Walls in the garden
A wall in the garden is both nice and practical and can have several purposes. Do you want to border toward your neighbors, a road or common or do you want to build one inside your plot to create different garden spaces?
Follow our guide to choosing the right wall in your garden, both on slopes and on level ground.
Build a wall in the garden
When you choose to build walls, adapt them to that environment and to your house facade. Is your plot more rural or urban? Do you have an older house in a classic style or a modern villa? They should harmonize so that they're part of a whole. Then you get a harmonious plot that's pleasing to the eye.
There are countless variants of walls and materials to build them from, both in terms of color and size of stone. Is it a retaining wall in natural stone or manufactured stone that you're looking for or an entire stone wall in the garden?
Two types of walls
Retaining walls in the garden
You can build a retaining wall for several different reasons. They're especially good if you need to build a wall on a slope or a wall on a hill.
With retaining walls, you can even out level differences and terrace your sloping plot so that you can make better use of the areas for cultivation, play and fun.
Retaining walls are single-sided. When they're finished, you only see the front. At the back there is filling which lifts the ground surface above. With the help of them, you level out your previously sloping plot. You gain space that you otherwise wouldn't have been able to use due to the slope.
You can also build raised flower beds using retaining walls. It's a great solution if you have family members who want to enjoy gardening but who use aids such as a cane, walker or wheelchair to get around. The flower bed ends up at a height that makes it more accessible and enjoyable for them.
With a free-standing wall, you can delimit your plot towards others or towards the road or common. You can also create a sheltered patio or divide your garden into different rooms. There are many possibilities. Freestanding walls are both practical and beautiful when they're adapted to your particular plot, its conditions and the feeling you want to convey.
The type of free-standing wall that's best suited to build is affected, among other things, by the material you choose and the height and depth of your imaginary wall. Do you want to build with natural stone, manufactured stone or concrete? Is it a low or high wall that you want to construct? For a low one, it works with double-sided brick. In order for a high free-standing one to become stable, reinforcement is required, which affects your choice of material. Low freestanding ones can be built with all kinds of double-sided bricks, but for high freestanding, masonry blocks with channels that can be reinforced are required.
Alternatives to building a wall
If you already have a wall but it's seen better days, you have the opportunity to improve it and give it a new look. Other options are fences in different materials.
If you have an old wall that you want to cover the surface of, there are so-called cladding stones to use. Then you can get a completely new look in, for example, granite or slate. You attach the stone with special adhesive. It's real stone with a cement backing and the whole thing is only a few centimeters thick so it does not build much depthwise.
If you already have a stable basic construction, it may be possible to plaster the existing wall. It's possible to plaster on most surfaces, but the most common is to plaster on concrete, brick or other stone. It's done in several steps, such as thin priming before the plaster itself is applied. Then you finish by giving the surface structure. Plastering is a pretty demanding do-it-yourself job, so if you are not that handy, it may be an idea to rent out this job.
Concrete has recently become a popular material in more minimalist gardens and urban environments. The gray surface creates a nice contrast to the vegetation. To build a concrete wall, you need to prepare the ground, build a mold, reinforce and then cast. You can get a beautiful surface on the concrete by thinking through the mold construction and using vertical or horisontal boards. The texture of the boards gives an imprint in the concrete and is very effective in a discreet way.
An alternative wall that requires some filling material but not so much accuracy is to fill gabions. Gabions are wire baskets in different sizes that you fill with stone. Gabions can be used both to build free-standing walls and retaining walls. You get the feeling of the natural of the stone but avoid the careful detail work that it entails to build a solid wall from the ground up.
When a retaining wall, concrete wall, gabion or stone wall feels too permanent, too big a commitment to build or too heavy, there are several other options to use when you want to screen off a part of your garden.
A classic in our gardens is the wooden fence. Here the variations are endless. You can build a classic fence and paint it in falu red with white tips or set up a stylish contemporary one in untreated larch wood. No matter which model and style you choose, it's not as heavy work as building a wall. However, even a fence requires its preparatory work in order for it to be stable and last for many years. Steps such as digging for and casting plinths for the fence posts are included in the preparations. A wooden fence also requires a little extra care when it's completed. Some woods are more maintenance-free, such as larch wood, while others need to be reviewed more regularly, treated and repainted.
If you want a durable and relatively maintenance-free fence you can choose one in metal. There's the faithful servant from Gunnebo with his diagonal net but also more stylish alternatives with vertical or horizontal slats. The metal fences are often covered with plastic for extra protection against weather and wind and you have to take a stand on the environmental aspect with the plastic.
A weather-resistant alternative is a composite fence. There are different composite materials and they often consist of a combination of wood and plastic. The material density is high and it's therefore resistant and durable. Here you have to think about the environmental impact that plastic has before you make a decision to put up a fence in composite.
Green alternatives to walls and fences
In addition to more solid constructions such as walls and fences there's the green alternative, to plant your border. The advantage of a growing wall is that it automatically becomes more alive and undulating than a construction.
Planting a hedge is an excellent alternative to building a wall in the garden. When you choose hedge plants with care and according to your plot's conditions and growing zone, you can get a lush boundary and a beautiful privacy. Decide if you want the hedge to be evergreen, ie have leaves all year round, or if it works just as well when the hedge drops its leaves in the winter. Also choose variety by height and by how fast it grows, considering how fast you want to get your green wall up.
A slightly forgotten delimiter is the ornamental grass. Some types of grass can reach a considerable height and can definitely be placed as an alternative to more traditional hedge plants. Choose upright-growing ornamental grasses such as Reed grass. An hedge of ornamental grass becomes a magnificent green background for other vegetation, but is also well suited to other demarcations that you need to make on your plot. You have to keep in mind that ornamental grass is pruned down to ground level in the spring, but that you have a green grass hedge during the summer and into the autumn and a yellower but still very beautiful during late autumn and winter.
If you already have a fence on your plot but you are not happy with the look, you can hide it with ivy. The well-known Gunnebo fence, for example, borders well, but if you want it to be more secluded and more leafy, you can cover it with ivy. The ivy is slow in the beginning but after a couple of years it starts to cover the fence properly and after that you only need from time to time to help lead the green vines where you want them to spread. Ivy is evergreen so your fence is green all year round.
Building permits and rules for walls and fences
For certain types of boundaries in your garden, you need a building permit.
The basic rule in Sweden is that a building permit is not needed for standard fences and gates, but if you're going to put up a more solid fence or build a wall, regardless of height and type, you need to get it approved by the building committee. Exceptions are if you build a sheltered patio within 3.6 meters of a one- or two-family house. The maximum height for the wall or fence is then 1.8 meters.
Check with the building committee in the municipality where you live if a building permit is needed for your wall or fence.