Create Privacy in Your Yard

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Screen from Above

If your neighbors have a tall house or it’s higher on a hill than yours is, shielding your deck or patio from view can be tricky. But one easy way to do it is to install a canopy of outdoor-friendly fabric as homeowners Brian Caldwell and Robert Shore have done here.

Bonus: The canopy also casts a soft, filtered light on the patio, keeping it cooler on hot summer days.

Use a Focal Point

Pull a little landscape sleight of hand by using a focal point to create a distraction. Any eye-catching object works if it draws more attention than the view you’re trying to screen. Here, a small raised water garden captivates garden guests — and adds a bit of tranquility.

Add a Natural Soundtrack

Your yard won’t feel secluded if you hear noise from passersby, traffic, or barking dogs. So create another layer to privacy like Brian and Robert did by including a water garden with a fountain to give you the relaxing sound of moving water.

Test Garden Tip: Don’t forget plants such as ornamental grasses and quaking aspen that generate sound anytime there’s a breeze.

Grow a Living Wall

Hedges are a classic way to screen a view and make privacy. They come in a tremendous variety of colors and textures, from dark green yews and arborvitaes to silvery junipers.

Test Garden Tip: Look for columnar (also called fastigiate) varieties that grow tall but stay narrow to keep them from eating up yard space.

Put Up a Fence

Hedges look friendly, but they tend to be expensive and slow to grow. So for instant gratification, put up a fence. Happily, fences don’t have to be cold and unfriendly — install architectural details as Brian and Robert did to make your fence a piece of landscape art.

Add Windows

If your space is small, create windows, as seen in this gate, and vary the height of your plants or structures. That will give the area some visual relief — and give your yard a playful quality.

Soften the Edges

If you do put up a fence, use plants to soften it. This corner, for example, became a delightful display of color and texture thanks to an ‘American Beauty’ climbing rose.

Check the Rules

Most municipalities have rules about fence height. Brian and Robert live on a corner lot and needed more screening than the rules allowed, so they found a clever solution. The pair installed the largest fence they could (the bottom fence in this photo). But then just inside it, they installed a freestanding trellis and arbor (which supports a climbing rose and ‘Aunt Dee’ wisteria). Because the trellis and arbor are a separate structure, they don’t violate city code.

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