Chain Link Cover-up?

Last year, Brandon and I talked about doing something to screen our backyard from the alley. We have chain-link fencing, which of course offers no privacy but we’re not going to replace it anytime soon. The stretch of fencing we’re most concerned with is the section by the parking space in this sketch:

Long-Term Backyard Plan

I went to IKEA not long ago to check out their summer line and I liked their wind/sunshields, but I couldn’t think of a use for them. Today I suddenly realized that they may work well to cover the fencing.

DYNING wind/sunshield

The other idea we had was to use Put-in-Cups to create a pattern. They could be very cheesy (I know), but I think they could also be very cool. Check them out here:


Nice, right? We had also considered fence slats as another option. When I talked about wanting to do something to the fence last year, a lot of people suggested woven willow, reed, or bamboo panels. I’m sure that would look good, but I like the idea of doing something more graphic. Everyone hates on chain-link but I really don’t mind it. I think it could be an opportunity to do something kind of fun…

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  • sarajessica
    April 8, 2009 at 1:40 am

    I like the wind/sunshields and I need something like that to put on my balcony. I have never seen anything like the put-in-cups, they’re so cool! I guess it’s an american thing. ;) We don’t have that many chain link-fences either when come to think about it…hm…

  • Kristin Friesen
    April 8, 2009 at 1:55 am

    I gotta be honest with you here, I’m not really feeling either of those. I do however agree with the other suggestion you previously received to do a woven/reed type thing. I like bamboo and natural looks for the yard… gives it an oasis type of feel :)

    That’s just my two cents!

  • Lydia
    April 8, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Something slightly random but I love the sketch drawing that you made, may I ask what tools you used?


    My vote is for the Put in Caps if you don’t want to go towards the natural woven/reed , bamboo etc type.. with the appropriate design of course!

  • Making it Lovely
    April 8, 2009 at 2:13 am

    I did the sketch on paper first. Then I scanned it and cleaned it up and colored it in Illustrator.

  • kribss
    April 8, 2009 at 6:19 am

    totally love the ikea idea and that they have different colors to chose from or plain white. looks like fun!

    • Mar
      April 7, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      I like the designs you have.

  • Lorri
    April 8, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Given how creative you are, I’m sure you could come up with an awesome cup design. It would definitely be distinct and different! Go for it… maybe after the baby comes. =)

  • Lynnie
    April 8, 2009 at 7:13 am

    If you’re looking to do something graphic, I think why not go all out and create something using the Put In Cups! And don’t you think that the colours they’ve used for the design in that pic are a sign..?


  • catherine
    April 8, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Those sunshields are awesome! And they are so inexpensive I think you could get one in each color and change it up with the seasons!

  • dawn
    April 8, 2009 at 7:37 am

    i prefer the bamboo reeds or something natural so that the landscape can shine through. we had the same problem with the chain link fence at our old house. i’m sure you want instant privacy for the summer, but have you considered a fast growing vine to cover the chain link fence?

  • Jessica
    April 8, 2009 at 7:50 am

    OMG those Ikea windscreens are amazing!

    I was a little skeptical when I read the words put-in-cups, but I will admit that looks pretty awesome. I wonder how well they stay in place.

  • justine
    April 8, 2009 at 7:55 am

    The put in cups remind me of a Zoo. I would do something more natural.

  • Stepford Mommy
    April 8, 2009 at 8:26 am

    I have four foot high black chainlink encircling my whole yard. It’s not my favorite but my plan is to plant ivy which I hope will eventually cover it. . . if I live that long! LOL

  • Amanda
    April 8, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Another idea (that might hold up better than the windscreen) would be to take fence boards, rip them in half on a tablesaw and either stain or paint them in two different colors (I think a cream and black would look fabulous). You can then attach those strips to your chain link in either a horizontal or vertical pattern leaving some blank space between the boards to allow wind to move through. We did something similar in our backyard where our new wood fence met up with our neighbors fence.

    Looking forward to seeing what you end up doing!

  • sciencegeek
    April 8, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Plant morning glories or another fast growing vine. Sugar snap peas would be tasty.

  • amyrks
    April 8, 2009 at 10:23 am

    The put in cups in that graphic pattern would look pretty cool. I don’t think I could handle the crazy stripes of the windshields, I would feel like I was at the circus. The reed or bamboo would also be pretty and very natural/ organic, more calming

  • puck
    April 8, 2009 at 10:36 am

    oh… so pretty! i like the IKEA stuff at the top. Too cute.

    What font did you use for the writing? Pretty!

