Small garden fence ideas – 9 ways to add style and structure to a small outdoor space

It’s official: these are the best small garden fence ideas for balconies, rooftops and compact courtyards

a small garden with a mix of different fence styles
(Image credit: Garden Club London)

Armed with the top small garden fence ideas, you can completely revitalize your cozy outdoor space. Along with providing a barrier between the wind and your potted plants, and clearly outlining the edge of your outdoor perimeter – carefully-considered fencing in urban environments can inject big styles into small spaces.

The good news? No matter the footprint of your bijou balcony, compact courtyard, or tiny terrace – there is a range of clever small garden ideas to help define your outdoor living setup. However, as garden designer and founder of Garden Club London, Tony Woods, tells us, there are a few pointers to keep in mind.

‘Be as creative as you want,’ Tony says. ‘But get your base work and foundations installed well. Also, ensure that no paint affects the neighboring plants or drips down to ruin the look of next door’s fence.'

'You can also use contrasting colors and cladding to add depth and interest to the whole garden to make a huge difference to the whole scheme. It is a cost and effort often forgotten about by many homeowners. But treat your fence like your interior walls – with thought and care – to gain the best results in a small space.’ 

So, to add some style and privacy to your small outdoor living set-up, keep scrolling. Or for more ways to tick off the dreamiest garden trends of 2022, head this way.

Modern small garden fence ideas for your compact space 

1. Think vertically 

a vertical slatted fence surrounded by greenery in a small garden

(Image credit: Garden Club London)

You only have to look at the top garden trends of 2022 to know that sustainability is at the top of the agenda this year. So make your fences stand out, not blend in, with quality timber edging that adds style and substance without (quite literally) costing the earth.

‘Vertical detail fences allow you to create a real focal point and contemporary detailing in the garden using high-quality timber in either a painted or natural finish,' says Garden Club London’s Tony Woods. 'They are best used on one boundary as a statement and are also very effective at adding interest when lit from below with soft warm white lighting.’

2. Bring the inside, outside 

a courtyard garden design with slatted fences

(Image credit: Garden Club London)

Never has the phrase ‘bring the outside in’ been more prominent here. Your outside space really is an extension of your home. So why not put your own interior design style and color stamp on your fencing? If you've got modern gray interiors, simply continue this way of decorating and inject it into your outdoors, as in this modern courtyard garden idea

Plus, along with helping to add your own design spin on your outdoor living space, painting your fencing comes with a range of benefits.

'Painting makes the fence last longer and it is a popular choice as it allows you to extend the interior color scheme into the garden quite seamlessly,’ Tony explains. ‘It provides a fresh and consistent backdrop for planting and other garden features.’

3. Add a weaved fence

a weaved natural garden fence

(Image credit: Holly Lepere)

City-living but dreaming of countryside chic? Then romanticize your outdoor living space with natural, rustic-looking weaved fences or get creative with tree branches that look good and do good.

‘Weaved fences have a lovely naturalistic feel to them and can bring a real cottage or country garden feel to any garden even in the city,’ Tony explains. 

‘They are great for growing climbing plants on and it is a popular choice for homeowners on a budget or conscious of carbon footprint and source as they can usually be bought relatively locally.’

Along with adding greenery to your outdoor space, climbing plants also work as a  privacy fence idea and help guard against noisy neighbors. 


4. Colour your fence happy 

outdoor office space with desk and chair

(Image credit: Habitat)

Bringing color into your outdoor spaces is always a good idea. However, color shouldn't just be reserved for your flowers. Take fresh color accents to your fence to bring some extra energy to your small space.  

A pop of color is a great tip for how to make a small garden feel bigger and add some drama to proceedings. You can find both exterior paint and stain in bold colors for your fences. The former will give you an opaque painted finish, while the latter will retain the natural quality of the wood, but give it a saturated makeover. Whatever your choice, both will help protect wood and make it last longer, but exterior paint can also be used on PVC and metal fences too. 

