Fence colour to make the garden look bigger – do dark fences make a garden look smaller?

Fence & Decking Paint

As much as I wish it were true, we aren’t all lucky enough to have a huge garden. Some of us, especially those who live in more urban areas, have to make do with what space they’ve got.

If you’re one of these unfortunate people, there is no need to feel down about it as there are plenty of tips and tricks that can give the illusion of having more space, and we will cover some of them on this very page, here and today to make your fence colour to make the garden look bigger and when you’ve finished you really should checkout my fence paint tests as well as which fence sprayers that are going to make this project the easiest. There’s full video demos too.
So, get comfy as we show you how to make a ‘big deal’ out of a small outdoor space.

Fence colour to make a garden look bigger

One question I get asked a lot is ‘do dark fences make a garden look smaller?’
The answer to this is ‘definitely not’. In fact, the opposite is actually true. By painting your garden fence a dark colour, you are allowing your garden foliage to stand out against it and this takes the focus away from the actual boundaries of your garden, thus giving a sense of more space.

Painting Fence

Opting for bright, eye catching colours for your fence will obviously draw the eye to them, and with it the actual dimension of your garden. Bright colours give you the impression that they are coming towards you too, which further decreases the size of your outside room in the mind. Then there is the fact that a brightly painted fence will not contrast well with your plants. Why plant incredible colourful flowers when the fence will take away focus from them? In the summer months when the sun is shining, this is particularly so, because the sunshine will make your brightly painted fence shine even brighter.

In my opinion the best fence colours to make a garden look bigger are simple black, dark brown, or dark grey. 

Other ways to make your garden look bigger

In addition to painting your fence dark, here are some other things you might want to try. Most of these can be done quickly and cheaply, and can make a real difference when it comes to the sense of space in your garden.

I really don’t think a darker paint encloses an area. To prove the point take a look at this recently painted area:

Dark fence doesn’t mean a smaller look
  1. Use garden printed panels

    One of the best ways you can improve the garden size is with a garden printed panels. They are a superb idea to increase the depth and length perception of gardens and are best used looking through arbours or pergolas as you get that sense of tunnel vision. Here’s a look at this modern technique:

    Image credit Garden Printed Panels: Use garden printed panels
  2. Avoid cluttering up your garden

    If you have limited space, the last thing you want to do is fill it with all manner of things. You might really want to have those ornamental flower pots you saw at the garden and that traditional bench, and that……etc. but doing so will just make your garden feel cramped and not a nice place to spend time. The same goes for kids toys, old garden debris, and pretty much anything else you leave lying around, so tidy your space, choose your ornaments and plants wisely, and go for a more minimalistic aesthetic to create the feeling of more room.

  3. Stay away from large objects

    Having a giant water feature or similar in a small garden is a no-no. As is oversized garden furniture and any other large objects. There are lots of compact garden furniture sets available these days that will make your garden look so inviting without cluttering up the place.

  4. Go big with your plants

    While having a huge water fountain is not a great idea, having large plants is. This is because many small plants in small pots will again seem like clutter, so it’s best to have less of them, but larger.

  5. Use your vertical space

    You might not have a lot of room for plants on the ground, but you can make the most of your garden by planting things like thin and tall trees, and using hanging baskets and window boxes. You could make some simple trellises and grow climbers up your walls or fence too. Honestly, there are so many ideas on how to design and grow a vertical garden that I think I’ll write a full article about it soon, so be sure to check it out.

  6. Get rid of the lawn

    In a lot of UK gardens, the lawn takes up the majority of the space, so getting rid of it completely, or partially can give you some space to do other things. Putting in a small decking area, or paving over half of the lawn can create separated areas or zones that can be excellent for creating a sense of space. These areas can be separated using things like trellises or large plants and give you the impression you are going from one place to another, and this will give the impression that your garden is larger than it actually is.

  7. Make the most of natural light

    Make the most of natural light by using lightly coloured paving stones or tiles, or even having rocks, and pots that reflect light well. Granite is a good choice for your paved areas, and glass topped garden furniture can help too.
    Dark colours are great for fences for the reasons we stated earlier, but light colours, and cooler shades like sky blue, are perfect for the interior borders of a small garden.

  8. Well placed mirrors

    Following on from the idea making the most of light, is the method using strategically placed mirrors around the garden.
    Having a mirrored area on your garden wall can greatly increase the sense of size, and placing mirrors in darker corners can brighten them up.

    Mirrors give off all sorts of extra size signals – just as important as fence colour
  9. Use large plants to hide your fence or walls

    Your fence or walls are a constant reminder of the real boundaries of your garden, so it’s a good idea to keep them out of sight as much as possible. Using large plants, climbers, and other techniques, you can completely shift attention away from them and towards the things you want to be seen.

  10. Change the layout of your garden

    This ties in with the advice on making different zones. You may want to change the fence too. So here’s a guide on replacing fence posts incase you want to change up a bit. Having an original layout for your garden rather than one open space is a great idea with a small garden. Partially hiding part of your garden behind something so that it has to be ‘explored’ can make people think that the garden is actually much larger. It’s best to keep the design and layout simple though, and avoid long, or intricate curves.

  11. Be smart about garden storage

    You’re not really going to be able to have a large garden shed in a small garden, and having tools and other things lying around is just clutter and will make your garden appear smaller. So, what to do? Well, you have to be smart about things. One thing you can do is consider wheelie bin storage or screens to remove those unsightly bins, they feel awkward and set off a less than perfect ambience. Maybe put up some shelves to keep things on, or have plant containers and raised beds that have storage space under them. With a little bit of ingenuity, you can keep your garden tidy and still have all your tools close at hand.

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So, you see. Having a small garden isn’t the end of the world, and there are indeed a lot of things you can do to make it seem larger. By using a combination of some of the methods and tricks featured here today, you can transform your cramped space into something original and amazing.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message: info@gardentoolbox.co.uk

View all posts by Terry Smith

One response to “Fence colour to make the garden look bigger – do dark fences make a garden look smaller?”

  1. Hi Terry

    Your article has given me some hope with our small back garden. Our fencing was painted light green and yellow by the previous owner. I may now brave it and go for a dark grey.

    Thank you again,


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