Best Landscaping Ideas for Backyard Privacy

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Wooden gate surrounded by tall privacy hedges

At the end of a long day, you might want to get away from it all. There’s no better way than to step out into your own private backyard oasis.

Here are some backyard privacy ideas for every home:

Backyard privacy ideas for every home 

Good fences

Most backyards have a fence. But what if yours doesn’t provide as much privacy as you’d like? Two popular options:

  • Install a new fence
  • Cover the fence with greenery

Installing a solid wood, composite, or vinyl privacy fence is a viable option if you want to have a solid barrier between you and your neighbor. But remember, solid fencing may not be the best choice if you live in an area with hurricanes or want to increase the security in your backyard.

An alternative is to plant a non-invasive vine or climbing plant along your chain-link fence and let it grow and grow. Vines can quickly cover the openings in a chain-link fence and provide the privacy you’re after.

Think tall

tall, bright yellow forsythia bushes next to a carport
Roger W | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Even if you have a privacy fence or other type of solid or semi-solid fence, you may crave a little more visual separation from your neighbor’s lawn. If so, install plants that will grow tall and give you more of the privacy you crave. Here are a few to get you started:

For better long-term performance, install a mixed screen of plantings. Planting a mixed screen simply means that you plant different species along your screen or barrier instead of one. A variety of species means you’re more likely to avoid disease or insects decimating your entire screen. Another benefit is the range of color, size, and texture it brings to your backyard oasis.

Build a wall

Retaining wall flower beds create the perfect opportunity for more privacy in your sloped backyard. A few tall shrubs or small trees add dimension and privacy. If the wall is deep enough, you can even add steps or multiple tiers, which gives you more options for privacy and style. (See our “Build layers” section below.)

In addition to being a functional element in your backyard, retaining walls can be customized for almost any backyard aesthetic. You can choose various sizes of boulder-type stones; smaller, more uniformly sized retaining wall blocks; cinder blocks, and so forth. And there are just as many colors to choose from as textures and sizes. 

If you have a sloped backyard, consider a retaining wall. They offer both functional and aesthetic enhancements to any landscape.

Lattice fences

For a small space, a lattice fence is a top choice if you need a customizable privacy fence option. Here are a few ways you can easily customize a lattice fence:

  • Color: Paint the fence any color you like
  • Height: Easy to cut to size
  • Material: Most are wood, some are plastic
  • View: Open view vs. filled in with plantings or vines

If you want an open fence design without going the chain-link route, lattice may be the way to go.

Living walls and hedges

Whether you install tall plants next to a fence or use shrubs to create a border in the lawn, living walls and hedges are a popular outdoor privacy solution. You have options whether you need something tall or on the shorter side. Here are a few favorites: 

  • Azalea
  • Cypress
  • Loropetalum
  • Spirea
  • Yew 

Vertical gardens

Growing plants vertically can provide green cover that will block your view or simply give you something pretty to enjoy throughout the season. Here are a few vertical garden ideas:

  • Grow vining plants to soften a fence line and provide more privacy
  • Use lattice to trellis roses, vines, honeysuckle, etc., for extra beauty and privacy along a fence or wall
  • Use vining plants alongside and over the top of a pergola to provide shade and beauty

Privacy screens

Privacy screens are a low-cost way to add more privacy to your outdoor living space and come in many shapes and sizes:

  • Add curtains around the top of a pergola for more privacy. 
  • Build a tri-fold screen to shield your sight lines from less attractive scenery around your home
  • Use a hinged screen around a hot tub or outdoor reading nook
  • Use a decorative screen with etched metal to add panache.]
  • Build a screen with solid material on the bottom and lattice on the top as a decorative and functional element in your lawn

Build layers

To achieve added privacy with your backyard landscaping, think in layers. Layering is one way to employ the mixed screen approach we discussed earlier. Layered plantings in staggered heights and widths will add privacy and a pleasing aesthetic to your landscape design. 

For example, if you have a slatted, lattice, chain link, or otherwise open fence, layer arborvitae, a tall bush, and ornamental grasses in front. A well-planned layering of height, width, and texture will provide you with the privacy you want.

Add a room

If adding a row of plants along the entire fence line is too rich for your budget, opt for an outdoor room. This could be something as simple as a few hinged room dividers. If you have a little more room in the budget, consider a pergola with outdoor curtains or a patio attached to the house. Your budget and imagination are your only limits. 

Outdoor rooms can be as temporary or as permanent as you’d like and offer a bit of privacy to a wide-open space.

Final tips before you start landscaping

  • Check your local ordinances during the pre-planning process.

Cities and homeowners associations (HOAs) often have rules about fencing heights in your lawn or neighborhood. If you’re unsure, check sites such as library.municode.com or give your city a call.

  • Call a pro if landscaping isn’t your forte.

Landscape architects and designers do this for a living. If your project goes beyond the level that you can DIY, look for local pros online. They’ll have an online portfolio of past projects. Find a few firms you like, and schedule a consultation.

FAQ about landscaping for backyard privacy

1. What are the best budget-friendly ideas for backyard privacy?

Go the DIY route
— If you’ve got a green thumb but have never picked up a drill, focus on strategies that use plants to provide the privacy you desire. If you’re better with wood and power tools, focus on the hardscaping elements you can build yourself. 

  • Use more perennials than annuals
  • — Perennials grow for many years, while annuals germinate, bloom, and die in a single year.

  • Save your seeds
  • — If you love the bright colors and interesting shapes of your annuals, save the seeds at the season’s end. Then you can plant them again next year without the repeated expense.

    2. What are some low-maintenance ways to add privacy to my backyard?

  • Opt for evergreens
  • — When you’re installing trees and shrubs, opt for evergreens. Deciduous trees and shrubs shed their leaves, which means more work for you in the fall. Evergreens provide greenery that lasts all year without leaf cleanup in the fall.

  • Embrace hardscaping
  • — Structural elements like privacy walls, seating areas, curtain walls, and so on don’t require pruning, thinning, weeding, or disease control. The only thing you need to do is maintenance cleaning. Use hardscaping over plants for less upkeep over the long haul.

  • Know the plant’s mature size
  • — Before you install new plants, know their mature size. Trying to keep a plant shorter (or wanting it to grow taller) than it wants to be is an exercise in futility. Install plants that will grow to the right mature size for their space.

  • Install native plants
  • — Once established, native plants require less time and energy to maintain. In addition, you’ll spend less money (and time) on fertilizer, water, and insecticides since these plants have been in your local area for hundreds of years.

    3. How can I reduce noise pollution?

    Here are a few ideas to help reduce the noise in your backyard:
    Install an acoustic fence
    Plant tall trees or bushes
    Use a fence plus trees and bushes
    Build a fountain or water feature

    If landscaping is not something you like to do with your free time, contact one of our local lawn care pros. They’ll install, mow, and maintain your plantings so you get the most out of your backyard year-round.

    Main Photo Credit: Pxhere

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