Put On the Finishing Touches With Garden Walls and Railings

Whether you want a decorative railing to accent on your design, or a wall to retain against a nearby hill - or nosy neighbor - beautiful options abound in a variety of materials, shapes and colors.

Excerpted from Garden Design
  • Brick Walls Store Heat From Sun During Day


    Acting like a storage heater, brick walls absorb the sun's heat during the day and release it at night to create a mild microclimate. While walls make a garden feel protected, permeable screens are actually better at filtering the breeze. Brick is more affordable than stone and just as durable.

  • Aged and Weathered Stone Wall Adds Value to Home

    Weathered Stone

    Structures made from aged and weathered natural stone are particularly well-suited to the gardens of historic homes, especially when they match the house walls. Low-cost as a raw material, stone that has to be worked or shaped for a wall is more expensive. Reconstituted or composite stone made from concrete is a more affordable option.

  • Rough Hewn Stone Walls are Works of Art

    Mortared Stone

    Rough-hewn stone forms a structure that is as much a work of art as it is a wall. \"Gluing\" it together with mortar makes it easier to build than a dry stone wall, where each stone has to fit neatly within a specific space. Top mortared walls with coping stones and mortar between the joints to prevent water and frost damage.

  • Dry Stacked Stone Wall Takes Time, Money and Skill

    Dry Stone Wall

    The materials, skill and time required to build a dry stone wall make it an expensive, though beautiful, option; the meticulous placement of the stones means you don't need mortar.

  • Metal Gabions Create Inexpensive Dry Stone Wall


    Rocks, cobbles, bricks or tiles piled into metal gabions, which are then wired together, create an instant, fairly inexpensive \"dry stone\" wall. The weight and strength of the filled cages makes them ideal for retaining, as well as decorative, walls. Gabions come in various sizes, and you can customize the colors with what you put inside.

  • Flint is Popular Building Material for Garden

    Knapped Flint

    Popular as a building material, flint is a tough silica that forms as \"nodules\" in chalk beds. Here, the flints have been \"knapped,\" or split, and set in lime putty to form a decorative facing on a brick or block wall. This design choice is quite durable but it can also get expensive, especially if you have to hire an expert.

  • Mosaic Wall Adds Color and Texture to Garden Wall

    Mosaic Wall

    A mixture of terra-cotta and glazed tiles, cobbles, blocks and bricks, this wall is both colorful and tactile. Materials are set into a layer of rendering (a mix of cement and sand) covering a brick or block wall. For a neat finish, smooth out the grouting in between each piece. Mosaic walls can be made from leftover pieces from your other projects, which helps to keep costs down.

  • Open Concrete Block Wall Makes Effective Windbreak

    Screen Wall

    Concrete blocks offer the strength of brick without cutting out the light. Prices are similar, too, but walls made from blocks are quicker to build. Use them for low patio walls, or to top an existing wall, adding extra height and privacy. Their open structure makes them effective windbreaks. Concrete blocks can be painted to better suit your design.

  • Mosaics Waterproof Decoration for Garden

    Shell Mosaic

    Mosaics are a weatherproof decoration for the garden. Here, a low retaining wall has been brightened up with a collection of shells, fossils and stones. The pieces are set into a thin skim of still-damp render (cement and sand). Once dried, a coat of water-based varnish helps protect the mosaic. Although this is a low-cost design option, it is also low-durability; use it only for decor and finishing.

  • Shuttered Concrete Dyed to Match Color Design

    Shuttered Concrete

    For a textured finish, concrete is poured into molds made from timber shuttering. Walls taller than knee height need foundations and steel reinforcement rods for strength. Shuttered concrete is affordable, durable and customizable in a number of colors.

  • Rendered Walls Used to Smooth Rough Block Walls

    Rendered Walls

    Applying a skim of render (a mix of cement and sand) is a relatively quick—and inexpensive—way to tidy up rough block walls or crumbling brick. Once dry, you have a smooth blank canvas for applying exterior masonry paints. These come in a range of colors, from subtle to shocking—like this pink.

  • Glass Panel Provides Shelter Without Blocking View

    Glass Panels

    Surrounding a patio, balcony or raised deck with glass panels provides a degree of shelter without blocking the view. To increase safety and strength use toughened glass fixed to sturdy posts, but know that even this option is not very durable. Treat the glass with a silicon-based rain-repellent coating to make it easier to clean and to prevent smears.

  • Hide Ugly View with Aluminum Panels

    Aluminum Panels

    Hide an ugly fence or view and provide an unfussy backdrop for planting with powder-coated aluminum panels. The coating is fade- and flake-resistant. Aluminum panels are double-duty, serving as a nighttime screen onto which you can project images or do shadow plays with your kids. Although aluminum panels aren't terribly expensive, marine ply offers and even more affordable option.

  • Using Random Materials to Build Wall Takes Skill

    Wooden Block Wall

    Building a wall using random materials is a skilful job; like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle, each piece must fit neatly with its neighbor. Here, cedarwood offcuts and squares of rusted steel have been glued and screwed together and mounted on a sheet of marine ply, which, in turn, is fixed to a solid wall. Wooden block walls range from affordable to somewhat expensive, and purely decorative to highly durable, depending on their materials, construction and other variables.

  • Use Pine Pallets to Make Wildlife Wall

    Wooden Pallets

    Use pallets to make a \"wildlife wall,\" wiring them together and packing the gaps with materials in which birds, insects and other wildlife can make their homes - moss, wool, grass, rotting wood, hollow canes and more. Usually made from pine, an affordable wood, better quality pallets are available from specialist suppliers.

  • Corrugated Iron Maintenance Free Fencing Option

    Corrugated Metal

    An affordable, durable, maintenance-free fencing option, corrugated metal has one major drawback—sharp edges. To cover these, use protective edging strips, and fix panels to sturdy posts to hold them steady in gusting winds. Galvanized metal, shown here, has a matte finish, while metal paints can add a splash of color.

  • Cast Iron Railing Makes Attractive Garden Divider

    Cast-iron Railings

    Cast-iron railings make an attractive divider in a garden. After a few years, however, they will need repainting. While \"no-paint,\" plastic-coated metal seems a good idea, the coating eventually becomes brittle and chips off, allowing rust to get a hold.

  • Blacksmiths Specialize in Custom Decorative Metal

    Custom Ironwork

    Many blacksmiths specialize in decorative metal work—this whimsical fence made from steel horseshoes is a custom commission. The shoes, which are mounted on horizontal metal bars, are painted to protect against rust and make an eye-catching feature, as well as a functional boundary. Custom work can be expensive but, from a trusted professional, should last long enough to get your money's worth.

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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