9 small garden fence ideas – the experts share their top recommendations

The best colours, materials and styles to add privacy and interest to your outdoor space

outdoor patio with painted fence two chairs and a wood burner
(Image credit: David Giles)

Small garden fence ideas have to work hard. In a small space they will have a much bigger impact than they would in a larger garden. So you need to think carefully about what look you're trying to achieve before choosing any old fence. 

A sleek partition might work best if you're aiming for a modern or Zen-like appearance to your small garden ideas, or a slatted fence might help give you that traditional or cottage-inspired vibe. There are a plethora of different options to choose from. 

However, the second big consideration when planning your small garden fence idea is how to create a distinct boundary from your neighbours without making your garden feel smaller. So we asked the experts to share their best advice on how to choose the best garden fence ideas.

Small garden fence ideas

Garden fences have come along way since the standard white picket fence days. Now with a range of colours, sizes and styles to choose from they should be carefully considered as a key part of your garden landscaping ideas.

1. Keep panels short

A garden with a wooden fence in the background

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you don’t want your small garden to feel too closed in, choosing shorter panels of fencing can make a big difference to the way your outdoor space looks and feels. You can ‘maximise the visual appeal of your small garden by keeping fence panels short to ensure light levels remain high and to reduce the feeling of compactness,’ argues Leigh Barnes, Retail Sales Manager at Jacksons Fencing.

This can be a great option for gardens that aren’t overlooked by neighbouring property or passersby. While ‘shorter panels also allow you to steal views from beyond your garden to enhance the natural beauty of the surrounding area,’ Leigh says. 

However, if you are overlooked you can fake the look by installing slatted fencing closer to the top to add height, and retain the light.

2. Embrace a living fencing

Forest Slatted Wall Planter 2 Shelves

(Image credit: Forest)

One of the most common kinds of living fencing, which we’ll all probably be familiar with is hedging. And ‘hedges make for an attractive, affordable, and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional wooden fences,’ declares Henchman’s Executive Chairman, Tom Kitching. ‘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.’ Plus, in most cases, hedging can be much more affordable than a traditional fence.

You can also buy pre-made living wall panels or utilise vertical gardening idea to ‘add dimension and greenery to your space without taking up valuable ground space,’ admits Mike Drouin, Co-Founder of Reefertilizer.

3. Work with woven willow

hazel stem lattice fence at Chelsea Garden Show 2023

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

A woven willow fence is perfect if you are looking to add cottage garden ideas to a small garden. It looks whimsical and will blend in beautifully with traditional cottage garden blooms.

‘Willow branches can be woven together to form a unique and living fence that will continue to grow and change with the seasons,’ Mike adds. They are ideal for growing climbing plants up, or hiding behind a sea of foxgloves or ferns.

4. Add style with a trellis

garden trellis with flowers growing

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

A ‘trellis combines beauty and functionality - either as standalone fences or augmenting existing ones, allowing climbing plants to form a living screen,’ says Glen Peskett, DIY Expert and Owner of Saxton Blades

One of the best things about using a trellis garden idea as part of your fencing is that there are a number of different trellis panels and fences to choose from, whatever your style or budget. You can choose from wooden, metal or even vinyl trellises, as well as unique shapes. 

5. Opt for more contemporary slats

courtyard garden

(Image credit: Future Plc)

‘If you want a contemporary feel in your small garden, horizontal slats are a good fencing choice,’ admits MyJobQuote.co.uk’s Gardening Expert, Fiona Jenkins. ‘You could use a light-toned wood and paint your posts black for a bit of contrast or paint the slats and posts in a light grey to give the boundary a modern makeover.’

In most cases, you will be able to choose the size of the gap between the slats. Finding the right balance between a wider gap, which allows more daylight to shine through and a smaller gap, which will give you more privacy, is key.

6. Create a zen garden with bamboo

garden area with bamboo fence and flower pots

(Image credit: Future Plc/David Giles)

‘Enclosing your space with bamboo can infuse a serene, Zen-like atmosphere,’ according to Tony Williams, Estates Manager at Mount Ephraim. ‘Its polished, sturdy form offers an elegant solution for concealing unsightly walls, with it being available in various colours to harmonise with your home's palette.’ Bamboo also requires minimal upkeep and is relatively DIY-friendly, as well.

