As winter fast approaches, plants die back in the garden leaving garden fencing exposed and in full view. This makes the perfect time to carry out maintenance and consider changes to your design. Often forgotten until it is too late, garden fencing can make a tremendous difference to the appearance of your garden.

Wooden fences are the most common. Easily erected, they blend with any environment. But it is worth considering what else you can do with them. Trend setting landscape designers have been experimenting with new trends.

Instead of putting fence panels vertically – why not consider placing them horizontally? The result is quite stunning. Horizontal lines can make the garden look much longer because they trick your eyes into elongating the available space. Make it even more stunning by painting the fence in broad horizontal stripes. It does not have to be in bright shades, you can achieve an unusual effect by varying the shades. Try a darker shade at the bottom of the fence, and gradually lighten it towards the top. This helps give a feeling of space, which can be very important in a small garden.

Adding a trellis on top of the fence will increase your sense of privacy. Instead of opting for the standard flat trellis, it is worth considering the effect of a wavy trellis as this can look very classy and eye catching.

One of the most unusual trends in fencing has been the introduction of shou-sugi-ban style boards. A Japanese concept which is beginning to spread into the west, shou-sugi-ban involves the art of making charred wood. This creates a slightly mysterious impression due to the use of much darker wood. Depending on the degree of burning involved, the wood can be slightly scorched or almost black. This is definitely not something for the DIY’er – you do need a skilled installer! Apparently, shou-sugi-ban fences are very long lasting with a life span of up to 30 years.

Whatever your style of fencing, make sure that it is secure and firmly fixed in place. Strong winds and floods can wreck havoc on any fence. Add a coat of wood preservative to keep the timber in good condition. Choose your colour with care – simply changing the shade of the preservative can quickly transform the appearance of your fence. Remember that lighter shades will make the garden seem longer, while darker shades will shorten it. If you feel creative, try varying the shades so as to lighten it towards the end of the garden.