We get on really well with our nearest neighbors, but the couple the other side of them are really nosy and look right across their patio all the time. What can they do to make it more private?
You can make your patio or decking more private by building fences, planting hedges, using tall pot plants such as bamboo, installing lattice screens with climbing plants, or building a pergola. You can also buy ready-made patio privacy screens.
Let’s explore the subject of patio privacy in greater detail, and discover the quickest, easiest and cheapest ways of keeping out those prying eyes…
How Do I Make My Outdoor Patio or Deck More Private?
There are lots of ways to make your patio or deck more private. The obvious solutions are fences and hedges, which will create an effective visual barrier between your yard and your neighbors’.
However, it’s not always possible to erect a structural barrier between your yards. What else can you do to make your patio more private?
You can use tall pot plants (clumping bamboo is a favorite), or have lattice panels with climbing container plants. Portable screens can create temporary privacy, or if you have something to attach them to, try outdoor drapes.
Are you overlooked from above? A pergola with climbing plants or a fabric awning can keep your patio screened from second-story windows.
What about sound privacy? If you and your neighbors can hear each others’ conversations a bit too clearly, a water feature like a small fountain can introduce white noise, creating a kind of sound barrier that gives you a bit more audio privacy. It’s worth checking first: your neighbor may not like the sound of running or falling water.
What is the Cheapest Way to Enclose a Patio? (DIY Patio Privacy Ideas)
There are plenty of cheap ways to enclose your patio. Informal wooden fences made from pallets or whatever wood you have lying around can be a cheap and fashionably rustic solution.
You can buy willow screens on posts that can simply be hammered into the earth: a couple of these can easily create a screen for a small area.
Hedging can also be inexpensive; however, hedge plants are cheapest when they’re small, so this might not be a quick enough solution! You can create a temporary barrier while your hedge becomes established, using garden membrane stapled into fence posts.
If you’re lucky enough to have a pergola or a similar structure, hanging curtains can be cheaper than installing a fence. You can save money by using cheaper fabric and only hanging them when the weather’s good. Alternatively, cheap shower curtains can offer a cost-effective solution.
What do you already have that can plug any gaps and make your patio more private? Tall plants in containers are perfect, or if you’re growing something like tomatoes or beans, place the canes on the bit of the patio that needs a screen.
How Do You Make a Shared Patio Private?
If you share your patio space, creating a private zone can be a bit trickier, and you’ll need to discuss any solutions with your immediate neighbor(s). Container plants create a good barrier, although this can be more territorial than practical.
One of the easiest ways is to have one of those old-fashioned paneled screens, like bashful nineteenth-century couples use to dress behind.
You can pick up used ones pretty cheaply (they make great upcycling projects) or you can actually buy special outdoor ones. You can also get freestanding “privacy panels”, which come in very handy as a quick and portable screen.
When you need your patio to be private (friends round for a drink, or simply wanting to sit down with a coffee and a book), just bring out the screen or panel and create your own little world.
How Can I Make My Open Porch Private?
If your patio faces the street or other homes, it can feel a bit exposed. Installing a fence along the front of an open porch gives you a bit more privacy. Just make sure it’s not too solid or too high, or you’ll be spoiling your own view and light.
Do you have any garden space in front of the patio? You can grow some hedging plants, which will also give you a pleasant, verdant outlook from your favorite patio chair.
Some sort of structure like a pergola is useful here, as you can attach a set of curtains, pulling them across when you need the patio to be private.
How Do I Block Out My Neighbors View? (Townhouse Patio Privacy Ideas)
This is a tricky balance: you want to block out your neighbors’ view of your patio or deck, without spoiling the look of the place for you or them.
For long-term solutions, growing plants up lattice panels or planting a hedge are attractive ways to create a visual barrier. Tall plants in pots are a good alternative to this if you want a natural look but don’t have a flower bed for planting. Try photinia or bamboo in containers.
