11 Ideas for Better Backyard Privacy Sunshine and warm temperatures invite you and your family to spend entire days outdoors, so it’s important that you be able to enjoy endless hours in your backyard without worrying about too much exposure to the sun—or curious passersby. Try one of these 11 solutions for adding privacy and shade to your backyard oasis.
By Jennifer Noonan
Construct a Classic
Common in neighborhoods across the country, wood fences are practically an outdoor staple. With a variety of woods to choose from, ranging from light to dark, and just as many style choices, wood fencing does more than boost backyard privacy—it also boosts design. Compared with other fencing materials, wood is also relatively inexpensive and, with proper construction and routine maintenance, long lasting. So long as you have basic woodworking knowledge, a DIY wood privacy fence is well within reach.
Grow a Living Fence
Hedges have been a privacy landscaping hallmark for centuries, particularly along property lines. One advantage is that, depending on your choice of plant material, a well-planned hedge can reach virtually any desired height. The downside? It takes either lots of money or lots of time to establish a long, high hedgerow. Plus, hedges need a fair amount of maintenance. But with the right placement, even a hedge of modest proportions can be very effective.
Fill in with Bamboo
A built-in bonus of turning your backyard into an exotic tropical retreat? Natural privacy. That’s because bamboo, an essential for any tropical space, grows tall enough to shield your cozy hideaway. Plant it on its own, or use it to fill in gaps around pergolas and fences. Take care, though: Bamboo is invasive and should be planted only in beds or in containers with strong barriers.
Fold Out a Private Enclave
Wide open yards are great for a lot of reasons—but they’re not ideal for private outdoor spaces. Build an intimate corner into an expansive backyard by bordering a patio with small trees and shrubs. Then, anchor your patio furniture with a simple structure like the one shown here. Unlike a traditional privacy screen, the open frame permits light and wind to pass through, resulting in a space that’s both breezy and cozy.
Put Up a Pergola
For a little privacy without worry of blocking a stunning backyard view, consider building a pergola. Even though it stands without walls, its wood columns and beams still offer some obstruction for neighbors who might be looking in. A pergola is an exceptional choice for placement atop an elevated deck, as seen in this lofty example.
Plant Your Pergola
For a pergola with a little something extra—specifically, coziness and shade—fill in the structure’s sides and open top with twining plants. The crossbeams and poles make the perfect base for climbing greenery, especially in a sunny site. The overall effect is serene and romantic as well as intensely private. It may take a while for the vines to make it to the top—but it’s worth the wait!
Hang Out with Your Greenery
Here’s another take on a living fence: a custom-made vertical garden. Fill it with vegetables and herbs or flowering plants ready to overflow. No matter your choice of greenery, the decision to garden in hanging planters will both screen your yard from outside view and free up space to use for lounging, grilling, and other outdoor activities.
Elevate Your Style
If you’re rethinking your backyard altogether, you may be able to build privacy from the ground up. Cascading landscapes achieve this in a discreet yet picturesque way. Here, the backyard’s multilevel design showcases bushes and trees planted at varying heights, creating a secluded retreat that still feels open and airy in the middle. These terraced setups can also increase backyard decor options by spacing out such elements as hanging baskets and birdbaths on different levels so that all are highlighted without crowding one another.
Corrugated metal is one of the more modern fencing options on the market. Its industrial quality seriously shields your backyard from curious onlookers while contributing yet one more texture to the common palette of stone, gravel, and concrete. Found at home improvement stores and purchased in budget-friendly sheets, these metal fences are also extremely durable, ensuring a long-lasting privacy solution for your space.
Try a Trellis
Whether simple or elaborate, store-bought or custom-built, a backyard trellis provides a direct yet self-effacing solution to the privacy problem. Even as the structure interrupts sight lines, it admits softened breezes and dappled sunlight. Plus, as the ideal support for any number of climbing plants or flowering vines, a trellis can become an attention-grabbing focal point in the design of your outdoor living area.
Conceal with Curtains
Just as valuable in your backyard as they are in the bedroom, a few opaque panel curtains will both block your view of neighbors and further establish the sense of an outdoor room. If you’re able to mount them, curtain rods are the easiest way to keep your panels in place. Consider hanging curtains along the sides of a porch, pergola, or custom corner unit like this one.