How to Hide a Chain Link Fence

Sometimes useful things are ugly.  I don't like ugly things.  The general rule for me is that things should be USEFUL or BEAUTIFUL and 90% should be BOTH.  In fact, I have gathered my DIY postings into those categories because that is truly how I think of things when I make or buy them.  Is it gorgeous?  Is it super useful?  Is it useful AND beautiful?  If the answer is yes, then it can stay.  If it is ugly, it goes (unless it is something super useful like a toothbrush or a bottle of mouthwash).  If it is useless it goes (unless it is beautiful like silly paper garlands).  If it isn't a strong collaboration of the two is goes.  For example, the skewer sticks are ugly in their packaging, but beautiful stored in a glass pitcher.  So, the pitcher and skewers stay, the packaging goes.   You get it, right??

So what happens when you need something that is very useful, but it is just hideous in your eyes?  

Enter a chain link fence.  Stage right.

In some cases, you can just remove the fence, and have a beautified space, but sometimes those fences are necessary.  Ours surrounds the pool and if I could put up barbed wire 6 foot fences around it to keep kiddies away, I just might.  For now, the chain link fence and a series of latches and locks keeps it safe, but oh how it still scares me...(the pool...not the fence...)...and don't even start telling me to get rid of the pool - it is the most wonderful thing all summer long and we spend half our days out there :)

Anyway, you have your ugly fence, and you need to keep it and appreciate its functionality, but hate the look.  
Here are a few tips for making it look a little less ugly.  


Buy a green fence, or paint it green.  If your fence is anywhere near lawn or plants, it is going to disappear a bit if it is green, right?  Right.  If your fence is in the middle of a bunch of pavement, then you have bigger problems than an ugly fence, and silver or grey will blend right in.


Chain Link fences are perfect for plants because a) they are absolutely perfect for climbing plants and b) they can help deliver nitrogen to your plants.  Climbing plants climb by twirling around supports or gripping onto them, and the size and design of a chain link fence is perfect for both.  I planted a clematis and have a climbing rose on my fence, but need many many many more!  The clematis is especially perfect because it weaves its way in and out of the links, blooms beautifully and then leaves these wonderful little poofy seed pods.

So what about the nitrogen?
Lightning fixes the nitrogen in the air making it available to plants as nitrogen oxides.  When your plants are hanging on and planted under a metal chain link fence, the chances of attracting lightning are quite high and while you don't want to be around if lightning is anywhere near your metal fence, the plants will love the extra nitrogen. They gobble it up and put on new growth the next day.  Gardeners are known to string copper wire around their tomato plants and cabbage patches to harness this benefit for their plants.  At the moment though, if we could get just a drop of rain, I believe the plants would be happy.  It is so blisteringly hot and humid, but without a hint of rain OR lightning.  Poor plants...

So what is the third thing you can do to hide your fence? 
well ummm...


Your fence is already green, so the next step is adding more beautiful green plants to help break up the prison look of mile after mile of metal links.  One of my favorites for a chain link fence is a hibiscus plant.  They are tough, they come cheap on clearance at any nursery or big box store, and they are easy to propagate.  ...AND they have GORGEOUS blooms.  GORGEOUS!

Of course mine have not bloomed quite yet, so I have nary a photo to show, but even the buds are quite nice...see?

 Hibiscus sends of new shoots every spring in a cluster straight up from the ground.  The stems are strong, yet flexible, so they are perfect for a chain link fence because they weave themselves on either side of the fence, camouflaging both sides from view.  They grow about 3-5 foot tall generally and are the perfect base plant for your fence.  To propagate the plants, simply chop off a cutting and root it or layer your plant. (Just click those green links for the how to articles!) I layer a stem or two each year to create a bank of them along one side of my fence.

After you have a climber and some base plants (like clematis and hibiscus), a few large, tall anchor plants give variety to your plantings.  My favorite is this old fashioned mallow.  I have no idea what variety it is, but it is a large, beautiful plant that is hardy as all get out.  It is a relative of the hibiscus, so the blooms are similar, but are only about 3"-5" wide as opposed to the huge dinner plate sized hibiscus.

As I mentioned, my fence is around a pool, so my plants are a bit more tropical by design.  Along with white clematis, hibiscus and mallow,  I also use large green and varigated grasses, red flowering cannas, various evergreen bushes and red climbing roses. If your fence serves a different purpose you could certainly substitute other plants such as these:

Climbers: rose, clematis, sweet peas, peas, ivy, cup and saucer vine, trumpet vine (be careful...this one is beautiful, but invasive)

Foundation: Hydrangea, various conifer shrubs in rounded habits, daylilies, peonies, Montauk daisies, holly

Tall Accents: annual sunflowers, hollyhock, cannas, grasses, various conifers with vertical habits...the list could go on and on and on...

Do you have any good tips for covering up an eyesore??


Sounds like you have a gorgeous chain-link fence! I have an ugly wooden fence that I have been trying to hide for sometime, I've used mainly ivy's, rows of Italian Cypress and even a huge pussy-willow. (amongst other things) The ivy I find is the most rewarding cover as its fast and an that! Don't you love when things are beautiful and practical, one of my favorite simple quests in life!!
Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your encouraging comments on my photo post, it means a lot!
Cheers Julia =)
Denise said…
The Hub and I found a house we really liked last week but one of the things we *didn't* like is that there's a chain link in the back yard. It's been there so long that a huge oak about 40 inches in diameter had grown right through it! So that fence ain't goin' anywhere!

The first thing I said to The Hub when I saw it is, "Day one we would paint that fence black so we wouldn't see it." The fence was heavily shadowed (and dark) by the shade of the tree.

I love that you're growing stuff on yours and that you painted it green. I am also super paranoid about pools and little ones. I might even plant thorny plants on that green fence! Almost as good as barbed wire. :-)
I bet that area is gorgeous when everything is in full bloom. Great tips on how to hide a nasty fence.
Becky Jane said…
I live in a very rural area and we heat our home with propane tank sits right in my Sweet Memories Flower Garden. We built a little lattice pergola in front of it with vines covering it up! Hides the propane tank very well!
Holly said…
We had chain link at out old home and I planted clematis to cover it. But at the gate areas I had to get a little creative so we could get in and out. I put arches over both gates and trained my clemmies up and over. Then I took pieces of scrap stained glass, wrapped and soldered them, attached a jump ring, and then attached them to hang in the "holes" of the chain link. Sparkly! I also hung chandelier crystals from the top of one of the gates. Chain link may be ugly, but wow it makes a great canvas for creativity!
salman javed said…
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Kristen Dockery said…
My grandma has been wanting to get a fence around her yard for a while now, but wasn't sure what to do to get started. I think that a chain link fence would be what was best for her so I will probably make a few calls today and see what I can figure out for her. I think that she would really like yours so I will probably show her yours. I am really glad that I came across this post and the information in it.