The most obvious -- and fastest -- way of creating privacy is to put up a fence.
Fences help keep your neighbors from seeing into your yard. They also provide a sense of enclosure and safety, making them a perfect option if you have children: Fences keep kids in and strangers -- or animals, such as dogs -- out.
If you choose to build a fence to add privacy to your landscape, select a material and style that complements your home.
Here's a hint: If you want to create a private space in your yard, look around before you build a fence. You might be able to use existing structures to create privacy. For example, tuck a small patio or deck next to your garage or home. Screening just one or two sides may be all you need.
If a fence is too stark, grow a hedge. There are shrub varieties perfect for using as hedges for every region.
For a natural look, mix it up a little and combine a variety of shrubs. Don't be afraid to mix in a small tree or two for extra height, color, and texture. By planting species with different sizes, shapes, and colors, you can layer the plants into a beautiful mosaic.
For a more formal look, prune or shear shrubs regularly. Note: The best time to prune your hedge depends on what type of shrub you're growing.
Here's a hint: If you shear your shrubs, keep them looking good for years by ensuring the bottom of the shrub is wider than the top.
Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), Zones 6-8
Columnar juniper (Juniperus scopulorum'Skyrocket'), Zones 4-7
Columnar white pine (Pinus strobus'Fastigiata'), Zones 3-9
English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), Zones 6-9
Pittosporum tobira, Zones 9-10
Privet (Ligustrum vulgare), Zones 5-8
Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), Zones 8-10
Yew (Taxus x media), Zones 5-7
Berms are basically miniature hills in the landscape. They add height to plantings, which can be an effective way to create privacy. A berm is also good for highlighting smaller plants, as it can bring them to eye level.
Plant trees and shrubs on berms to form a useful physical and sound curtain between the street and yard. Include rocks and stones to give the mound stability.
Here's a hint: If you make a berm, a ratio of one foot of height to every four feet of width is usually suitable to keep mulch from running down the slope.
While a pergola probably won't block out your entire yard, it's a great solution for adding privacy to a smaller space.
A vine-covered pergola creates a private, shady nook underneath -- perfect for a secluded bench or patio. A pergola also adds year-round structure to the landscape.
You can create different levels of privacy with pergolas, too. A simple vine-covered pergola provides a little privacy; running lattice panels between the pergola columns will add even more. Hanging sheets of outdoor-friendly fabric to act as curtains will give you even more seclusion.
Tidy vines will give the lattice panels extra interest -- and help them feel integrated into the landscape.
Be sure you have the right vine for the right spot. Big vines can easily crush a lattice panel, arbor, or even small pergola as they grow.
Small vines, on the other hand, may not grow large enough to adequately cover a large arbor or pergola.
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata), Zone 10, but usually grown as an annual
Cardinal vine (Ipomoea x multifida), annual
Clematis, Zones 3-10, depending on type
Hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus), Zone 10, but usually grown as an annual
Morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor), annual
American bittersweet Celastrus scandens), Zones 3-8
Chocolate vine (Akebia quinata), Zones 5-9
Climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris), Zones 4-9
Hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta), Zones 3-8
Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), Zones 4-9
Wisteria, Zones 5-9