Turn borders and boundaries into features and focal points with these inspirational ideas for garden wall designs.
When it comes to landscaping the exterior of your home, walls are often something of a forgotten quantity. Many people focus all their attentions on the surface of their gardens (grass, gravel or decking?) and the plant life with which they populate them, treating walls and fences as an afterthought – if they’re even considered at all.
However, such an approach forgoes the opportunity to add some real creative flair to your outdoor area and even leverage the space for practical purposes. After all, you wouldn’t countenance bare or unpainted walls inside your home, so why should the external façade be any different? Whether it’s an alluringly tiled mosaic, an invigorating vertical garden or an ambitious mural, there are countless ideas in which you can re-invent the space available to you.
Here are a dozen suggestions to serve as a jumping-off point and get that brainstorming for how best to handle your outdoor walls, fences and other vertical surfaces.
1) Bring your home to life with a living wall
Who says you have to live in the countryside to experience the greenery and splendour of Mother Nature? A living wall is a fantastic way to maximise the space available to you, introduce some biodiversity into your back yard and take advantage of the air purifying qualities of our plant friends, all in a single stroke.
For a display that really teems with lush and leafy fertility, consider a wall-to-wall, floor-to-roof arrangement of ferns and flowers like the one pictured above. This will guarantee maximum foliage per square metre and enhance the eco-friendliness of your space at the same time, while the stacked nature of the display means that only the top row of plants will require thorough watering and gravity will handle all the irrigation complications.
2) Lend the kitchen a helping hand with a herb garden
Another way to introduce greenery into your wall and increase its practical value is through the installation of a vertical herb garden. Not only will you benefit from having all the ingredients on hand to whip up your latest culinary creation, but you’ll also adorn a bare surface with some eye-catching additions.
There are many ways to go about crafting your own vertical herb masterpiece, including more standard solutions like the trough planters pictured above. On the other hand, you could get creative and repurpose used materials around the home. Hanging shoe organisers, for example, are the perfect size and structure to cultivate herbs, while even tin cans and soft drink bottles can make for an artful arrangement after painting.
3) Upcycle furniture
Shabby chic is a popular option right now and offers the secondary benefit of repurposing old and unwanted items, thereby helping to support sustainability. The incongruousness of an indoor piece of furniture in an outdoor setting can create a delightfully whimsical impact, while an item that’s deemed too scruffy for the house will look perfectly at home al fresco.
Upcycling ladders (as pictured above) is one option, but there are plenty of alternative ways to introduce furniture into your wall design, too. Place an old bookcase or dresser against the side of the house and fill its shelves and drawers to overflowing with trailing plants and gorgeous blooms for a quaint and nostalgic effect.
4) Mirror, mirror on the wall
It might be the oldest trick in the book, but using mirrors to create the illusion of enlarged dimensions is a tried and tested method of making the most of smaller spaces. That’s equally true for your back yard as it is for your box room, so experiment with different mirror sizes and styles to maximise the space available to you.
For optimum impact, a wall-to-wall mirror will really enhance the effect of the optical illusion, effectively doubling the visual size of your garden. Alternatively, you could try out more sophisticated design deceits, such as the mirrored doorway pictured above. Adding in a set of open doors and a pebble pathway leading right up to the base of the reflective surface really adds to the aesthetic appeal of the design, creating the impression that a secret world awaits on the other side of the looking glass.
5) Succulent artwork
The walls of your home are likely lined with examples of your favourite artwork, so why not continue the theme outdoors? Of course, watercolours and oilskins are not best suited to the elements, so you might want to substitute the Pablo Picassos for cacti and the John Singer Sargents for succulents to create an alternative type of artistic display.
Specially designed trays are widely available for wall hanging, with individual planting cells at angled gradients to allow for easy drainage and aeration of the soil. All that’s needed is a little bit of horticultural magic in terms of the arrangement and a weathered wooden frame to finish off the piece and voila! You’ll have your next mounted masterpiece ready for exhibition in next to no time.
6) Flames and firewood
A backyard firepit is the perfect way to enhance your garden’s usability throughout the colder months of the year, injecting some much-needed warmth into the space and introducing a focal point for its surroundings all at once. Wall-mounted fireplaces are especially in vogue right now, given their modern aesthetic and space-saving dimensions.
Complete the look by surrounding the fireplace with chopped timber (either for practical uses or ornamental purposes only) to really accentuate the theme. The jumble of logs will create a pleasingly haphazard jigsaw appearance, while the crackling dance of the flames will turn an otherwise inhospitable area into the cosiest and snuggest of back garden spaces imaginable. One thing’s for sure – your rustic setup will be the envy of any friend or family member who swings by to warm their feet by the fire.
