Create Privacy in Your Yard
Get tips for making your yard a private paradise from two hardcore gardeners who turned their corner landscape into a secluded retreat.
Everything In This Slideshow
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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An urn set on one of the fence supports looks lovely and provides privacy. It's another way to make a fence seem taller without violating codes.
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Imbue your landscape with another layer of privacy by dividing it into garden rooms. When you can't see your entire backyard from one vantage point, it feels more secluded -- and offers guests a sense of mystery as they explore around the next corner.
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Put Your Attention Where it Matters
Small yards can be easier to screen than large yards. If you have too much area to put up a fence or hedge within your budget, start small and concentrate on creating privacy where you need it most, such as around a deck or patio. You can always expand your plans in future years.
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Container gardens can be a delightful substitute for a wall or fence. Here, for example, Brian and Robert planted a tall container with a tree-form hydrangea. Together the plant and container reach about 6 feet tall; of course, as the hydrangea grows, the height will increase.
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Make It Look Good on Both Sides
Don't forget to add a little landscaping around the outside of your private area. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate. A simple viburnum with mondo grass and a Japanese maple make the fence look great to passersby.
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Even on their corner lot, Brian and Robert created a private retreat. We hope their tips help you do the same in your yard!