Garden art on the cheap DIY: Glass marbles in your fence

marbles in a fence panel
Colorful marbles make a plain old fence sparkle.

I had the pleasure of speaking at the Lake Owasso Garden Club this week. It was a full classroom of avid, fun-loving gardeners and the topic at hand was Art in the Garden. As I told the group, I think art and the garden go together like peas and carrots and as I prepped my talk, I was reminded of one of my favorite DIY project from my own garden, the Garden Drama test garden.

Festooning a six foot privacy with marbles is addictive fun that really adds a pop and punch to the garden setting, especially when the sun hits it from the back. The process is pretty simple.

I would recommend using new marbles. Vintage marbles will vary in size, slightly, so it you can deal with this, go ahead. So first, find your marbles if you’ve lost them, then determine a drill bit size that will bore a hole, ever so slightly smaller than your marble. You want it to press in snugly to help it stay put. No adhesive needed. I advise drilling test holes in scrap wood to help you get the right sized holes made. You made need to purchase a special sized bit.

Then go to town. Create a meandering pattern of holes on your fence. Think constellations of stars for inspiration. A gate is a great place to begin, but anywhere you can drill will benefit from the little glimmers of colorful light.

I lose a marble or two over the winter from the wood contracting and expanding and maybe a couple over the summer, but a little vigilance, popping them back in is all that’s needed.

Beware though, once you get going on this one, you will want to be be-dazzling your entire fence. Have fun!


115 Comments Add yours

  1. Terri Devich says:

    What a fun idea! Thanks for the inspiration,

  2. Lindsey O says:

    This is so great!! Thanks for sharing!
    Found you through


  3. Love this idea. Wish I had a fence. LOL Debra

  4. Tracy says:

    I LOVE THIS! I’ll be trying it tomorrow.

  5. CLee says:

    What a fun idea, love it! Did you use two different sized marbles?

  6. Amy says:

    I love this idea. I wonder if they would become flying debris during a hurricane? Living on the gulf coast, we have to think about things like that.

  7. This idea, with an adjustment, will be a great addition to a gorilla installation I am working on… Thanks!

  8. Melissa says:

    Best idea ever.

  9. Devon Byers says:

    really brilliant…& my kids will LOVE helping with this project…

  10. “Find your marbles, if you’ve lost them….” Love it!

  11. Kelsie says:

    This is such a simply wonderful idea to add a little rainbow to your day…I am not sure where, but I know I will add this to something around here 🙂

  12. Sandi says:

    Simply fantastic.

  13. I Adore This! Thanks For The Creative Candy 🙂

  14. Positively BEAUTIFUL and STUNNING! I’d hang a hammock nearby and just stare at the gate all day long.

  15. How cool! I’m linking up next week at Decor Hacks.

  16. GENIUS. and adorable 🙂

  17. Starr says:

    What a cool idea! I’m thinking of doing this on a 6 ft gate and putting a solar flood light behind it to shine through at night. I wonder if the glass globs would work? But, as you said, with the marbles they would pop into the hole so will only experiment with globs for now! Thanks!

  18. Retta says:

    I love this idea!!

  19. Cherrel says:

    what a freakin cool idea! I have a huge 6 foot fence on 3 sides of my house and I can see it all done up with marbles. I will have to do this soon.,
    Thanks so much for sharing

  20. Michelle L. says:

    Amazing idea – what a cool look!

  21. Lovely idea! found you through Pinterest, My fence has a few holes where wood knots have fallen out – I’m going to adapt this to fill the holes – will need a little glue I think – otherwise mowing the lawn would be … interesting!

  22. Thanks for sharing, I sent link to some of my friends, great idea!

  23. Garden Beet says:

    fab idea – love it

  24. Heidi M says:

    I LOVE this idea and am ready to adorn my side gate!… as soon as I get some marbles… I have been searching for clear coloured marbles… I can’t find them ANYwhere! 😦 Where did you get yours from??

    1. Garden Drama says:

      Toys R Us sometimes has them. Good Luck.

      1. Thanks, I didn’t see any there, but I’ll keep looking!

    2. Gary says:

      I had the same trouble with finding marbles – but my wife found a wonderful substitute at Hobby Lobby. In the bead/jewelry section we found Bead Treasures, Glass Bead Mix. Its a 1 lb jar of multicolor beads meant for jewelry. The jar has two sizes of beads, however the larger size works wonderfully as a replacement for marbles. A 3/8″ flat drill bit creates a hole in the fence which is just a little bit too small for the beads, but I added a little swirling motion to the drill as I drilled the fence and they fit perfectly. A little tap with a hammer and they lodge into the hole very tightly.

