Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Ideas for Landscaping Against a Fence

clematis image by madlen stahl from

In smaller urban yards, a fence can be one of the largest features of the “landscape.” Use the architecture of the fence as a backdrop, and create a landscape either in front of or upon it. For an attractive fence, choose landscape plants that highlight its presence. To cover up an unsightly fence, choose landscape plants that hide it.


For purely vertical landscaping, choose a vine to scramble up and over your fence. Plant ivy for a calming wall of foliage or one of the many perennial vines, such as clemetis or honeysuckle. If you'd like to change the flowers from year to year, plant annuals. They're quick growing and you can change their color scheme every year. Morning glory and moonflower are fast-growing annual vines that quickly cover even the tallest fence. The flowers of morning glories open for a few hours in the morning and come in shades of blue, pink, purple and white-striped. Moonflowers' blossoms open at night and are pure white. Interestingly, they are related and their flowers are nearly identical, except for the times of day that they open. On cloudy mornings, they may be open simultaneously for a little while.

Low-growing Shrubs

Plant an ornamental shrub border with the fence as a backdrop. Use the shape and architecture of the shrubs and their silhouette against the fence as much as their color, leaf type, flowers and growth requirements when choosing which types to grow. The pyramidal shape of dwarf conifers, such as spruce or fir, make a bold statement silhouetted against the stark backdrop of a solid fence. Broad-leaf evergreens add a variety of shapes, as well as a softer touch of green, especially during the winter months. Deciduous shrubs, such as redosier dogwood, forsythia and euonymus, all possess interesting bark, flowers and autumn color, which provides interest all year long and brightens up the backdrop of evergreens.

Espalier Fruit Trees

Said to produce the tastiest and most perfect looking fruit, espalier is a technique where a fruit tree is pruned and trained to grow on a single vertical plane, although almost any type of shrub or tree can be trained as an espalier. They are perfect candidates for landscaping against a fence. Wires are fastened at several heights to posts secured into the ground directly in front of the fence at either end. The espalier “whips” are planted in front of the strung wire. As the trees grow, most branches are removed but a few are selected to form the skeleton of the tree and these are fastened to the wires. Most often espalier are trained into a “V” shape, with a central leader and three branches on each side making up the width of the “V.” Another popular shape is the candelabra, in which the branches are gradually bent until they form a “U” shape. Espalier trees are labor intensive at all stages of their life and must be trained as espalier from the time they are planted.

Garden Guides