Garden Art / Garden Crafts / garden design

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!

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

  1. 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.

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  4. 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!

  5. 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

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  7. 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!

  8. 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??

    • 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

      • 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.

    • 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

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  13. 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

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

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  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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.

    • 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!

  20. 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!

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  22. 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.

  23. 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

    • 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

  24. 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!

  25. 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!!!

  26. 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.

  27. 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…

  28. 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.

  29. 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!!!!!

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

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  34. 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!

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  36. 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??

  37. 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.

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  39. 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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