Unless you enjoy deer snacking in your garden or do not mind setting out your tomatoes in a cat litter box, a garden fence is a must. The idea of enclosing your growing space in an ugly chain-link web or a stiffing board fence can be off putting, but it need not be. In fact, with a bit of creativity, what might otherwise be an eyesore could become an impromptu art gallery or extra garden space.
Perhaps the quickest and most effective way to cover a wire or chain-link fence is with greenery. Plant fast-growing vines at the base, and train them up and over the mesh as they grow. You may choose a practical vine, such as beans or garden peas, cucumbers or even squash or gourds so the space becomes a bountiful extension of the garden growing area, or go for morning glories, scarlet runner beans, clematis or honeysuckle for fragrant flowers. An evergreen, perennial ivy will keep the fence covered year-round.
Home for Espaliers
If you have a solid fence facing south, consider yourself lucky. That is the ideal spot to train an espaliered fruit tree, such as peaches, figs or even citrus, in more southerly climates. Use closed eye hooks and galvanised or stainless steel wire to train the limbs up the fence as they grow. This is also another way to grow vines if you do not have a wire fence.
If you prefer an instant solution and are not especially artistic, try making a shadow painting on your solid fence. Wait for the sun to cast leaf shadows on the fence from nearby trees and shrubs, or prop leafy branches between the fence and sun if there are no handy trees nearby. Use a marker to outline the shadows on the fence, and fill in the shapes with green paint of various shades to give yourself pretty all-day leafy shadows instead of a bare fence. Plant shrubs in front for added depth.
Art is where you find it, and that need not be indoors. Take advantage of all that expanse of bare wall to show off your favourite objects d'art from stone and concrete base reliefs, stained glass and mirrors to vintage lamps, wrought iron gates and other architectural pieces. Mixed with hanging flower pots filled with a profusion of colourful blooms, they will transform ugly into inspiring. Change pieces and flowers often for continued interest all year.
Artistic individuals may enjoy painting their fences to create "windows" and "doors" leading out of the garden or make the space seem more expansive than it actually is. The French refer to this as trompe l'oiel or "fool the eye." Build an archway, grow huge flowers overnight or create a view into another garden all with the aid of a few brushes and cans of paint. Many examples abound on the Internet. The projects at Decorate Your Fence -- by several mural artists -- may just inspire you to do it yourself.