  • Anna @ D16
    April 8, 2009 at 11:39 am

    I don’t know… the use of polypropylene just seems to be at odds with what makes a garden beautiful. I like the graphic quality of the fence you posted the picture of, but the reality of the material used makes me feel sad.

  • Lise
    April 8, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    How about a DYI version of the Fence Lace by DeMakersVan
    (demakersvan.com , flash website so no direct link, but the project is called Lace Fence.)


    Wouldn’t provide much privacy, but so pretty!

  • Jasmine
    April 8, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    I completely agree with you about doing something graphic. it looks really cool, and it really matches your aesthetic. I love the Put-in-Cups. They look amazing!

  • suzanne
    April 8, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I’m digging the graphic quality of the cups. Nice juxtaposition from the surroundings. Why not try a small patch…see if it works, if not, well…you’ve got something for another project.

    Hmmm…perhaps another wrench in the plan…are they biodegradable?

  • JuliaL
    April 8, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Please don’t do the Put-in-Cups. It doesn’t see very Earth friendly. Not that Ikea would be that much better. But it seems like sticking plastic cups in a chain-link fence is very grade school and wasteful.

    Sorry, that’s just my two cents.

  • Henley
    April 8, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I’d go for landscaping to hide it. Leyland cypress grow fast and are evergreens!

  • holland
    April 8, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I have a lot of six-foot-high metal fencing for which I had Sunbrella privacy panels made by my local awning shop seven years ago. The awning guys inserted grommets for connectors and did the installation. They still look great and wear like iron.

    The great thing about using outdoor fabric is you can cover a large area with a minimum of panels since the fabric is cut to fence height, and you can choose from an endless array of colors and patterns. I went with Sunbrella’s solid Persian Green (teal) which plays well with my industrial grey house.

    It wasn’t cheap but given the look and longevity, one of my better investments.

  • Kristi
    April 8, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I think the put in cups look cool, but i wouldn’t choose that for your yard. I love the ikea sunshields! They look cute, natural, and still allow you to add a pop of color!

  • Katie
    April 8, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    I saw someone do something really clever with a chain link fence once–they took down the chain link/painted the silver posts white and put up a picket fence. The hardest part of a fence are the posts and those were already in place! Just a thought…

  • Corie
    April 8, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I also like the idea of vines. I want to use some sort of vines (ivy, maybe?) on the side of my house, I think it would look so awesome!

    I gotta say outloud though, I’m not down with the plastic. I think you *could* certainly do something cool with plastic, but eh, it’s just not that classy, is it? Just my opinion. Eeek!

  • Amy
    April 8, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I like the sunshades from Ikea, how fun! I wouldn’t do any sort of fence weave though. Our neighbors put them in a few years ago so that they could get a pool and they look like total garbage now. The tops and bottoms keep popping out and after they fixed them the first few times, they ended up moving and the new owners could care less. Looks a little Beverly Hillbillies.

  • elizabeth
    April 8, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    We planted native vines to cover our chain link fencing, and in less than 2 years, the majority of our front fence is completely covered. There are even vines starting to grow into the gate! We have a lot of galvanized metal around our house (roof, etc.), so we are going to sandwich two pieces of corrugated sheet metal on either side of our gates to hide the chain link. Let me know if you’d like me to email you some photos of the vines…

  • Nisa & Lick
    April 8, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter.
    I am so glad I checked your blog tonight. We are installing chain link tomorrow and I cringe at the thought of the eyesore that will be taking over our backyard. Love the Ikea idea! Thanks for your inspiration!

  • Sandra
    April 8, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Playing off of the IKEA option, why not check out outdoor fabric designs and sew up a couple custom panels of your own? You can still have the graphic element you desire, and grommets will make switching panels out to change, wash or remove easy-peasy. One side could be less graphic (in the event you have particular neighbors), and the graphic side facing your yard/house.

  • mrs.lee
    April 8, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    you make me want to own a home and redo it all!!

  • kate
    April 8, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    i love this convo – we have chain link in the very back of our yard and there are some trees that sorta hide it – but these are such fun & creative ideas. can’t wait to see what you do – and thanks for the inspiration!

  • Lara
    April 9, 2009 at 12:19 am

    That’s such a good idea!
    I want one for my balcony to go on the inside since it looks hideous.