      The beads were $11.99 but I got them 1/2 off on one of their department sales. I did about 30 feet of fencing and probably didn’t use half of them.

      Best of luck

      1. I’m in Australia, so no Hobby Lobby, but there would be other hobby shops around. I’ll definitely give them a look. And I know of a big bead shop, they may have something similar to what you used. Your fence must look great! Thanks for your help.

      2. Jeanie says:

        Try the flat colored marble stone they work great.

    3. If you want claer marbles The spray paint cans have a marble in them so if you can get a empty spray can just slowly cut the can until you hear the air coming out then wait until all the air is out finish cutting the can dump it into a cheese colth or old straner and pick up your marble hack saw works the best

  25. dan says:

    Im going to try this

  26. I love that bit of whimsy. If only the fence behind me belonged to me. It is a renter house, so I may contact the owner.

  27. Amber says:

    So pretty! I just wonder what my HOA would say….hmmmm…..

  28. dawn says:

    Love this! Going to do this on my fence. 🙂

  29. vfaithv says:

    Now I’m just wishing my landlord won’t mind…

  30. Lesa Divito says:

    Awesome idea thanks

  31. Karen Conklin says:

    I am doing this for sure! Love it!

  32. connie england says:

    Why didn’t I think of this, Great idea! another “why didn’t I think of this” tks for this one!

  33. Larry says:

    I found these resources. I ordered from Moon Marble. Select carefully for this project as not all marbles are translucent.

    You could also consider using vase gems.

    Have fun!

  34. Margot says:

    If I only had a fence! Love the idea 🙂

    1. How about using a pallet you can probably pick up for free at a lumber store? You can refinish it and marble it up! Stand it anywhere you want as a backdrop.

      1. Garden Drama says:

        This is a fab idea!

  35. Katherine Lasserre says:

    Love this how true about peas & carrots.
    I lv to garden and be leave all gardens are a work of art.

  36. I run a neighborhood magazine here in Texas and I’m always looking for new ideas to place into the publication. Love the idea of the fence project. Did you take the photos? contact me and I would like permission to print this in my next magazine. (PS I grew up in Long Lake MN) just outside the city.
    my email is

  37. This is a terrific idea! I’ve always thought that those wood privacy fences could be pretty boring, and your idea of using colored marbles is a fantastic way of bringing some life and sparkle to them. Love it and thanks!

  38. Every craft store in my area has a HUGE assortment of glass marbles in the floral department! They are quite cheap and lovely! They are usually used in the bottom of glass vases, thus the floral department. Even our Walmart has them.

  39. Chelle says:

    This is the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. I can’t wait until spring to do this to my ugly fence!

  40. Lisa Moen says:

    I absolutely love this idea. I have a 6′ wood fence facing a main road. This would make a blah fence pretty to look at. I love it and I’m going to do it for sure. I just need to find where to buy a whole bunch of marbles. Thanks

  41. gfusione says:

    Thank you for selflessly sharing this Phenomenal way to express soul’s creativity!! 🙂

  42. maria says:

    This is so fabulous…and makes me so happy …going to the hardware tmw for a drill bit…tjanks so much for sharing…got the perfect fence

  43. Lotus Mama says:

    Whimsical and I love it!

  44. Terri Sullivan says:

    Very nice, now the juices are flowing even more wildly, thanks alot, I think!!

  45. Man if we lived in town and had a fenced yard I would definitely do this.

  46. katrina says:

    This is awesome. Actually, I found my marbles in the toy aisle of the dollar store…as for my mind, well, i’m still looking. But I can’t wait to beautify my fence.

    1. Tina Natonabah says:

      there are bags at Michael’s art supply too – if you have Michaels where you live, you will find all those marbles you lost right there! :0) but if you are like me, you may leave a portion of your paycheck there on a regular basis! hahaha!

  47. I love this! I think I will do this behind my bottle tree, love the sparkle

  48. laguna dirt says:

    great idea! how cool when the sun catches those marbles! i pinned on pinterest!!

  49. May I please use your photo? I am thinking of making a post at like this:

    1) Drill holes
    2) Fit Marbles
    3) See color
    For more information read this. (“this” will be linked to )

    Thank you,
    Paul Danger Kile

    1. Garden Drama says:

      Yes, please, thank you!

  50. I love this!!! Such a cool idea!!! 🙂 **

  51. Tina Natonabah says:

    I’m thinking you could even “write a message” like this – I have a very long wooden fence and was thinking it would be fun to write something like “God is Love” in colored marbles…. I guess it may look weird from the back tho …. hmmmmm.
    EVOL SI DOG? hahaha!