5. Bring in the light 

Modern apartment in the BBC Television Centre’s Crescent

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

It's important to make your space look as light and bright as possible to maximize the look and feel of your small space. And you can do this by picking fencing that lets the light in. Just take the railings from this balcony garden idea for example. They outline the edge of the outdoor perimeter while casting pretty shadows onto the decking. 

But how could you create the same impact with a small garden? Leigh Barnes, from Jacksons Fencing suggests, 'Choosing a semi-solid fence panel, or a fence panel with a trellis combination. Pairing a solid fence panel for privacy at the bottom, with a semi-solid top or trellis topper keeps light streaming into the garden.'

6. Blur the lines 

Roof top garden with wicker chair and plants in pots

(Image credit: James Merrell)

When you need fencing for a roof garden idea, sometimes, a solid wall of fencing can make your space seem smaller than it actually is. You're already limited with the footprint, so work with what space you have got and blur the boundary lines by using low green fencing that emulates the color of nature. 

The finishing touch? An abundance of potted plants will make your urban outdoor living space seem like a calming green haven. We're sold! 

7. Create a feature wall 

a chalkboard wall set into fences in a small garden

(Image credit: Barbara Samtier)

Who said fences had to be boring? Not us. When thinking about how to design a small garden, consider that garden fences can be functional and fun. Just like this garden, which sees a chalkboard wall meet a slated fence for a really fun, creative feel that works perfectly with the simple but stunning rest of the space. 

'In small gardens, there is more opportunity to be creative,' Leigh says. 'You need less fencing than larger gardens so budgets can be larger. Combining fence panels is a great way to create a unique garden fence that caters to your needs. Consider creating a feature ‘wall’ or installing trellis so that climbing plants can be supported to add vertical growing space.'

8. Add a hedge 

treat your fence like your interior walls – with thought and care

(Image credit: Garden Club London)

Adding hedges to your garden is a great way to surround your outside space with greenery and privacy – just like this bright idea from Garden Club London. 

Dense hedges can be great for privacy, and combined with half-height fences. Though keep in mind, there'll be a growing-in stage when your garden isn't shielded from neighbors.

Trees can also be strategically placed to create privacy in combination with fences. Pleached trees are one of the best small garden trees to create privacy, and you can plan out rigidly how much they'll screen your outdoor space. 

9. Create a border with potted plants

The Landform Balcony Garden designed by Nicola Hale

(Image credit: RHS/Sarah Cuttle)

It's not just hedging or planting trees that can separate next door's space from your own. Why not consider a tree or floral border with large potted plants that inject color and peacefulness into the great outdoors? 

We know, when you are short on space in urban gardens, the idea of bringing plants (and lots of them) into your outdoors might at first seem unrealistic. But, we've done some research on the best trees to grow in pots so you can add some greenery to your courtyard without eating into what outdoor space you do have.

What is the cheapest fence option out there?

'Traditional style fencing like Featherboard or Palisade fencing will tend to be the cheapest option for fencing as manufacturers do not need to assemble the products, therefore reducing labor costs,' says Leigh Barnes from Jacksons Fencing. 

'You will need to consider the labor costs increasing on the installation side when choosing this option. We never recommend buying cheap fencing, as you will often have to replace it every three to five years which paired with installation costs can add up to even more than investing in a good quality fence that has a 25-year guarantee. We also need to think of the cost to the planet. Cheap fencing will end up in landfill far more frequently than fencing with a long life guarantee.'

While garden expert, Julia Wylie recommends planting a hedge to keep the costs down, instead of hard boundary. 'Opt for softer, greener boundaries,' Julie tells us. 'Or chain link fences, because they provide holes for amphibians and other small wildlife to travel freely.'

Freelance writer

Becks is a freelance lifestyle writer who works across a number of Future's titles. This includes Real Homes, Top Ten Reviews, Tom's Guide, TechRadar and more. She started her career in print journalism at a local newspaper more than 8 years ago and has since then worked across digital and social media for food, fashion and fitness titles, along with home interior magazines. Her own interior style? She's big on creating mindful spaces in every corner of her home. If it doesn't spark joy or happiness, it has no place here. When she’s not writing, she’s reading and when she’s not reading, she’s writing.