7) Arrest the gaze with glazed tiles
One overlooked medium of wall decoration is glazed tiling. While you might normally associate such a design with your bathroom or kitchen, it can pay big dividends to plump for a bold colour choice and cover an entire wall in a single shade of richly glossed glazed tiles. As well as creating a strong backdrop which can complement your choice of plants, flowers and garden furniture, glazed tiles offer a constantly changing aesthetic, as well, since their rippled surface will be highlighted in different tones as the sun’s rays play across them throughout the day.
You can add even more intrigue to your tiled surface by thinking outside of the box and selecting tiles in unusual shapes. Square and rectangular tiles are the traditional choice and can certainly serve their purpose, but more left-field alternatives like lozenges, hexagons and triangles can inject a dose of dynamism and contemporary charm into your garden. Just make sure you opt for frost-proof materials and you’ll find them to be an extremely resilient and low-maintenance surface to work with.
8) Add texture for interest
Not all design schemes have to revolve around visual impact alone. A textured garden wall brings stimulation through its tactile qualities, as well. This can be achieved through the simplest of designs with a traditional brick-and-mortar wall, the subtle undulations of which can be charming in their imperfection, but the familiarity of such a surface might mean you wish to push the boat out a little further.
If that’s the case, there are plenty of three-dimensional styles available to you. You could go from an industrial aesthetic via jutting concrete slabs; you could make a statement with a custom-made screen to act as a backdrop to your barbecuing area; or you could opt for a more hands-on playground approach by introducing a climbing wall into your back garden. Whichever type of textured wall you favour, remember to add artful up-lighting, which will accentuate its features when the sun sinks behind the horizon.
9) Play with light and shadow
Speaking of illumination, you shouldn’t neglect the choice of lighting when it comes to dreaming up the design scheme for you garden walls and fences. A few well-placed lamps can accentuate the existing décor you have in place or even create an entirely new one all on their own. In the image featured above, for example, a rather plain and even shabby fence becomes an enchanting backdrop to a space that seems almost performative, all thanks to the arrangement of a few lights and candles.
Again, it’s very important to match the individual items with the overarching theme here. Wrought-iron lanterns are excellent for underscoring an antiquated aesthetic, while orb-shaped, solar-powered lamps bring a more futuristic feel to the garden. Fairy lights, paper lanterns and gas lamps are all other options that would look equally impressive in the right space, so make sure you tailor your lighting choices to the other components of your display.
10) Balance privacy and panache with a metal screen
There’s a lot to be said for the intricate designs and decorative beauty of a cut metal screen. By substituting a traditional wall or fence made of stone or wood for a fretwork screen that has been painstakingly etched from metal, you can allow natural light to filter into your space, yet still retain a strong degree of privacy. Plus, the screens require very little in the way of upkeep and can actually look better with age, even if they begin to show signs of corrosion.
You can choose from a plethora of ready-made designs incorporating all kinds of elements, from single motifs repeated wholescale across the surface to sophisticated pieces of art depicting scenes or relating a worded message. You can even commission a metalworker to create your very own! The choice of materials will have a bearing on the ultimate effect, as well, with something like powder-coated aluminium creating a suave and stylish look in the colour of your choice, while Corten Steel will mimic the artistry of accumulated rust to give a weather-beaten feel.
11) Bold is beautiful
There is a tendency in Great Britain to stick to sober, muted tones when it comes to designing garden walls and fences. Homeowners will often leave the surface in the original colour of its raw material (so timber, stone or cement) or else paint it in an unadventurous shade of white or grey. That works extremely well if your preferences are of a more conventional persuasion, but there’s much to be said for taking things up a notch.
Indeed, being bold with your brushstrokes can pay off handsomely in the overall impact of your garden’s display, especially if you tie the colours into your existing décor. For example, the strong primary colours that are featured in the image above provide a pleasing contrast and recall more exotic design schemes of far-flung lands, but you can still retain a British aesthetic with bold colours if you plan your design tastefully.
12) Maximise the magic with a mural
On the subject of grand designs, they don’t get much grander than painting a mural onto the façade of your home, garage or outhouse. While this type of decoration is normally reserved for street art or special occasions, there’s no reason why you can’t introduce the same ambitious artwork into the domestic sphere.
Of course, it’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and one that should probably involve the services of a professional unless you’re a keen painter yourself – otherwise you’ll soon find out the difference between art and graffiti. But when it’s pitched right, a full-scale mural can expand the space available to you and add a focal point to your garden that is sure to set the tongues of all visitors wagging. For best results, choose complementary, receding colours and avoid specific details to blur the lines between the building and the backdrop beyond.