  52. Reblogged this on justalittlecracked and commented:
    When I have a house of my own, I will do this. For now it looks like I’m going to be taking a hatchet and cutting down branches to make my own garden fence. Should be an interesting day tomorrow 🙂 I’ll keep you all posted. For now, enjoy this lovely post by Garden Drama.

  53. Robyn says:

    Awesum idea , I live in New Zealand and I cant find clear bright coloured marbles like this, only the ones with swirls anyone have any ideas where I might be able to buy them or send overseas for them

    1. Robyn If you want claer marbles The spray paint cans have a marble in them so if you can get a empty spray can just slowly cut the can until you hear the air coming out then wait until all the air is out finish cutting the can dump it into a cheese colth or old straner and pick up your marble

  54. Tee says:

    hope the neighbors don’t mind!! guess we will find out. 🙂

  55. Catina Ingargiola says:

    What a fun and simple idea. I love this! Now I just have to find my marbles. That might be a bigger problem than I imagined!

  56. Karola says:

    Very pretty and such a great idea!

  57. Anet says:

    I love this. We just built a tree house for my daughter and I’m going to go to town on the plain walls. THANK you for the idea!!!

  58. SMB says:

    I love this idea! I am going to try this out on some folding doors (kind of like closet doors) that we have in our kitchen leading into the mud room.

  59. Brandy Alvarado says:

    I went to a restaurant in Okinawa once that had done something similar to this with a picnic table. They ran rope lights under it and turned them on at night! Just about to do this to some wooden chairs in the backyard…

  60. i cant find any marbles! ive looked at wal-mart, target, hobby lobby, and micheals. non of thoses stores have them! where can i buy the right marbles?

    1. Garden Drama says:

      Toys R Us? Antique shops?

    2. Belinda says:

      I couldn’t find them where I live either, so I bought mine from eBay.

  61. I’m going to do it on my deck panels. I’d do it on the actual deck (where you walk) itself, but I think the pressure of walking on it would pop the marbles out — unless I put them in a corner area where no one walks. Hmmmmmmmm.

  62. Rebecca says:

    This never even occurred to me, and it’s a spectacular idea! Love the photo, as well.

  63. Sharon M. says:

    You are so clever and creative! My little guy will love helping me do this :o)

    1. Garden Drama says:

      Thank you and have fun!

  64. dawn says:

    What size drill bit did you use?

    1. Garden Drama says:

      You really need to play around to get the right drill bit size, depending on the marble.

  65. Elizabeth says:

    Any opinion on whether HOA’s would have a problem with this idea? We have zero lot line property and share the fence line? Please advice!!!!!

    1. Garden Drama says:

      I think it would depend on the HOA. My sense is they wouldn’t be in love with the idea!

  66. paul says:

    I will be building a fence just for this at our preschool

  67. Michelle says:

    Love this idea! I seen it on Pinterest. I did this today on the fence around our hot tub. I can’t wait for the sun to shine thru it now. I used the ‘Vintage’ marbles and even used 1″ sized ones. A lot of changing the drill bit 😦 Thanks for the awesome idea!

  68. Lynette says:

    My son and I made a marble gate and it is just beautiful. I am using it as a trellis indoors this winter, but I’ll probably put it outside in spring because it looks best with natural light coming through marbles. We used a dab of clear silicone caulking to hold marbles in place.

  69. daisy says:

    Found your post thru pinterest; very, very cool idea! Love it!

  70. Belinda says:

    I have started doing this to my fence. I fell In love at first site when I seen the post on Pinterest. I have used vintage as I can’t seem to find them at any stores where I live. I have a shipment of 400 marbles on the way from eBay right now and looking for ideas to keep it interesting. The picture you posted here is the only one I have seen so far. Loving it!

  71. Venus Monyhan says:

    I love this as it is so inexpensive and creative!!

  72. Andrea says:

    Beautiful! I Love It!

  73. nutsfortreasure says:

    Reblogged this on Living and Lovin.

  74. Cody says:

    I was wondering if anybody had tried the “writing a message with the marble” idea. I am making a chest for my girlfriend and was thinking of writing a message in it. Just wondering how well it lit up??

  75. Eleanor Affeldt says:

    What a wonderful idea, l will try it 🙂 thanks for sharing

  76. John Derwent says:

    This is actually one of the cleverest things I’ve seen for a long time. I also like Cody’s idea of writing a message with it. It’s nice when people get a bit creative with their fencing.

  77. vente nappes says:

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the best sites on the internet.
    I’m going to highly recommend this blog!

  78. Renee says:

    What a beautiful transformation. Thank you for the inspiration. I’ve repinned this to Pinterest/homedepot on the “Garden Party” pinboard.

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