  • Fiona
    April 9, 2009 at 6:34 am

    I like the Ikea, or the idea of making your own shield (although you’re not going to have tons of time or energy in the next few months). The put-in cups look cool, but that IS a lot of plastic. I find it kind of fascinating that a whole company is based on the idea of “Hey! I can make a plastic cup that you can push through openings and make patterns with.” (wracks brain for own idea)

  • Amanda
    April 9, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I also needed some privacy between my backyard and the alley. I planted four Foursythia bushes 3 feet apart along the alley. They turn a lovely yellow and bush out quite nicely. Not an immediate fix, but it is more Earth-friendly.

    I think the cups are a neat idea, but like some commenters, I am worried about the crazy amount of plastic.

    Good luck!

  • Heather
    April 9, 2009 at 11:31 am

    The stripes and and “put-in-cups” are both fun, but you do have such a nice backyard and landscaping and furniture ideas that I like the neutral bamboo idea so it won’t overpower all the nice things you have and want to do in the future. Also, having just had a baby last year, for what my opinion is worth…the last thing I (or my husband) would have wanted to do at that time would be to stick plastic pieces in a fence!

  • jbhat
    April 9, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Bamboo, baby, but planted in tubs in the ground first, in front of it. Other than that, I do like that stripey fabric option. Super cute.

  • Kara
    April 9, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Last year I moved into a house with a chain-link fence. The previous owners put in privacy slates in the back portion by the alley. I had always hated those until now. They are faded and weathered and blend in pretty well so that I barely notice the fence. And I love the quality of the filtered light peaking through. I think that a natural material would be more desirable though. Does anyone make them out of something other than plastic?

    The put-in-cups look too bright and shiny to me. They also look like they’d collect a lot of dirt.

  • Michele
    April 9, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Hmmmm. I am not sure about either of them, and would much prefer to have some plants growing up them ~ morning glories, roses, ivy. But I have to say, environmentally, I think the Put-In-Cups is really out. The whole thing is made of plastic……which comes from oil. Won’t break down in our lifetimes…..or for that matter our grandkids = or theirs. And they are really stretching it claiming to be environmentally friendly (what? because it won’t blow away – ok not visual clutter, or chocking of birds?) – just wonder why IKEA has stopped plastic bags. Go with plants, fabric, or something else.

  • Making it Lovely
    April 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I’m leaning towards the fabric panels. I don’t want vines because in my limited gardening experience they tend to look dead and horrible for half of the year, and then they take over and start choking out nearby plants all throughout the summer.

    Puck, and that font is “Wendy”.

  • Becky @ Farmgirl Paints
    April 9, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Not sure about the cups design. I think personally I would get tired of it too quickly and it’s not very relaxing. I don’t know about you but when I’m enjoying my yard I like to unwind. I know you love pattern and design, so what about a plain canvas where you paint a design or have an artist design something for you. Just a thought.

  • Linda
    April 9, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I love the fabric panels. We lived in the area some time back with a similar lot. We used 6′ bamboo fencing. You could add color and interest to them by weaving colored nylon rope or a durable outdoor fabric through parts of like a trim at the top.

  • Stephanie
    April 10, 2009 at 10:00 am

    If you want to go with the most inexpensive route, I’d say use Fence Weave in white. You can buy a roll of it for about $25 at Home Depot and it covers 250 sq ft. Since we don’t have the money for a privacy fence we decided to go with Fence Weave and it really transformed the chain link in our tiny yard and gave us more privacy. http://pufferprogress.blogspot.com/2008/06/backyard-in-april-with-grass-seed.html
    I was hesitant in trying it out at first but in a way it makes it almost look like a lattice fence. It’s time consuming though!

  • Jenny
    April 10, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I suggest planting twining vines, especially hardengbergia (with clusters of purple flowers) or trumpet vine (with the gorgeous year round red/orange/yellow trumpets). At our old house in a not so great neighborhood we wanted to disguise the chain link without spending a lot of money, and investing in a few pots of these great, hardy drought tolerant vines was all it took. Chain link is actually perfect for these vines because it gives them so many little slots to hang twine through, and they are both evergreen. Best, cheapest and most natural and beautiful think we did.

  • Jess
    April 10, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    I think the fabric panels would be pretty, but they will stain and they will fade fast. You commented about not wanting plants that die and look bad for half the year, but the panels will have to be replaced too. Mist in the morning collects dust, things splash up, etc.

    I think you could easily put something togeter with the bamboo and slats. BUT, that also means you’ll still have use of the chain link to hang things off of it. You could create a really colorful canvas this way, one that will last.

    I did something like that in tiny back porch. Made an arbor, but it became something more because I hung pots and chimes and planters and metal artwork. I was careful on the layout to create a geometric-type pattern. And, you can color all of them as you see fit!

    Just a suggestion.

