As a homeowner, spending time in your backyard with friends and family is something you look forward to, especially in warm spring and summer months. Whether you want to plan a family cookout or kick back in your favorite lounge chair, creating a backyard landscape design with adequate privacy and a comfortable atmosphere can have a big impact on the enjoyment of your outdoor activities.
Outdoor living spaces are popular features for most homeowners, but rising real estate prices have made houses with large yards less affordable for some. As the demand for outdoor spaces grows and large houses occupy small lots, backyard privacy is at a premium. Take a look at landscape design ideas that will create maximum privacy and enjoyment in your backyard.
Solid Privacy Fences
Building a fence is a common solution for privacy in a backyard landscape design. A six-foot fence quickly provides a visual buffer between properties. It provides maximum privacy and noise reduction with a smaller footprint than shrubs and plants. A fence is a good solution in a side yard where privacy is essential, but space is limited. Although a fence can be built from various materials, a solid board fence in wood or vinyl composite will provide the best privacy for your backyard. To soften the structure, you can add an open lattice or baluster top to the fence and a variety of plants and flowers at ground level.
Semi-transparent fences may not provide as much noise reduction as solid privacy fences, but they add a lot of visual interest to your landscape and allow natural light and breezes into the yard. They create a comforting sense of containment and a buffer between your backyard and your neighbor’s yard. If you choose to install a semi-transparent chain link or open weave fence, you can create more privacy by adding climbing vines or trailing plants to the fence or along the fence line. Within a few years, you will have a solid wall of greenery that hides the fence completely, but you will have to keep it properly trimmed to prevent unsightly overgrowth.
A stone wall will add maximum privacy and unique visual appeal to any style home. With a variety of materials to choose from including granite, marble, limestone, slate, stacked stone and flagstone, it’s easy to build a stone wall that complements the materials on your house, as well as your backyard landscape design. Your stone wall cost will be higher compared to building a fence, but it will last a lifetime with minimal landscape maintenance. To reduce material and labor costs, construct a shorter stone wall, about four feet in height, then add a two-foot wooden lattice or fence to the top. A lighter material on top will soften the hard edges of the stone and give the wall unique style. If your home’s exterior is wood or siding, a lattice or wooden top will tie the two structures together.
If you have a small backyard, a tall, solid fence or stone wall may feel too confining for your outdoor space. Defined areas like small patios and terraces, decks and outdoor kitchen areas can be easily screened with open panels, trellises and arbors. By building an enclosure around your outdoor spaces, you can create privacy for outdoor activities and entertain without creating perimeter boundaries around your property. Open panels, trellises and arbors allow you to create maximum privacy with climbing vines, hanging baskets and colorful flowers. Garden structures provide an appealing, affordable option for backyard privacy in small spaces.
If you dare to be different and appreciate the beauty of art, you can design a unique mural wall that will provide privacy and a stunning focal point in your backyard. A mural wall can be as creative as you are. It can be built in concrete, wood or metal and covered with beautiful artwork, colorful ceramic tiles or pieces of interesting rocks and stones. It can reflect a sleek contemporary feel to enhance modern architecture or a comfortable, nostalgic feel to enhance traditional or rustic architecture. A mural wall is a unique way to add privacy, style and atmosphere to your backyard landscape design.
Although you may not be able to see your neighbors, you may be close enough to hear them when you’re in your backyard. If you’re in a neighborhood where houses are built on smaller lots and close together, you may even hear intrusive noises like barking dogs, buzzing air conditioner compressors, televisions, stereos and conversations. By adding an outdoor fountain to your backyard landscape design, you can mask unwanted noises and replace them with the soothing sounds of nature. Depending on the size of your yard and your budget, you can build a custom outdoor fountain or purchase a pre-made model. When choosing a fountain, note that the further water falls, the louder it becomes, so choose a fountain size and style that provides the right amount of noise reduction and privacy with a soothing level of sound.
Whether you have a structural fence or not, a green screen or living wall of plants is a great way to create a natural barrier between your backyard and your neighbor’s backyard. It can create a visual break, establish property boundaries, provide a buffer for noise and wind, hide unappealing views, soften the edges of hardscape walls and fences and create a sense of intimacy and privacy.
