Give your favorite plants better view-blocking power by growing them in raised beds or berms. You will be surprised at how much more secluded your yard feels by mounding the soil enough to add a foot or two to your plants' height. Plus it puts medium-size plants at eye level.
Test Garden Tip: Raised beds or berms are also a perfect solution if you struggle with rocky, clay, or otherwise poor soil.
Get a Room
If you don't want to work on making your entire yard a private paradise, take one corner and transform it into a secluded getaway. A simple way to do this is to carefully place a couple of trees to form a pocket. Here, for example, two pines make a hammock feel tucked away. A redbud just behind the hammock enhances the effect.
Look at Lattice
Do you feel a little claustrophobic at the thought of fencing your yard? Try lattice. It's an ideal way to add privacy and enclosure without closing off your yard too much. Plus a simple lattice fence is perfect for showcasing climbing roses or your favorite vines. You may find that lattice panels are less expensive than building a traditional fence so you can save money to boot.
Grow in Layers
Most people's main goal of creating a sheltered yard is to block views of neighbors. But make it an extra-secluded yard by layering plantings to form pockets where you can't see your house or another part of the yard. That way you can feel like you're getting away from it all without actually going anywhere.
Use a Hedge
Enjoy a wall of green by planting a hedge. Look for evergreen varieties to provide year-round screening or try types that lose their leaves in winter but make up for it by putting on a show with attractive flowers or a blaze of fall color.
Test Garden Tip: While many plants are suitable as hedges, yours will be a cinch to care for if you select a variety that's adapted to your climate and that matures at the height and width you want your hedge to be.
Look for Interesting Materials
Beautify privacy by adding an unexpected element to your yard. For example, build a fence from out-of-the-ordinary materials or decorate a fence with architectural detailing. The plexiglass used here stops the neighbors from peering in but allows light to pass through. It also shows off textures on the other side.
Mix It Up
There's no rule that says you have to stick with one strategy for creating privacy. So keep your landscape exciting by incorporating several types of screens. For example, this patio uses an attractive fence as well as a low hedge. A large tree casts shade and blocks the view of the patio from above.
Vines are like the Swiss Army Knife of the gardening world -- there are so many ways you can use them. Plant a climber to cover a fence, dress up a wall, over a pergola, or travel wires to create a screen in any direction.
Big, bold container gardens are ideal for creating privacy, especially if you have a small space such as a deck or patio. Plus you can find containers and plants to fit any landscape style. Here, large metal containers hold majestic palms for a modern look.
Hide Behind Structures
Let structures on your property create privacy for you. For example, tuck an outdoor living space beside your garage so the walls block views from neighbors. Or site a patio where it's shielded from view by your home.
Plant a Tree
A single tree can be an effective and inexpensive way to block a view. Here a golden locust (Robinia 'Frisia') plays double duty: It shields the yard and creates a stunning focal point.
Decorate a Fence
Let's be honest: Fences can look dull and cold. But they're easy to dress up with a border of easy-care annuals, perennials, or shrubs. And extra-tall perennials that rise above the fence provide additional screening.
Punctuate Your Yard
Many homeowners plant trees and shrubs only around the perimeter of the landscape. But by planting them throughout the yard you screen more effectively.
Test Garden Tip: Use columnar varieties if you have a small yard; they grow tall, but most columnar selections stay less than 10 feet wide.
Keep It Simple
There's no rule saying a fence has to run the length or perimeter of your yard. Put a panel or two just where you need it. It's a great way to save money.
Test Garden Tip: If a panel or two in your yard looks a little strange, dress it up with a coat of paint, window boxes, or an espaliered shrub or small tree.
Privacy extends beyond your sense of sight. Install a fountain, stream, or other water feature to muffle bothersome sounds. Or look for plants, such as quaking aspen and many types of ornamental grasses, that rustle in the breeze.