  • holland
    April 10, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    If you have panels made out of outdoor fabric (see prev comment on my Sunbrella ones), they barely fade, or at least take decades to do so. Mine have been subjected to sun, rain, hosing down and big dogs jumping on them for seven years and are still going strong.

    If IKEA uses a rugged outdoor fabric for their panels, they should hold up well.

  • Nancy
    April 11, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    I have to ask, this area you are concerned about fencing, can it be seen by the neighbors? I can totally see how these colorful fence ideas fit your aesthetic. However, I am very much into neutral earth tones. If you lived next door to me and put up one of those fences, I would just be beside myself! I would rather see you express your love of color and pattern with crazy, colorful flowers! I know that doesn’t solve your fence issue, but please take into account the neighbors when making your decision. It’s not like painting a room in your house or selecting a pattern for the new couch where your decision effects only you.
    Having said that, if it’s not visible to neighbors. . . go with what you love and will make you happy!

  • Sarah
    April 12, 2009 at 7:45 am

    The put in cups are a great idea, and cheap, too! I had no idea there were so many colors available. I guess my main concern would be getting the neighbors to agree with any fence designs because of the shared yard borders. I hope it all works out for you. I’m excited to see what design/material you go with for the fence. I’m sure it will turn out great and it is a great way to work with what you’ve got instead of tearing the fence down and putting up a new one (expensive!)

  • Missy
    April 12, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    What about a living fence? We had one in South Carolina. Now, I am not really a plant person and I do understand that the weather and growing climate differs greatly between South Carolina and Illinois. But, it might bear researching. Then you may never have to replace the chain link. We had jasmine growing up through our fence (kind of like a sturdy chicken wire type fence) so you couldn’t see the fencing at all. It seemed kind of wierd to have to trim the fence, but we would give it a haircut every so often to keep it looking shapely.

  • kristen_verity
    April 12, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Yeah, it seems as though you’ve steered away from the vines idea, but wanted to add that if you plant two types of vines they can take turns looking lush. Its more low maintenance than you think… I don’t know what grows up north but here in Florida have had great success with wisteria, bleeding heart vines, climbing roses, morning glories and even some “trained” shubbery like lorapetum (sp?).

    Best of luck with your delivery! Looking forward to the pics!

  • Alana
    April 16, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    What I’m doing this spring is painting our chain link using a big, fluffy paint roller, then over-seeding morning glories and moon flowers to use it as a giant trellis.

  • libby @ pinkshirtsandcarwrecks
    April 26, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    i love that put in cups pattern idea! we’re buying a house this year (eeee!) and i am so nervous about chain link fencing – i know it shouldn’t be a make or break for me, but now i know there are cute ways to disguise them! hooray! thank you!

  • Lizzie
    May 6, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    this post reminds me of something i blogged about recently — a fence that has lace design/patterns in it —

  • Jen
    July 29, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    There are brackets made by oz-post – I think they are called, appropriately enough, oz-brackets. ;) Then you can affix wooden privacy panels to your chain link fence and paint. You don’t have to take down the chain link – you can leave that up on the side you don’t want to see. Paint, stain, graphic, etc, on the side you do.

  • Gwen
    March 27, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    I don’t know if anyone is still looking at this tread, but I was wondering if anyone has seen the Ikea wind/sunshields at Ikea this year? When I click on the link in the original story it takes me to the Ikea login screen. I’ve done a search on the Ikea.com and Ikea.ca website but no luck.

    Can anyone help?

  • Making it Lovely | Transforming the so-so. » Blog Archive » On the Fence
    April 19, 2010 at 11:56 am

    […] been thinking about trying to create a little privacy along our back fence for quite some time. I saw the DYNING wind/sun shield at IKEA this weekend, and at just $7.99 I figured it was worth a […]

  • Amanda
    April 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I found the very cheapest way I ordered 5 4ft by 20ft brown tarps from global industrial.com for $85 after shipping and handling and I secured it with zip ties, it fixed my problem my dog cannot see anything on that side and it looks decent.

    • andrew
      April 22, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks for the ideas, including the simple brown tarp. The latter is by far the cheapest option I’ve seen. Does anyone know if the Ikea stuff holds up to UV?

  • Manny
    May 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    another option is to attach galvanized metal sheets over the chain link fence. They come in diff colors or can be painted and can be bought at HD/Lowes

  • Jackie Meeks
    November 12, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    I am just now seeing the post of the amazing fence with the put in cups. Could you please point me toward the design count. I was trying to count cups in the photo but wasn’t sure. Is there a pattern I could purchase? Are there other designed already made? Thanks for your assistance.