If you want to block your neighbor’s view of your backyard there are lots of privacy options even if you do not have a fence.
If you have a fence but it’s too low, see How to Make a Fence Taller.
Creative Ways to Make a Garden Private
If you are like me you want your backyard space to be a relaxing place without feeling like someone is watching you.
Many of us live in neighborhoods with houses close together and little outdoor privacy.
While big trees and shrubs offer good natural solutions to block views, they take a long time to grow.
The ideas I gathered here provide more immediate solutions to screen patios and garden areas.
The most important tip is to choose your placement carefully. I’ve provided a diagram below to help determine the best location for whatever structure you choose. Done right, you can block out the view entirely without spending a lot of money.
Before You Start
- Find out the local bylaws and ordinances regarding fences and garden structures to understand what is permitted in your area.
- Also find out whether any building permits will be required and if you will need to submit plans for approval ahead of time.
Pick A High Priority Area
Sometimes there are several spots in the garden that need better privacy.
Instead of trying to fix all the problem areas with one solution, tackle them one-by-one with a variety of solutions.
Start with whatever is most important—usually a patio seating area—and do that one first.
Privacy Solution Example
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 neighbor’s)?
- I want the sitting area at the back of my yard to be private.
- The neighbor 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 neighbor’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 neighbors are really close, a full privacy fence with the wood butted together (no gaps) is best.
- If neighbors 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.
20 Creative Ways to Add Privacy to Your Yard
1 Living Wall
A freestanding screen or metal planter holder with flowers or vines trailing down is a beautiful way to increase privacy next to a sitting area.
2 Privacy Lattice Arbor
You would need fence posts for a structure like this one. The middle arbor section makes it much more interesting than plain panels. The composting area is hidden behind it.
3 Fence Board Privacy Wall
This one is in my garden. I built the free standing structure to block the view from the neighbor’s deck into my garden. I built it using the dimensions of fence boards so I wouldn’t waste wood or have to do many cuts.
4 White Fence with Rose Arbor
While this structure defines the space between the driveway and yard, you could make one anywhere in the garden as a focal point. Covered in vines, it will definitely block the view.
5 Freestanding Bamboo Screen
I saw this idea on a garden tour. You could fill in the middle entirely with bamboo and make it wider to create an attractive privacy screen.
6 Patio Arbor
This structure is over a back deck near the house. Slats do a good job making things feel more private. You can see out from the slats but from a distance, it’s harder to see in.
7 Tree Branch Crib
This is another one from my garden. I did not build it for privacy but that ended up being a nice side effect. I like to keep tree branches that have fallen from the trees or from pruning and let them slowly decompose. Among other things, it’s good for attracting insects and feeding birds.
More: DIY Tree Branch Crib
8 Herringbone Slat Screen
Screens like this one look really pretty, allow air flow, but still define the space nicely and obscure the view between yards.
9 Raised Bed with Built-In Privacy Fence
This one is on another side of my garden. I wanted a big raised bed so I decided to use tall posts for the back corner and used them to add privacy wall.
10 Trellis in Fence
This one is part of the fence and I like the idea. It’s a way to make a fence taller without creating a solid wall. The clematis vine fills it in nicely.
Related: Clematis 101: Beginner’s Guide
11 Covered Patio
This is a pricier option. By adding this large structure over the patio, the homeowners have created a nice, private seating area.
12 Creative View Blocker
Many areas have bylaws restricting the maximum height of garden fences. But, it is sometimes legal to have taller structures within the yard. This tall screen is smart workaround.
13 Hanging Framed Screens
This one adds some privacy and interest to a fairly small back garden. The freestanding posts hold framed pieces of lattice.
This is a closer look at the corner:
14 Staggered Vertical Wood Screen
I think this one was probably photographed at a garden show. Wood posts are cut at various heights to form a staggered wall curving around the patio area.
15 Privacy Lattice Screen
Pieces of high-density lattice are framed between wood support posts completely blocking the view into the yard behind.
16 Lattice Framed Bench
It’s an arbor and seating area all in one. This would be a good beginner building project.
17 Free-Standing Screen
Another free standing screen idea. Adding garden art helps dress up the standard privacy lattice.
18 Horizontal Slat Fence
This one is a fence but I included it because I really like how horizontal slats add a modern touch to a garden. It’s a nice contrast to a typical fence with vertical boards.
19 Square Lattice Screen
This large square lattice is between a driveway and back garden. It’s see through and not really private but does define the space nicely.
20 Patio Screen
When it’s light out, this patio is private. You can see out but not in. When lights are on in the evening, you can see in.
I hope you have found some privacy ideas to use in your garden.
If you like ideas like this, be sure to sign up for the free Empress of Dirt Newsletter with fresh ideas every second Friday.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