7 Viable Alternatives to Fencing for Your Backyard

A fence is the usual structure used to provide security and/or privacy in yards, but it's not your only option. There are several alternatives to fences you can choose.  Some can look amazing and are very environmentally friendly.  We set out fence substitutes in this article (with photos).
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Photos of fence alternatives in the backyard

A fence is the usual structure used to provide security and/or privacy in yards, but it’s not your only option.

There are several alternatives to fences you can choose.  Some can look amazing and are very environmentally friendly.  We set out fence substitutes below.

1. Bamboo

Bamboo plants serving as backyard privacy fence

Pros

  • Not only is bamboo very fast-growing but it’s renewable, making it a great option for any homeowner looking to DIY a border around his or her property. It can be used in two different ways – cut and dried and installed upright as a physical barrier or left to grow wild and contained as a border around the yard and property.
  • Bamboo screens are very inexpensive and easy to install. Since they can be rolled up, they do not have to be a permanent solution to your fencing problem. This makes them ideal if you want to have privacy in your yard but also need to be able to open up the space.
  • As a living border, bamboo grows so incredibly fast that it will quickly fill in the space at your property. It’s very low-maintenance and will only need to be contained in its location, not trimmed or maintained in any other way.
  • Because bamboo grows so quickly and is widespread, it is easy and inexpensive to find large amounts of both the live plant to plant for a living border and dried bamboo that can be installed in more of a traditional-type fence.
  • Bamboo will blend in to the yard and woods of your property instead of sticking out the way that a metal fence would.

Cons

  • Some homes, such as Victorian homes and more traditional-style homes, will look strange with bamboo around them. The look of bamboo is more suited to cottages and smaller homes.
  • Fast-spreading bamboo can quickly take over the yard or your neighbor’s property if it is not kept in check. This can quickly strain relationships with your neighbors if you are not consistently removing bamboo that threatens their land.

2. Corrugated Metal Panels

Corrugated metal panelWhile this is an option, it’s not that good because it’s ugly unless you do something really creative with it.

Pros

  • This is a great DIY option for the homeowner who wants complete privacy at his or her home but isn’t interested in paying for professional fence installation. It’s a much more cost-effective way to increase the privacy and security of the property.
  • It can be easily made any size and with wood accents, this can be a gorgeous part of your backyard.
  • Corrugated metal will stand up to the elements and won’t rot or become damaged the way that traditional fences will.
  • This fencing alternative can look very modern or vintage, depending on the style you choose, the size you install, and what kind of design choices you make.

Cons

  • It isn’t always easy to find large sheets of corrugated metal to complete your project.
  • Depending on the price of supplies, it can be very difficult to complete this project on a budget.
  • Not all homeowners like that the corrugated metal panels will completely stop all breezes from blowing through. While they are great at keeping animals and people out of the yard and not allowing people to see in, they also cut down on natural wind through the area.
  • Due to the color and texture of the metal, this will not blend in to the environment. Rather, it will stick out and be very obvious that you have a barrier around your property.

3. Brushwood

Brushwood wall fence in backyard

Pros

  • When correctly installed, brushwood makes an attractive barrier on the property.
  • Made of natural materials, they are easy to make or to buy from a lumberyard.
  • Due to the color and texture of the barrier, it will seem to disappear into the woods and become almost invisible. This is ideal for homeowners who want a barrier on their property but do not want it to be obvious.

Cons

  • Because it is made of natural materials such as twigs and sticks, these barriers will be susceptible to water damage and rot.
  • Unfortunately, if they do not get enough sun and a strong breeze, they can easily become moldy and unattractive. For this reason, they are not a great option if you need a barrier through the woods or in a damp area.
  • Not all homeowners enjoy the natural look and, depending on the landscaping and appearance of the home, it may look out of place.

