Fantastic Non-Traditional Fences

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Fantastic Non-Traditional Fences

Fences can serve any number of purposes in the garden.

In the most obvious situations, they are put in place to define property lines or keep pets contained or deter wildlife from entering our gardens. But, even in settings where none of these strictly functional uses are required, stylized fencing can add growing space, interest and even some function in the garden.

If you’re a small space gardener, adding fences and panels can provide a surface on which to grow more greenery. And, they also work wonderfully for growing climbing edibles like peas, beans, berries, tomatoes and squashes. Crop rotation planting is a great way to go or just add in perennial fruits to keep maintenance even easier. Design your fences with raised boxed beds below them for a finished veggie garden look.


Because most twining vines cannot adhere to flat wooden materials used in many perimeter fences, consider building with heavy gauge wire materials instead. Rectangular gridded sheets of wire are available from many construction and farm supply retailers. Or, if you’re looking for artistic pieces you can easily relocate around the garden, pick up a lighter gauge material and pre-made posts to weave together on your own. These not only provide a functional growing surface, but they also look much more charming than chain link or cyclone fencing.


Another way to integrate a non-traditional fence is to incorporate espalier trees and shrubs into the garden. Espalier refers to a method of pruning that trains plants to grow on a single flat plane. Historically, this growing method was employed within castle walls, allowing food to be grown in very small spaces to feed the community – even if they were locked in while under siege. While its unlikely that you’ll need to worry about coming under attack, espalier pruned plants – whether fruiting or simply decorative -- can provide interest that defines a property line or enhances a bare wall or existing ugly fence – even in narrow corridors. Plus, if you choose to grow a fruiting plant in this form, you’ll have the added bonus of seasonal fruit each season.

Looking for ways to incorporate a composting system into your garden? Believe it or not, decomposing plant material can make for a beautiful, passive composting system. Generally, these fences are built with traditional four-inch wide posts set about six feet apart. Hogwire – a medium-weight wire roll available from most hardware supply stores – is affixed to each side of the post, creating a gap in between. This gap is then filled with leaves, twigs, lawn clippings and other non-food waste. And, it can be layered as artistically as you can imagine. As your garden detritus slowly decomposes over time, you’ll be rewarded with homegrown organic compost material to add back to the garden. Plus, as you take out finished compost, you’ll be able to add in more material as the years go by.