Planning A Privacy Fence or Screen
Most of us would like the entire backyard garden to be private so we can feel comfortable without feeling like anyone is watching. For me, it’s my favourite place to nap and I sure don’t want any eyeballs on me while I do it!
While natural barriers like trees, hedges, shrubs, and vines are the most pleasing choices, they also take a long time to establish.
An immediate solution is to build a privacy screen or fence, immediately followed by long-term plantings that will further improve the privacy in future years.
There is a trick I will show you for placing the screen to ensure maximum privacy. At the end of the post you will also find several design ideas for privacy fence and screens.
If a low fence height is a problem, you can also make a fence taller.
Before You Do Anything
- Find out the local bylaws and ordinaces regarding fences and garden structures to understand what is permitted in your area.
- Also enquire whether any building permits will be required and if you will need to submit plans for approval ahead of time.
- A book like this one The Fence Bible: How to Plan, Install, and Build Fences may help you settle on a design. Check your local library for a copy.
Pick A High Priority Area
Realistically speaking, if you want to make your garden private, you should focus on one or two key areas and place your screen(s) to maximize privacy there.
Here’s what you need to establish
1. What location in your garden is top priority for privacy?
2. What are you trying to block out and where is it located? Where are those eyeballs you don’t want watching you?
3. Do you also want to block out sound (yours or the neighbour’s)?
First diagnose the situation
- I want the sitting area at the back of my yard to be private.
- The neighbour to the south likes to watch us from his second storey bedroom window.
- He’s too far away to hear our conversations so it’s just visual privacy we need.
The basic strategy for positioning the screen is—
- The higher the neighbour’s view, the closer you want the privacy screen to your sitting area.
This diagram shows how it works:
- The more you want sound to be blocked, the denser the screen should be.
- If neighbours are really close, a full privacy fence with the wood butted together (no gaps) is best.
- If neighbours are farther away, a trellis style screen will probably work (and generally looks much nicer near a patio).
Again, establishing some natural barriers likes trees, hedges, shrubs, or vines, will add more privacy in the future. Also, once they have matured, you may even wish to remove the screen or fence.
Until then, build something that fully protects the most important area for privacy in your garden. If you have privacy there, the rest won’t matter so much.
Here’s a bunch of privacy lattice products on Amazon to get ideas for the style you like.
Privacy Fence and Screen Design Ideas
Wide slat horizontal lattice
Prefab framed lattice with diagonal pattern
Prefab lattice trimmed with curves and placed on posts inset from fence line
Diagonal and vertical slats on privacy screen
High density prefab lattice framed on posts
Contemporary design with horizontal slats
Overhead arbour with vertical slats for privacy
Low density grid lattice screen – great for vines
A low fence was extended to provide privacy from adjacent neighbour’s deck
Privacy fence with diagonal board design
I hope you’ve found some useful ideas. If you’d like to make an existing fence taller, this shows some ways to do it.