4. Stone wall

Stone wall serving as backyard fence

Pros

  • Because there is no mortar involved, this type of wall is fairly easy to construct and can change and grow as the needs of your family changes.
  • Stonewalls look great on most every property. They won’t impede wind or make it difficult for wild animals to move around from one area to another.
  • Homeowners don’t have to worry about cleaning off these walls because the natural moss and plant growth will only add to the beauty and visual appeal of them. Of course, if a cleaner look is desired, then it’s easy enough to pressure wash the stonewall and remove a lot of the natural growth.

Cons

  • They are not as high as traditional fencing and so are used more to help delineate the property lines than to keep animals and people in or out of the yard.
  • If you do not already have stones and rocks on your property, then they can be very expensive to buy for this project.
  • Due to how heavy they are, rocks can be hard to move and to place. If they slide out of position, they can hurt someone.

5. Hedge

Hedge in backyard providing privacy as an alternative to a fencePros

  • There are a number of different plants that you can use, each with its own set of pros and cons, so you can be sure that your new fence is as functional as it is beautiful.
  • It’s easy to craft some plants, such as willow trees, into beautiful fences by bending them and winding them together. Since they grow so quickly, homeowners can create one-of-a-kind fences in a few short years.
  • Flowering plants can add a lot of interest and beauty to the yard.
  • They will offer a home for local birds and animals to nest, which can bring a lot of interesting animals to your yard.
  • Some hedge plants have thorns or stickers, which work great as a deterrent to anyone trying to get into your yard.
  • While some plants stay small, there are other options that will grow over 20 or 30 feet tall, offering maximum privacy for the home and yard.

Cons

  • These take a while to grow and involve maintenance to ensure that they looks their best. Some choices, such as forsythia, don’t need to be trimmed on a regular basis as the wild look suits the plant. Others, such as juniper or privet, will need to be regularly maintained so that they keep their shape.
  • In dry spells, homeowners will have to water these plants or worry about them dying off and leaving unsightly dead patches in the fence.
  • Insects that damage these plants can cause a lot of damage, which will negatively affect the appearance of the living fence.
  • While beautiful, these hedges will not always do as good of a job as a traditional fence at keeping out animals or unwanted visitors. Children and dogs especially may find it a fun challenge to get through the hedge, making it difficult to keep them playing in the yard.

6. Rope with Ivy

Pros

  • By stretching thick rope where you want to build a border on your property and doubling it back a few times, you can easily create a strong foundation for a climbing vine, such as ivy, to grow.
  • This creates a natural-looking border around your property and, depending on what plant you use, will stay green all winter long.
  • Ivy grows incredibly quickly, making it a great choice for this rope and plant border. It’s easy to train to wind around the rope and to hang down in an attractive manner.
  • Mixing in other flowering vines with the ivy will add a lot of visual interest and beauty to your border. Clematis and wisteria are great choices to add as well.
  • This will still allow airflow so homeowners can enjoy a summer breeze in the backyard without it being broken by a full privacy fence.
  • Ivy and rope are both very inexpensive to buy, making this a great option for the homeowner on a budget.
  • Some homeowners use trellises instead of rope for a beautiful solution that will allow more vines to grow up it easily.

Cons

  • It can be very difficult to control ivy once it gets growing. Because it tends to be invasive in certain areas, homeowners have to be diligent about pulling up stray vines that are too close to the yard or garden.
  • Over time, the rope support will begin to sag under the weight of the plants and may rot. At this point, it is the right decision to install a more permanent structure for the plants to grow on. Some homeowners opt for stretching chains instead of rope as this is a more permanent and secure structure for the vines to grow on.
  • While they provide a visual border and barrier, this is not a great way to keep people from coming into your yard. Even animals such as deer and foxes will be able to easily slip through the ivy.
  • The ivy can hide poisonous plants and ones with thorns, making it easy for children to become injured when they are playing by the barrier.

7. Vertical Garden

Vertical gardens for backyard privacy

A vertical garden, if dense enough, can be a terrific fence substitute.  Check it out:

 









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