Fascinating Fence Follies

Bee Better Naturally with Helen Yoest


Photo by Peter Mason on Unsplash

Warm and welcoming, fences surround the property and tie the home and garden together, making the area from the front door to the fence an extension of the ground floor. The fence, acting as a barrier between your home and the hustle and bustle of daily life, provides you with privacy and protection. But fences can be so much more. A fence can also serve as your folly—a place to turn a functional fence area into something fun and whimsical, too.


Photo by Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash

Fences can convey feelings. Seeing fences along a country road conjures up the comfort of a space that is open and yet so well contained. There is just something cozy about a white picket fence. Any fence that pairs nicely with your own home’s style will stir up a warm, homey feeling to all passersby.


Photo by Vicky Sim on Unsplash

However, choosing a fence material doesn’t dictate the style. A material can lend itself to various styles. Metal fencing materials aren’t only for formal styles, although they are often seen surrounding a formal home.

The materials for fence selection should complement those in your house. A painted picket fence adds charm to a clapboard home painted the same color. A wrought iron fence adds an air of formality, echoing your formal style. Similarly, Craftsman-style homes should have a similar style fence, or the two will not harmonize with each other.

When selecting a fence style, a good place to start narrowing down your design options is by repeating or mimicking details found elsewhere in the home’s architecture. If your porch railing is in a Chippendale design, then this style will work wonderfully for your fence. If your porch railing is made of wood, using wood as your fence material is a natural choice.

Whether you have an existing fence or plan to install a fence in the future, consider planting a garden as well. A fence is the perfect folly to any garden, an opportunity not to be missed. Fences become accents in garden designs, a wonderful backdrop for garden beds.

Setting the fence back from the curb or street allows for an area to be planted as a garden in front of the fence. Add a gate to provide visitors an opportunity to pause and admire the garden as they open the garden gate to pass through.

Consider the depth of your front-of-fence garden. It could be narrow, a mere six inches, with just a fluff of greenery, such as Liriope, to soften the edge. Or you could add an area three or four feet deep for a full-scale garden. The bed shouldn’t be too deep for you to reach it for garden maintenance from just one side.

Think about adding plants for year-round interest. After all, your folly will be a focal point as well. Layering with trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, grasses, bulbs and vines, and adding a mix of herbaceous and evergreen plantings will give the design enough variety to maintain interest in every season.

Fencing on the sides of the property and in the backyard offers the perfect structure to use as a backdrop to your garden plantings. Fences can be left unpainted or painted your favorite color to give interest and provide year-round color.

If nothing else, your fence can be a conversation starter. Your personal style will decide if the fence will match the home—or the color of your favorite iris. The entire fence may not support such bold painting, but a dedicated corner could be your spot to get creative. Adding a fence gives opportunity for folly in the garden and freedom to express yourself.


If your home has an unattractive galvanized chain-link fence, there are a few things you can do to keep this from being an eyesore, beyond over-planting it to hide it. Painting the fence a deep forest green, nearly black, will make the fence visually disappear. Taking the harsh metal finish and softening it to a background color found in nature will let the fence blend in with the surroundings better.

Another idea is to soften the fence with a cover-up. When we moved into our current home, there was a galvanized fence along the back of the property line. To soften the fence, we attached panels of reed fencing. These can be bought either online or at garden centers and big box stores for the purpose of covering an eyesore, without investing much money. They are easy to install and fast: a panel can go up in less than a half an hour. They are not a permanent solution, but they are long-lasting. My current reed fence panels have been in place for 10 years and are just starting to show some wear.

Comments / 0

Published by

Pollinator-friendly, sustainable, good design

Raleigh, NC

More from Bee Better Naturally with Helen Yoest

Comments / 0