Of course, if being overlooked is creating problems, we’re talking fencing and walls. Speak with your local planning authority and if you have one, your HOA to check what the rules and regulations are.
Are the neighbors looking down from above? A pergola or an awning is a good idea, and this also creates a nice shady spot for you. In the summer, a patio umbrella (especially a large one) can prevent you from being looked down upon from above.
How Do You Make a Freestanding Homemade Privacy Screen?
You can easily make a freestanding portable privacy screen by setting the posts into planters or buckets filled with concrete. Now this may not sound like the most attractive solution; however a galvanized steel basket or a brightly painted planter can be really attractive in its own right.
Corrugated panels between wooden posts give you an on-trend industrial look. This simple portable screen is made with Turfex panels between wooden posts, sunk into buckets. Here’s how this simple portable privacy screen was put together.
Or, keep it rustic with a woven willow fence. You can buy the latter ready-made, and simply sink them into the buckets to make them portable rather than fixing them into the soil or cementing them into the patio.
How Do You Install a Wood Lattice Privacy Screen?
A lattice privacy screen is an attractive way to create a visual barrier while still keeping an open feel. It;s also a lovely way to introduce more plants to your patio!
This short film shows you how to make a privacy fence using lattice panels. You’ll need some DIY woodworking skills for this one, as you need to start by making a frame for the weaker lattice panels, and attaching it to strong poles, which are cemented into the ground.
You can then either grow climbers up the panels or attach pots onto the lattice to create a “living wall” effect.
How Do I Block My Apartment Patio?
Apartment patios aren’t always private, but there are plenty of things you can do to create a more discreet space. Depending on the regulations in your block, you may be able to install a divider, such as a wooden fence or an etched glass panel.
If any blocking has to be temporary, we’re back to tall container plants, lattice panels with leafy plants growing up them, portable fencing made up from things like bamboo canes or sailcloth, or privacy panels that you can move around.
How Do I Make a Small Porch Private?
It’s super-easy to make a small porch private. You can create a really enclosed space with just a handful of fence panels or a few well-placed tall plants. If you just want a temporary screen, invest in a couple of privacy panels.
Because it’s a smaller area, it’s easier to invest in proper outdoor curtains such as sailcloth ones, which can bring a splash of color as well as shade and privacy.
How Do I Create Privacy in My Backyard Without a Fence?
There are so many ways to create a private space without a fence. Here are some of our favorites:
- Architectural plants or dwarfing trees in containers
- Screens made from bamboo canes
- Sailcloth screens
- Outdoor curtains or awnings
- Victorian-style panel screens and privacy panels
- Patio umbrellas – look out for the kind you can angle easily
- Handy vegetables that grow up canes, like beans, peas, and tomatoes
- If you have the time, an evergreen hedge
What Plants Are Good for Privacy?
The best privacy plants are evergreen, which is why trees like leylandii are universally popular as barriers. Favorite hedging plants include boxwood and photinia, which both create attractive hedges. The latter has beautiful reddish leaves for a slightly more unusual look.
One of the absolute best screens however is bamboo. Make sure you choose clumping, or it will spread everywhere. You’ll get a lovely, living fence pretty quickly, that stays green all year and makes a wonderful rustling sound in the breeze.
You can also introduce some wonderful scents to your patio, by planting climbers like jasmine or honeysuckle up trellis panels. Even when the plants die back, the trellis will still give you some privacy. You can always add some fake ivy to it in the winter!
It turns out there is a wide variety of ways to discourage the prying eyes of your neighbors, both from the sides and above.
Some of these solutions certainly cost more than others – such as building a whole pergola – but many of the ideas involving wooden trellises and different types of plants are not too pricey.
The ready-made privacy screens also look like a very quick and easy solution that won’t break the bank.
Right, I’m off to take my findings next door to help my nice neighbors screen out their nosy neighbors! 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry Jones founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >