Saturday, April 18, 2020

10+ Ways to Dress up the Side of a Garage (or Wall)

Of all the crazy things, a garage can be a bit of a design dilemma for gardeners. Whether it's stuck out at the front of your house or recessed on one side, the wall of the garage often stares the gardener in the face. How can you make that big blank surface work with the lush green space of your imaginings? 

I've gathered together some of the creative solutions people have found to deal with the problem. With most home stores and nurseries closed, executing these ideas may have to wait, but having a plan is a huge step forward. 

If you don't have a garage, many of these ideas might be useful to dress up any kind of wall or fence. 

Idea #1 Simply cover the face of your garage with a climbing vine. 

An empty wall contributes nothing to the relaxing atmosphere of a garden. In this shady backyard, the homeowner has opted for a Climbing Hydrangea. A low boxwood hedge outlines the formal boundaries of the flowerbed below it.

Some information on the vine used:
Climbing Hydrangea, Hydrangea Petiolaris is a deciduous, self-clinging vine that has bright green foliage and large, white, lace-cap flowers. It is slow-growing until established and then becomes quite vigorous. Climbing Hydrangeas like a regular source of water especially in hot weather. Prune right after it flowers. Full sun to full shade. Height: 50 ft., Spread: 80 ft. USDA zones 4-9.

If your garage has a full sun exposure, clematis, sweet peas or even a climbing rose might be possible (unlike the climbing hydrangea in my first example, these climbers will require the underlying support of some trellising).

Idea # 2 Frame and then paint panels of wooden lattice to create a trellis for climbing vines.

Idea #3 Create a focal point with a decorative panel. 

In this formal garden, the trelliswork and bench turn a red brick wall into something special. If you don't have a carpenter in the family, you could purchase and hang a decorative, laser-cut panel on the wall. Here are just two of the many options available:

On the left is the Matrix Woodland Plastic Decorative Screen (Bundle of three $249 US from the Home Depot. Note: not sponsored link. Other home improvement stores sell these panels as well) and on the right is Matrix Jungle Charcoal Recycled Plastic Decorative Fence Panel ($99 US also from the Home Depot). To get a similar look to my inspiration photo, I'd spray paint them cream (using a paint specially formulated to adhere to plastic).

If you have a larger budget, there are really nice panels with a rusted metal finish.

Idea # 4 Make a DIY trellis for a climbing vine. 

If you feel confident enough to make a few forty-five-degree cuts, a wooden trellis might be a great weekend project. Strings or wires run vertically from a row of nails at the top and bottom of each trellis as additional support for the fine tendrils of this clematis.

Idea # 5 Create a garden that runs the length of the garage.

This garden sweeps out in a curve from the straight line of the garage and incorporates a range of shade-loving plants. The brown ceramic pot sitting on top of a concrete pedestal gives the eye a resting place. You can identify some of the plants and see more of this shade garden here

Idea # 6 Use potted annuals for summer-long color.

Hardscaping can make an area wonderfully low-maintenance, but it can also look a little lifeless. In the previous set of photos, the narrow corridor that runs between the house and garage leads to the garden beyond. Pots of annuals bring color to all that neutral stone.

Idea # 7 Create an entrance.

When the garage and garden sit side-by-side, it's nice to create an entrance that distinguishes the two areas. Here, a wooden arbour marks the transition from driveway to the green space.

In this example, a stone gate separates the garden from the driveway and garage.

Idea # 8 Install a wall fountain.

The vines have covered the wall fountain in my inspiration photo above, so I have included a second example below. Trickling water is soothing and can mask street sounds.

Technically this is a shed, but it nicely illustrates my next idea.

Idea# 9 Transform the garage into a "cottage" with an infusion of charm.

In a small townhouse garden like this, the back of the garage seems inescapable. The roses, green ivy, lantern and the pretty wreath all combine to make you feel that there is something inviting on both sides of the door. 


Idea # 10 Use repetition to make the most of every inch. 

Often the space you have to work with is quite narrow. That's why climbing vines are such a popular solution. In the first photo, a honeysuckle vine is repeated for maximum impact. In my second example, hanging baskets carry the color up to eye level.

Idea # 11 Use architectural salvage, corbels, mouldings and decorative objects to personalize a space. 

Idea #12 Use an old frame and a planter box filled with colorful annuals to create a faux window on a blank wall.

I hope you and your family are staying well. COVID19 has directly touched my extended family, but I am glad to report that, after some weeks of serious illness, my brother-in-law has now fully recovered. Thank goodness for that!

Warm weather and better times are coming our way soon. In the meantime, I will continue to post lots of new plants, ideas and gardens that are inspirational.


  1. Replies
    1. Glad you liked the post Jo-Anne. Thank you for the regular comments/encouragement!

  2. Thank you for these lovely photos. Love your blog. Glad to hear that your brother in law is okay now. Scary times!

    1. These are scary times indeed! Thank you for the nice compliment.

  3. Beautiful photos and ideas. I have a fence that I'd love to cover for some privacy and you have given me some good ideas. Thanks.For sure scary times..stay safe.

    1. I am so glad you found a few good ideas to help you with your fence. Stay safe too Betty!!

  4. Another great post, Jennifer. Thanks for all the inspiration. I am SO glad to hear your BIL is recovering! Finally have a week of warmer weather coming to NE so out in the garden I shall be! I may have to try a climbing hydrangea on my cottage's just too shady for clematis. Thank heavens for mail order nurseries!

    1. Yes, it is hard to have nurseries closed! I do hope that we will be in a better position soon. I'd be willing to stand in a line like we do for the grocery store so gardeners can shop for plants while practicing social distancing.

  5. Excellent post. I decided to tackle my garage wall this month and your photos have provided me with wonderful inspiration.

    1. It's lovely to read all the positive comments. I always aspire to give people inspiration to help them with their design probelms.

  6. thanks for the post, nice ideas for an otherwise boring wall.

  7. This was just what I needed to see right now, thanks Jennifer ;-)
    All these wonderful ideas with gorgeous plants .. what gardener doesn't relish setting these into motion ? .. hopefully the weather will stay on track to keep the sun shining and warm up a bit .. I need to get in the garden and WEED !
    Glad to hear your BIL is better .. this is all very scary stuff .. especially after the NS tragedy .. I can't wrap my head around that yet. It is so sad.

    1. Yes, the tragedy in N.S. is heartbreaking, isn't it? So much senseless death! I am glad you enjoyed the post Joy. Weeding is on my to-do list as well. I have garlic mustard everywhere (which is especially annoying considering I worked extra hard last year to eliminate this particular weed).

  8. Love your garden blog Jennifer, always useful advice and stunning photography to inspire! So glad to hear your family member is on the mend, scary times indeed. I have a climbing hydrangea on a fence west side of my house that has done really well, looks glorious in flower. Take care and I look forward to your next blog post.

  9. Great ideas and lovely inspiration!
    Best wishes for a great weekend, take care...


Apologies, comments are disabled at this time.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.