Our homes are our indoor sanctuaries, providing privacy and solace from the hectic day-to-day world. The backyard should be no different. Creating a private, tranquil outdoor space where you can relax with family and guests without intrusion isn’t as difficult as it might seem. It just takes some careful planning. Check out these backyard privacy ideas to learn how the right combination of fencing, landscaping features and outdoor structures can create a secluded oasis almost anywhere in your backyard.
Privacy fencing is usually the first line of defense in the battle for a more secluded backyard. A fence that surrounds your backyard at a height that discourages curious eyes is an obvious choice. This fencing can be made of wood, metal, masonry, vinyl or plastic, and in a solid, slatted or latticed design. It all depends on how much privacy you want, your budget and your aesthetic preferences. Fences work both ways, and can add privacy to a neighbor’s property as well as yours.
Wood fencing is a very common choice, often made of cedar or pressure-treated wood. Cedar is naturally resistant to the elements and pests. Pressure-treated wood is manufactured to resist insects and rotting for a long period of time. Wood fencing also lends itself well to different finishing options. It can be stained, as well as painted. Vinyl is also popular. Made of PVC, this fencing is durable and does not deteriorate over time. It is easy to clean and maintain because it doesn’t require refinishing.
Check codes and ordinances in your local municipality—as well as regulations from your homeowner’s association, if applicable—before constructing any fencing or other structures.
You can build a very effective barrier using natural landscaping elements. Trees, shrubs and hedges can be attractive and provide ample privacy and noise reduction in your backyard.
In addition to privacy, planting a row of trees can provide shelter and shade for your backyard. When planning your landscape, choose from fast-growing tree varieties such as eucalyptus, sycamore, weeping willow and evergreens. Evergreens provide full privacy all year round, and the same goes for shrubbery and hedges.
Planting a tall evergreen hedge is a natural way to create a private enclave in your backyard. Hedges also decrease neighborhood noise and reduce harsh winds. American Arborvitae, Green Giant Arborvitae, Emerald Arborvitae and wax myrtle are popular choices, and can grow to be more than 10’ in height. These hedges must be kept trimmed and manicured or they might grow too high. Prune hedges regularly to promote health, growth and density. Once per month during growing season should be adequate to keep the hedge at peak growth and shape so it will look its best.
Depending on your climate, you can create a bamboo screen by planting bamboo trees instead of building a fence. Bamboo grows quickly and is a good green alternative to regular fencing. When using bamboo for a privacy screen though, be sure and plant the clumping variety in the ground. The roots of this type clump together and don’t invade the surrounding area as quickly as the “running” type, which can spread quickly out of control around your yard or your neighbors’ yards. Avoid this type unless planted in deep trenches or in plastic or stone planters where it cannot spread out of control.
Outdoor structures such as pergolas, trellises, gazebos and privacy screens can also be used, particularly when a neighbor’s view is high enough to see over a fence or row of trees or hedges. Climbing vines can be grown atop a pergola for even more privacy, plus they add a natural beauty to your cloistered refuge. Screens and shades can be hung from both pergolas and gazebos to provide further enclosed seclusion. In addition, pergolas can be constructed around patio areas or in a separate location to extend an already private area. Similarly, you can strategically screens in your yard to create a private corner or at an exposed part of your patio or deck.
Check in your area for a reputable gazebo builder to find out what options are available. Or if you’re handy enough, you can construct one yourself using blueprints downloaded from online or from books. Remember to check local codes and ordinances before beginning. Your local True Value hardware store also has a selection of pre-fabricated gazebos to choose from.