12 Simple Landscaping Ideas for Privacy in Your Yard

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Experience privacy in your own garden. Here are 12 simple to do ideas...

Ahhh, there is nothing quite like enjoying the privacy of your backyard, except that is for those pesky neighbors who keep staring at you. The reality is that as our population has boomed, the size of most backyards has shrunk to the point where we are all practically living on top of each other.

While a fence might work, it would need to be very tall to give you the privacy you crave. The good news is that I have put together 13 alternative landscaping ideas for privacy that will not only give you the privacy you crave but can be aesthetically pleasing as well.

The Top Landscaping Ideas for Privacy

1. Bamboo (In Pots or the Ground)

Bamboo offers privacy at a high rate of speed

Bamboo is considered to be one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Bamboo can be planted directly in the ground or in containers to match your needs. You can even buy bamboo plants that are already 10 to 30 feet tall for instant privacy.

Beyond this, even the smallest shoots can provide you with a full privacy screen within no more than a couple of years. Bear in mind there are a number of types of bamboo, be sure to match the type with the climate you live in for the best results.

One important thing to remember is that bamboo tends to spread rapidly and your neighbors may not be too thrilled if your bamboo starts to infiltrate their yard.

bamboo-curtain

Image Courtesy of Bamboo Garden

Pros Cons
Rapid growth provides a fast privacy screen Rapid spread may not be good for neighbors
Relatively inexpensive Need to buy the right bamboo for your climate
Makes a good wind/nosy neighbor break Taller plants can be very expensive

2. Acmena Smithii (Neighbors – be – gone)

Many Names but a Fantastic Way to Keep the Neighbors at Bay

The Acmena Smithii is known by a number of different names, the most common of which is the “Lilly Philly”, and in New Zealand they call the “Monkey Apple.” No matter what you choose to call this plant, it can be grown as a shrub or in hedgerows.

When properly placed, the plants can reach up to 16 feet or more in height and can be up to 18-20 feet wide. During the summer months, the plants feature off-white flowers that occur in clusters and in the winter months they bear fruit. Because the foliage of the Acmena Smithii is very thick, these plants make a wonderful natural privacy screen.

australia_native_plant

Photo: Australia Native Plants Society (Australia)

Pros

Cons

Can be pruned to shape

Fruit is edible but relatively tasteless

Able to withstand periods of drought

Attracts several varieties of moths

Several varieties that grow rapidly

Typically can grow too high to prune if not kept pruned back at a young age

3. Tiered Planting

Build your privacy one layer at a time

Although bamboo and Acmena Smithii are among the top landscaping ideas for privacy, many landscapers in the 20th Century turned to planting gardens in layers for aesthetics and for privacy.

The basic idea here is to start with a taller layer of trees and tall shrubs at the border of your property, add in medium sized shrubs and plants in the middle, and then add in dwarf shrubs and perennials in front.

The original concept behind this was to create a border that was in bloom practically all year long, but this is also a great way to add beauty and privacy to your yard.

nancy_drews

Photo: Nancy Andrews

Pros

Cons

Plants that bloom all year add lots of beauty

Buying so many plants can be expensive

When planting properly can create a dense privacy screen

Tends to take up a relatively large area of your yard

Trees, shrubs, and plants attract lots of wildlife

You may need to hire a professional landscaper to be sure you get the right plants

4. Fence Trellis

A Beautiful Blend of Man-Made and Natural Privacy

Trellis fences covered with any number of plants and creeping vines have long been used to add beauty and privacy to yards around the globe. The basic premise is that you first install a trellis style fence along the border of your yard and then plant some form of creeping vine plant like honeysuckle or ivy.

Over the course of time, the plants fill in the gaps in the trellis, giving you the privacy you desire. The good news is that there are literally dozens of plants you can choose from to beautify your garden.

trellis_fances

Photo: Pinterest

Pros

Cons

You get to choose the plants to cover the trellis

Can be expensive depending on the size and type of trellis and plants you choose

The flowers look beautiful in the spring and summer

Plants take a long time to grow and cover the trellis

You can make the trellis as short or tall as you want

Plants attract a lot of bees that may be an allergy issue

5. Lattice Screens

An Inexpensive Alternative for Your Privacy

In reality, a lattice screen is any type of fencing made of thin strips of wood that have been woven into a decorative pattern. Those that have been designed specifically to be used in landscaping for privacy tend to have openings that are 1 -1/2 inches or less, those that are intended for more decorative use may have opening as big as 3-inches or more.

You can, of course, buy pre-made lattice screens in most discount home improvement supercenters or if you feel that you have the skill and patience, you can build your own.

lattice_screens

Photo: gtrinity.com

Have a quick look at this video on creating a privacy wall using lattice screens and plants:

Pros

Cons

Can be built at any height

Tall fences need to be set in concrete

Does not have to be expensive

The wood will need to be resealed to prevent mold and rot

Pre-made lattice easy to find

Plants take time to grow well enough to add the privacy you desire

6. Fencing

Fence Yourself In and Your Neighbors Out

Fencing comes in an incredible range of sizes and designs, making it a great choice when looking at landscaping ideas for privacy. You can now buy privacy fencing made from wood or plastic resin in sizes ranging up to 12 feet tall or more.