Bamboo is a ‘natural, eco-friendly, and cost-effective solution for small gardens,’ Glen agrees. And ‘with proper treatment and installation, it can withstand outdoor conditions for years and minimal upkeep,’ he explains.

7. Go half and half

B&Q GoodHome Neva Lap Trellis panel

(Image credit: B&Q)

‘If your small garden feels too claustrophobic with tall fences but you want a good level of privacy or need to keep your garden enclosed for pets, you could go for a half and half solution,’ Fiona proposes.

‘On the lower half of the fence, use a slatted or lap style fence and on the upper section use trellis or decorative fence toppers for a more open feel.’

8. Create a cohesive colour scheme

outdoor patio with painted fence two chairs and a wood burner

(Image credit: COATS Paint)

If you adding more hard-landscaping to your small garden than greenery, then consider matching the colour of your fence to the patio and garden furniture. This colour-drenching technique is often used inside the home to make rooms look bigger and can work miracles outside the house too. 

It is a smart budget garden idea to upgrade your fence without tearing it down. Simply invest in good quality outdoor paint that is suitable for fences and get painting. 

9. Build in features

Crates stacked to create an outdoor kitchen

(Image credit: Future PLC)

‘In a smaller garden when you're limited on what you can do with the space, you can use your fencing as the backdrop for other garden accessories,’ suggests Holly Dolan, Founder and CEO of HUME Interior Studio.

‘How about adding a garden fold out bar from your fence for entertaining friends and family in the summer months or a stylish garden mirror to make the space bigger,’ Holly adds. With space at a premium in a smaller garden, using your fence to extend the space visually can help to make a small space look and feel bigger.

FAQs

What is the most affordable type of garden fencing?

The price of a garden fence can range anywhere from a few hundred pounds into the thousands – and that doesn’t include installation – so it’s important to decide which option works best for you and your budget. 

‘Wire fencing is often the most economical choice - readily available, easy to install, and requiring minimal upkeep,’ Glen outlines. While ‘bamboo fencing is another cost-effective option, offering a natural look at a lower price point.’

What is the best fence colour for a small garden?

This all depends on the landscaping within your garden. If you are planning to blend your fence into your garden borders the best fence colour to make a garden look bigger is a dark green or similar dark shade that will recede into the planting. ‘Using a soft sage or green colour can blend better with your garden's surroundings and therefore provide a softer edge to your garden,’ says Gardenstone’s Landscaping Expert, Tom Clifford.

However, if your fence is on the edge of a patio without any planting in front of it you are best opting for a lighter shade. ‘In a small garden, lighter fence colours like white, cream, or pale pastels tend to work best,’ Glen says. Jamie Robinson, Installation Manager at Value Doors, concurs. ‘It's arguably better to opt for light and neutral tones, such as white, beige, or light grey. These colours create an illusion of space and brightness, making the garden appear larger than it actually is.’

What type of fences makes a small garden look bigger?

‘Horizontal lines in fence panels, such as those found in Venetian or slatted designs, can visually elongate the space, and create the illusion of a larger garden,’ Leigh adds.

Essentially, you want to ‘avoid visually heavy or imposing fences that may overwhelm the limited space of a small garden,’ Glen concludes.

Ellis Cochrane
Contributor

Ellis Cochrane has been a Freelance Contributor for Ideal Home since 2023. She graduated with a Joint Honours degree in Politics and English from the University of Strathclyde and between her exams and graduation, started a lifestyle blog where she would share what she was buying, reading and doing. In doing so, she created opportunities to work with some of her dream brands and discovered the possibility of freelance writing, after always dreaming of writing for magazines when she was growing up.


Since then, she has contributed to a variety of online and print publications, covering everything from celebrity news and beauty reviews to her real passion; homes and interiors. She started writing about all things homes, gardens and interiors after joining Decor & Design Scotland as a Freelance Journalist and Social Media Account Manager in 2021. She then started freelancing at House Beautiful, Country Living and in Stylist’s Home team. Ellis is currently saving to buy her first home in Glasgow with far too many Pinterest boards dedicated to her many design ideas and inspirations.