Planting deciduous shade trees is a good way to obscure a neighbor’s view from a second-story window or terrace. Typically, they grow from 25-feet to 60-feet high, depending on the species. When planted near a property line or in the backyard, their large canopies provide privacy, as well as good shade in hot summer months. Deciduous plants usually lose their foliage in late fall and winter, so during these months, the trees’ bare branches allow the sun to shine brightly into the house for added light and warmth. Evergreen plants will act as a buffer and barrier and provide maximum privacy for your backyard landscape design year-round.
Shrubs and Hedges
Shrubs and hedges provide excellent privacy for backyard settings, whether the yard is large or small. Where space is tight, for side yard areas, for example, fast-growing columnar evergreens like Italian cypress and arborvitae can provide a simple solution for separating adjoining yards or blocking sight lines out of windows where privacy is essential. Unlike fences and walls, shrubs and hedges can provide a year-round privacy screen and they’re not typically restricted by city ordinances that limit their height. If you plant a privet hedge, it’s best to plant individual shrubs at least 12 inches apart and bring soil up to the branching trunk. For the first year, hedges will require proper irrigation to survive. To thrive year-round, shrubs and hedges should be properly trimmed as needed to prevent overgrowth and dead growth.
In larger yards, planting a mixture of deciduous trees, as well as shrubs, evergreens and perennials create a natural look for your backyard landscape design. Stagger evergreens in the background and in the foreground, step down the height with deciduous plants and perennials that provide different heights, textures and colors. Layering your planted areas creates better depth and visual impact in the yard. It also allows you to replace seasonal, smaller plants when they die with a variety of new seasonal plants in different colors, shapes, sizes and textures. This creates an easy way to change your privacy requirements throughout the year.
Raised planters and container gardens will add height while creating good volume, proportion and privacy in your backyard. You can design a series of container gardens that define your property boundaries and establish a visual buffer between you and your neighbors. If you prefer a formal, symmetrical look, each container can be filled with identical plants. If you like a more casual, asymmetrical look, fill the containers with a variety of plants that offer different sizes, shapes, textures and colors. For easy, year-round maintenance, plant native, low-maintenance plants, shrubs and ornamental grasses like blue fescue, dwarf arborvitae or fragrant lavender and rosemary.
Vertical gardens are popular ways to create maximum privacy in urban areas where homeowners have small plots of land or no land at all. However, they can also be used in spacious backyards. They can be grown easily on wooden trellises, open panels or metal grids that have structured support systems. Vertical gardens can support climbing vines, annuals and perennials and herbs and vegetables. Whatever the style of your home, you can design a vertical garden that enhances that style, as well as your backyard landscape features. A vertical garden will add height and depth to your yard while creating the privacy you need to enjoy the outdoors.
When you’re trying to maximize privacy in your backyard, it’s best to invest in larger plants for your backyard landscape design. You may be tempted to buy plants in gallon containers that are on sale in a local nursery, but you will be waiting a long time for those small plants to provide any privacy for your backyard. It’s better to buy fewer plants, but larger plants that will have an immediate impact on your outdoor privacy needs. For quicker results, choose plants that are four-feet or five-feet tall, but pay close attention to growth patterns and care and maintenance requirements.
Movable screens provide an easy, affordable solution for privacy around patios, decks, porches, outdoor kitchen areas and pavilions. Screens can be designed and built in a variety of materials, patterns and colors to enhance any type of backyard setting. Solid screens will provide maximum privacy, as well as protection from sun, rain, wind and noise. Open screens will provide light and ventilation for overcast and hot days.
If you plan to entertain year-round, it’s important to create a backyard landscape design that offers privacy and protection from the elements. You can create both by installing outdoor curtains or draperies that can be opened and closed as needed. With a strong interest by today’s homeowners in outdoor living spaces, it’s easy to find outdoor draperies in a variety of beautiful colors, textures and patterns for every lifestyle. Fabrics are specially treated to resist stains, fading and water, so they’re the perfect solution for outdoor areas where you want to create privacy.
Whatever the size of your backyard, you can maximize privacy to enjoy the outdoors. By blocking the eyes of peering neighbors and the sounds of intrusive noises, you can spend time in a backyard that’s comfortable and peaceful year-round.