness: Zones 2-11

Morning Glory, known for its enchanting, funnel-shaped flowers, greets each day with vibrant hues. This fast-growing climber is perfect for adding a splash of color to your fence line from summer to fall.

Low-Maintenance Plant Selection Tips

Creating a beautiful fence line doesn’t mean you have to be a full-time gardener. Here are some tips for choosing plants that keep your garden looking great with minimal effort:

  • Embrace Native Plants: Going native is not just a trend; it’s a smart gardening choice. Plants native to your area naturally adapt to local weather and soil conditions, requiring less water, fertilizer, and fuss. They also provide essential habitats for local wildlife.
  • Thrive with Drought-Tolerant Plants: Consider plants like sedums, Russian sage, or yucca. These hardy perennials withstand dry spells, meaning less watering and worry for you.
  • Seek Out Long Bloomers: Plants that flower for extended periods are like the gift that keeps on giving. They keep your fence line vibrant and colorful without the need for constant change-outs. Perennials like coneflowers and black-eyed Susans are great examples.
  • Opt for Low-Growth Varieties: Plants that grow slowly or have a compact growth habit mean less pruning and trimming for you. This choice is particularly beneficial for busy homeowners who want to enjoy a beautiful landscape without constant upkeep.
  • Choose Disease-Resistant Varieties: Nothing can be more disheartening than plants that fall prey to pests or diseases. Plants that naturally resist pests and diseases save you from the hassle and expense of frequent treatments. Look for varieties bred for their hardiness, and you’ll enjoy a healthy, vibrant garden with less work.
  • Group by Needs: Simplify your project by grouping plants with similar water, sunlight, and soil needs. This strategic approach reduces the time you’ll spend on maintenance and ensures each plant gets exactly what it needs to thrive.

Step 4: Planting and Maintenance

Seasonal garden trees trimming
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Lay the Foundation

Start by preparing the soil along your fence line. Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris. Amend the soil with compost or other organic matter to improve its quality, especially if you’re dealing with poor soil conditions.

Planting Strategy

With your plants selected, it’s time to start planting. Remember to space them according to their mature size to avoid overcrowding. Place taller plants towards the back and shorter ones in front for a layered look. This creates depth and ensures each plant receives adequate sunlight.

Mulch and Water

After planting, apply a layer of mulch around your new plants. This helps retain moisture, suppresses weeds, and gives your garden a finished look. Water your plants thoroughly, especially in the initial weeks, to help them establish roots in their new environment.

Now that you know which plants you’ll be using, it’s time to prepare your fence line for planting. Start by removing any existing grass, weeds, or debris along the fence. Create flower beds with a natural curve to achieve a seamless appearance.

Add some organic matter like compost or manure to the soil in your planting area for best results. This will boost nutrients and help create ideal growing conditions for your new plants.

Pruning and Trimming

Regular pruning ensures optimal growth and prevents overcrowding among plants. Trim shrubs seasonally based on their individual needs, keeping them in good shape without blocking views or overwhelming smaller neighbors.

Protect Your New Garden from Pests

Use natural pest control methods wherever possible: predatory insects can prevent harmful pests from damaging your fence line plants without resorting to harsh chemicals hazardous to wildlife or yourself.

Step 5: Creative Landscaping Ideas

Animal sculptural fountain near a fence
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Unleashing your creativity is key to transforming a plain fence into a stunning landscape feature. Let’s dive into some imaginative yet practical ideas:

A Touch of Art

Don’t just think green; think color, texture, and form. Incorporating art pieces, like decorative metal sculptures or ceramic ornaments, adds an unexpected twist to your fence line. Choose pieces that reflect your personal style and complement the natural beauty of your plants.

Add a Water Feature

Enhancing your fence line with a water feature can significantly elevate the ambiance of your garden. Whether it’s a gracefully trickling fountain or a serene birdbath, the presence of water adds a calming effect to your outdoor space. The gentle sound of flowing water provides a tranquil background, perfect for relaxation.

Functional Beauty

Consider integrating functional elements that double as decor. Bird baths or feeders not only attract wildlife but also serve as charming focal points. Similarly, a well-placed bench or a series of stepping stones can add both utility and aesthetic appeal.

Incorporate Vertical Gardening

Don’t let limited ground space restrict your gardening dreams. Utilize the vertical plane by adding trellises or hanging baskets. This approach saves space and adds an extra dimension to your fence line. Vines like clematis or sweet peas create a living tapestry while hanging baskets filled with petunias or geraniums provide bursts of color.

Illuminate Your Space

Lighting plays a crucial role in creating ambiance. Solar-powered lanterns or string lights draped along the fence can transform your garden into a magical evening retreat. Position lights to highlight specific plants or art pieces for a dramatic nighttime effect.

Incorporate Hardscaping

Mixing soft plant life with hard materials like stone or wood creates a balanced landscape. Consider building raised garden beds along the fence line or installing a decorative trellis for climbing plants. These structures not only add depth but also help organize your garden space.

Play with Color and Texture

When selecting plants, think beyond green. Variegated foliage, vibrant flowers, and different textures add depth and interest. For instance, pairing the soft fronds of ornamental grasses with the glossy leaves of evergreens creates a striking contrast.

Engage the Senses

Create a sensory experience by choosing plants for their scent and sound. Fragrant flowers like lavender or jasmine near seating areas can be delightful. The rustling sound of grasses or the gentle tinkling of wind chimes adds an auditory dimension to your garden.

FAQ About Landscaping Around a Fence

How close can I plant to my fence?

The distance from the fence depends on the plant’s growth habits. Planting smaller plants and shrubs about 2-3 feet away from the fence allows enough room for growth and maintenance. For larger shrubs or trees, consider planting them further away, at least 4-6 feet, to accommodate their root systems and prevent potential damage to the fence.

What happens if I plant a tree too close to my fence?

Planting a tree too close to a fence can lead to several issues. The tree’s roots might grow into the fence foundation, causing structural damage. Also, branches can rub against the fence, leading to wear and tear. Over time, a tree that’s too close can even push over the fence due to its growth.

Which plant is best for a boundary wall?

For boundary walls, evergreen shrubs like Boxwood or Arborvitae are fantastic choices. They provide year-round privacy, are easy to maintain, and can be shaped to match your aesthetic preferences. If you’re looking for something taller, consider Juniper or Holly. These plants offer both privacy and a touch of natural beauty to your boundary wall.

How do I cover the bad side of a fence?

To cover the less attractive side of a fence, climbing plants are your best friends. Clematis, Ivy, and Honeysuckle can beautifully mask any imperfections, adding a splash of color and texture. Additionally, installing trellises and growing climbers like Morning Glory or Trumpet Vine can create a visually appealing cover.

If you prefer a quicker solution, decorative panels or hanging planters with vibrant flowers can also do the trick.

Your Dream Fence Line Landscape Awaits

Transforming your fence line into a visually appealing and functional landscape is an enriching DIY project. It’s not just about adding beauty; it’s about creating an inviting space that enhances curb appeal and reflects your personal style. With the right design ideas, you can turn an ordinary fence into a stunning feature of your garden. However, if you feel the need for expert guidance or assistance in bringing these ideas to life, we can connect you with experienced landscaping contractors. They can help you achieve the perfect balance of beauty and functionality in your outdoor space.

Main Photo Credit: johannes.k / Canva Pro / License

Adrian Nita

When he first helped his grandfather build a picket fence, his fascination with fences was born. Adrian is a former marine navigation officer turned writer who enjoys nothing more than discussing the craftsmanship and beauty of fencing systems. He turned his passion for fences into a profession where he shares advice and tips on fence materials, designs, and maintenance.