Summer has arrived and these warm, light evenings provide the opportunity for us to make the most of our outdoor spaces. This gets us thinking about ways to enhance and modernise our gardens. One impactful idea is to use dark timber fencing as the backdrop to planting.

Is Dark Timber Fencing Suitable for Small Gardens?

Within the home, we are advised to use light, bright colours in small spaces, but do the same rules apply outdoors?

A garden fence marks the boundary of your outdoor space and provides privacy, yet it isn’t usually the main feature of a garden. For this reason, it is better to choose a fence colour that blends into the background. Dark timber fencing allows your seasonal plants to take centre stage and the deep tone adds a modern look to your exterior.

If you are still to be convinced, take a look at the Best Balcony/Container Garden winner from this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. Feels Like Home was designed by Rosemary Coldstream and is inspired by her childhood in New Zealand. This green oasis of native New Zealand plants included Dicksonia antarctica (Tree Fern), Callistemon laevis (Bottlebrush) and Pachystegia insignis (The Marlborough Rock Daisy).

The garden design was given a modern twist with dark timber fencing, sliced bolder paving and a sculptural stainless steel fern leaf. Exterior Solutions Ltd supplied the Kebony Tekusucha for that fencing. The soft brush finish of this charred timber adds a subtle texture and tonal variation. The overall effect of lush plants against dark fencing is stunning. This garden design was awarded Gold, along with being the judge’s and People’s Choice winner in the Balcony/Container Garden category.

Dark Timbers for Chelsea Gardens

‘Feels Like Home’ wasn’t Rosemary Coldstream’s first exhibit at Chelsea and neither was it a first for our charred timbers. We were fortunate to visit Chelsea in 2022 to see Bohemian Rhapsody in the Houseplant Studio. Created by The Edible Bus Stop®, the planting in this immersive, sensory garden was inspired by East Asia. Our blackened timbers were specified to perfectly complement the planting in this small Chelsea garden design.

However, if black seems too extreme for your garden design, you might opt for grey fencing. This was the option selected by The Clancy Workshop for their Chelsea exhibition stand. Michael Clancy is a RIBA registered architect and professional sculpturer. His stand at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show showcased his Corten steel cats.

Using a blend of traditional and digital techniques, Michael Clancy uses 2D metal sheets to form 3D sculptures, which can be scaled to fit any exterior space. Some sculptures are painted, whilst others are left untreated. For these, the metal naturally rusts, giving his cats a rich, orange finish. To provide a neutral background that would offset his creations, he opted for our Douglas Fir Shedo Grey charred timbers.

Why is Charred Timber Better Than Painted Fences?

Painting your existing fences with a dark tone is the obvious way to create a modern statement in your garden. However, if your fence panels need replacing or you are installing into a new build, charred timber has several advantages.

Firstly, with charred timbers, like Douglas Fir, the distinctive grain is enhanced. This offers greater character and interest than the flat finish of a painted fence.

Secondly, paint is a surface application, which will flake and peel over time. This means regular recoating to retain the dark timber fencing aesthetic and to protect the wood from the elements. Equally, whilst wood stains are absorbed and don’t peel, they do fade.

In contrast, charring is a traditional timber preservation technique. It draws out resins to naturally enhance the resilience of the timber. It is permanent and therefore, your fencing stays protected and in your chosen tone with minimal maintenance.

So, you will pay more for a charred timber fence, but it offers a unique finish and long-term value.

Charred Timber Suppliers UK

Exterior Solutions Ltd is a specialist charred timber supplier. Our Shou Sugi Ban® range is renowned as a premium product for hard landscaping, exterior cladding and impactful interior design features. Based in Buckinghamshire, our handcrafted timbers are specified for projects across the UK and abroad.

Download our Shou Sugi Ban® timber cladding catalogue from our website and call us on 01494 711800 for samples and a quote.