There is nothing quite like a solid fence to keep your nosy neighbors at bay and finally give you and your family the privacy you truly desire and deserve. However, you should check with your local authorities to see if you need a permit to erect a fence.

fencing

Photo: Pinterest

Pros

Cons

Solid fence panels offer exceptional privacy

Wood fence panels will rot over time

Plastic fence panels never rot

Plastic fence panels can be expensive

Hundreds of styles of fence panels to choose from

Your neighbors or HOA might object to a solid fence

7. Creepers/ Vertical Garden Beds

In Ground/Above Ground – Natural Beauty and Privacy

No one ever said you must build a long-term solid privacy fence just to be able to sunbathe privately in your backyard. You can create a vertical garden that adds plenty of privacy to your yard, even if you are renting.

There are literally dozens of plants to choose from that can be trained to grow vertically up a fence, a trellis, or in individual planters. All these plants need is something to grab onto as they climb their way up.

As long as you keep them properly watered and choose the right variety, you should have year round privacy.

creepers

Photo: Sanjay Nursery

Take a peek at how This Old House builds a vertical garden:

Screenshot

Pros

Cons

Adds a lot of beauty to your yard

Some climbing plants are invasive and may spread far more than you expect

The plants themselves are relatively inexpensive

Most climbers need a solid structure to grow on

Some plants can be grown in containers, making them a great choice for renters

Some plants can actually damage the structure they grow on

8. Raised Garden Beds

Stretch Out On Your Favorite Beach Blanket in Privacy

There is nothing worse than the feeling you are being watched when you are stretched out trying to soak up some sun. Even in you don't worry about your neighbors seeing what you are up to when walking around your backyard, there are some times when you really need a little privacy.

One great way to do this is to create a wall of raised garden beds ranging in height from just above ground level to those in the back that are tall enough to give you the privacy you need. You can even use some of the lower containers to grow fresh fruits like strawberries or vegetables.

Follow this great video on raised garden beds and privacy walls:

diy_raised_bed

Pros

Cons

Add lots of color to your yard

May take up space

Can plant various fruits and vegetables

Require regular care

Does not need to be expensive

May attract a wide range of pests and rodents

9. Sails

Instant Privacy When and Where You Need It

From nosey neighbors to peeping toms in the high rise across the way, your privacy is being slowly etched away. While a permanent privacy fence or wall might be the perfect way to keep your ground level neighbors at bay, they don't do much for keeping anyone above the second floor from sticking their nose into your business.

Privacy sails are among the newest landscaping ideas for privacy. Typically, these “sails” are offered in wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors for you to choose from. They are mounted on frames that can be moved around or come with hardware that lets you attach them to buildings, poles, or trees in your yard to block nosy neighbors and the sun.

sails

Pros

Cons

Complete flexibility

Should not be used in medium to high winds

Come in a wide range of sizes and colors

Limited coverage based on size

Can provide you with instant privacy

Cheaper materials tend to rot

10. Laser Cut Privacy Screens

Create Your Own Custom Privacy

When you need a small amount of privacy that can be moved to block the nosiest of neighbors, laser cut privacy screens offer the perfect solution. Picture this, you and your significant other are getting ready to slip into the hot tub for a little personal relaxation when you notice your neighbors are grilling dinner.

The worst part is that your HOA doesn't allow for any kind of fencing. A custom laser cut privacy screen can be the one thing that separates you from your neighbors and gives you the privacy you need.

The best part is that you can buy pre-designed panels or you can order custom cut panels with your own personal designs, depending on how much you want to spend.

privacy_screens

Photo: Home Design Directory (AUS)

Pros

Cons

Light weight small panels that are easy to move around

Prices range from relatively cheap to extremely expensive

You can have custom patterns cut into your panels

Wil not stand up well in moderate winds

Offer plenty of personal privacy no installation required

Only useable to cover small areas such as a porch or hot tub

11. Consider Curtains

Bring Inside Privacy Outside

Just as you use curtains to create privacy in your home, you can also use them to create a small private space for yourself in your backyard. This method of creating privacy is a little more involved than using a laser cut panel or privacy sail, but when done right can create a nice little corner to relax in.

All it takes is creating a wooden frame with or without a roof, create a bench or to and then hand up the curtains. One word of caution, though, if you live in areas with high winds or lots of rain or snow, you will need to take the curtains down during inclement weather.

curtains

hoto: Zillow Digs home in Phoenix, AZ

Pros

Cons

Can be used to create a cozy and romantic nook

Not suited for areas with high winds

Can be relatively inexpensive to build

Will need some building skills to complete

Offers a very private space on your patio or anywhere in your yard

You may need a permit depending on size and styl

12. Pergola

Moveable Privacy with Style in Your Backyard

While most people tend to think of a pergola as a small covered patio, this is only the beginning. When you take the time to add some type of curtains or roll-up bamboo shades to your pergola, you create the ultimate family get together space with plenty of privacy from peeping toms and nosey neighbors.

You can open and close the shades to suit not only the privacy you need but also to block out the sun during different times of the day. You can build your own pergola, buy a kit, or have a pre-built one delivered to your home. You can even cover your pergola with living plants for added beauty.

pergola

Photo: zillow.com/digs

Before the Curtains Close

As you can see there are a number of different landscaping ideas for privacy to choose from. Some like fences and living walls take time and effort, while privacy screens and sails are easy to set up and more portable.

For myself, I built an 8-foot-tall plastic fence on one side and then added a curtained “love nest” in one corner for my wife and I to enjoy. The one thing you must keep in mind is that you need to check building codes and permit requirements in your area before building any kind of permanent fence or structure.

If you have enjoyed reading about the different landscaping ideas for privacy, please let me know.

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