Seven Ideas for Softening a Garden WallHow to dress up outdoor walls with art, plants, fountains and more
Add a Window
First, you can add a window or two. Incorporating a window into a garden wall allows air and light to filter through, plus it provides a glimpse into or out of the garden. A garden window can simply be an opening in the wall, or it can have a frame and possibly even shutters. Some garden walls even feature windows with wrought iron designs. This practice dates back to the times when complete protection was a concern, but they still wanted a view to the outside world.
Photo Credit: Cevan Forristt Landscape Design in San Jose, CA.
Cover the Wall with Plants
Another way to soften a garden wall is to grow plants on the wall itself. Here you have two options. First, you can grow climbing plants. You can let the plants climb freely up and over the wall, or you can train them onto a trellis. Climbing plants are an excellent option if you want a natural, casual look. Second, you can hang a vertical garden which "are currently all the rage amongst garden enthusiasts," says green industry expert Chris Heiler. Vertical gardens can be grown in special frames or pouches that hold soil for planting. This option is perfect for a more controlled, modern appearance.
In this photo, a series of succulent filled pots have been afixed to a wall.
Photo Credit: Landscaping Network in Calimesa, CA.
Create an Outdoor Art Gallery
Chris Heiler reminds us that, "What can be used to spice up your interior walls can also be used outside." Outdoor artwork can work wonders on an otherwise harsh garden wall. If the wall has a distinct texture, such as stacked stone, opt for artwork that will balance that out.
If the wall is smooth, such as steel-troweled stucco or concrete, opt for artwork that adds texture. One large piece of art is great for creating a dramatic focal point; while, smaller, grouped pieces will provide a more subtle, gallery-like feel. Popular types of garden wall art include metalwork, ceramic pieces, mosaics, salvaged doors or windows and even weatherproof canvas paintings.
In this photo, an artistic banner softens the large courtyard wall on which it hangs.
Photo Credit: D. Garden Collection in Paris, France.
Light it Up
Lighting can transform the look of a garden wall. Whether it's a simple lantern, a hidden fixture that washes light across the wall's surface or a playful collection of globe lights - lighting will instantly soften the look of any outdoor wall. Plan ahead and have electrical lines run to where the wall will be built, so that integrated lighting can be easily added.
Read more about landscape lighting.
In this photo, a poolside concrete wall is lit up with an array of globe lights.
Photo Credit: Anthony Exter Landscape Design in Los Angeles, CA.
Install a Wall Fountain
A wall fountain will provide a beautiful focal point as well as the softening sights and sounds of water. Prefabricated wall fountains can be purchased or you can have a custom one designed to be an integral part of the wall. No matter the style of your garden, there is a wall fountain for you. Fountain designs range from old-world Mediterranean to simplistic modern.
According to Chris Heiler, "self-circulating wall fountains can be heavy, so they are best permanently attached to solid surfaces like concrete or brick walls."
In this photo, an integrated wall fountain adds interest, color and texture to an otherwise plain landscape wall.
Photo Credit: Huettl Landscape Architecture in Walnut Creek, CA.
An off-the-wall (pun intended!) idea is to paint a garden wall. This is a simple and often overlooked way to have a garden wall serve double duty. Vivid colors can make stunning backdrops for plants. Color enlivens a garden and a can of paint can enhance even the boldest and most beautiful architectural plants.
Take a look at these ideas for Adding Unexpected Color to Garden Walls.
Photo Credit: Scott Calhoun