These garden privacy ideas will inspire you to create a more secluded and cosy outdoor space. While adding fencing and screening are the most traditional and easiest ways to add some privacy to an exposed garden, they're not the only ones.
There are loads of garden ideas for more privacy that go beyond screens. If you already have a screen or fence, or just want to try a more natural garden design scheme, why not experiment with tall-growing plants, living walls, and clever garden furniture configurations?
Whether you just need to block off a corner of a garden deck, or if your whole garden is exposed and needs sheltering from neighbouring gardens, these garden privacy ideas will soften and enhance the look of your outdoor space without blocking off natural light, disrupting your planting or, offending the neighbours...
1. Work with your garden's boundaries
Working with your garden's natural boundaries is one of the first things to consider when looking for more privacy in your space. Depending on your garden's size, soil conditions and light levels, you could plant deciduous trees with light airy foliage such as Betula, Amelanchier, Cornus, Malus, Prunus, Acer and Sorbus.
This can provide gentle screening on a boundary area yet still let some sunlight through. And at this stage if you already know you want or need to add a boundary wall, you can start getting that project underway.
Top tip: Building regulations in the UK state that a garden boundary, fence, wall or thick hedge should not exceed two metres in height. You may also need to check boundary laws in your area elsewhere.
2. Try oversized potted plants
A container garden can go a long way to creating privacy in your garden, but you will need to invest into oversized pots or planters and plant up some tall-growing plant species.
The Canto planters by Lechuza have a clean, contemporary look that goes especially well with contemporary gardens. For an instant privacy-enhancing effect, plant them with fast-growing bamboo. Some varieties grow so fast that you will have a natural screen by the end of the first summer.
3. Be clever with your garden furniture choices
The best garden furniture will not only make your outdoor space more comfortable for dining and relaxing but will also enhance your garden's privacy. Charlie Alexander, the founder of luxury furniture brand, Oxenwood, explains that 'one of the key ways to transform your garden into a true oasis is by using quality outdoor furniture to create partitions or “rooms''. Garden furniture goes far beyond a practical level of simply providing somewhere to sit. It can also be a statement piece and an eye-catching design feature, but it also provides a partition to create a place to escape.'
Alexander also recommends carefully considering your garden furniture positioning: 'when finding the perfect spot for your furniture, consider how you can make the space private. Firstly, choose somewhere that isn’t overlooked and is ideally set away from the house so it feels like a place to escape to.'
4. Balance evergreens and deciduous options
If you actually love the idea of full on privacy (and trees!) then choose a mix of deciduous trees with strategically placed evergreens for a more balanced privacy solution that will give you gorgeous dappled light also.
Alternatively, a canopy of deciduous trees can often provide a sense of privacy quickly. Bamboo (see above) is a fantastic instant screen, too. It grows quickly and is green all year around.
5. Work with a sloping garden
If your garden is sloped but overlooked, you can use this in your favor. A retaining wall may be enough in itself, but add more greenery to that first level for heaps more interest, height, and, therefore, privacy.
Bonnet says: 'Evergreen shrubs are good to achieve a reliable height and plentiful foliage for privacy all year round. But for a more colorful and bright look, add a few large plants such as hardy palms or phormiums – they are forgiving when they haven’t been watered, too.'
Add some tree ferns for additional screening – they look wonderful in tiered and sunken gardens. This screening option is an effective sloping garden idea that will work year-round.
6. Layer container plants
A collection of containers of different heights and sizes can be the perfect tool for more garden privacy. Choose pots of different sizes and plants of varying maturity – this will give you both height and density to play with. Japanese maples are especially effective for garden screening, with their bushy, dense canopies. And they do very well in containers.
7. Use a canopy or shade for overhead protection
For a little cover over a decking area where you tend to wine and dine, a fabric canopy can be a lovely and organic-looking choice. Deck shade ideas come in a variety of materials and styles, but a mobile fabric shade or sail is best because you can tilt it as the sun moves and position it where you need the most privacy.
8. DIY a privacy screen
Building your own privacy screen is a great way to use up leftover wood or even old doors.
Bonnet says: 'Privacy screens are the ultimate easy garden DIY project to achieve a concealed area. Apart from nails and a hammer, the quirky yet functional partition can be made solely out of old doors or wooden pallets. To brighten up a dull garden, give the screen a lick of bright paint.'
Otherwise, you can buy one of the cute balcony apartment privacy screens in our guide.
9. Carefully consider the positioning of outbuildings
Whether you're intrigued as to how to build a garden room from scratch or looking to add another type of outbuilding to your backyard, think about its positioning to help the flow of your space as a whole but also to block out any spots you want to keep totally private.
10. Choose low seating in a built up courtyard
If you need privacy from up above where you are in an enclosed space, such as a garden patio, choosing low seating is not only cozy but also a simple way to feel more comfortable from onlookers.
Deter attention further and up the decorative factor by stringing garden lighting and other accessories across the opening to stylishly obstruct the view from the outside.
11. Choose climbers instead of traditional hedging
We're a bit over traditional hedging, which can look too solid and a bit severe. Consider screening off areas within the garden using shrubs or climbing plants as opposed to blocking your whole boundary.
Perfect for areas where you’d like a more permanent privacy solution, climbers such as ivy, jasmine, clematis, and roses offer maximum screening power without creating an overly boxed-in look.
12. Get a contemporary divider
You can also create a little more privacy using a dedicated outdoor space divider. These are great for contemporary spaces and they create barriers but are light and still allow for some visibility. Perfect if you have an outdoor kitchen or cocktail space.
13. Set up that outdoor cinema you've been dreaming of
Invest in an outdoor projector and put up the big screen in your garden for a cinematic experience that will not only look good but also feel super-exclusive.
Hang your screen in a spot where you want to block sightlines out, grab your favorite outdoor rug, lots of cushions, all the popcorn you can eat – and voila, you have the perfect setup that is only yours to enjoy.
14. Be bold with a parasol
For a temporary solution, a cantilever umbrella or another of the best parasols about can provide flexible privacy. Easy to install, one of the cheaper garden screening ideas going, and stylish if you look in the right places, a parasol will make a classy addition to your patio.
15. Plant fast-growing annuals in your borders
Want an inexpensive, DIY solution to an exposed garden quickly? There's an easy answer – fast-growing annual flowers. Consider easy-to-grow flowers such as zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers to plug in any gaps in your garden borders. By late June-early July you will have a gorgeous display that will enhance your garden's privacy.
Top tip: Brighter flowers will give you more of a private feel because they'll draw your attention away from anything you may still be able to see on the other side of your garden border.
16. Or plant tall bi-annuals in exposed corners
If you have a bit more patience and can wait a year, cottage garden plants such as foxgloves, hollyhocks, and lupins will grow over two metres tall – but they are biannuals and won't bloom in the first year.
Foxgloves and other tall-growing flowers are especially useful for blocking out views out of corners. Consider planting them next to your garden fence for creating a more secluded effect.
17. Greenify a garden trellis
On a budget or don't want the hassle of installing new structures? You could increase your garden's privacy substantially with trellis ideas.
Remember also that your garden screening doesn't have to be solid, but just a distraction to onlooker eyes and enough to make you feel comfortable and secure in your surroundings. So, a trellis enhanced with climbers is ideal.
Choose vigorous climbing species such as honeysuckle, jasmine, and clematis, and you could have a luscious green wall by next summer! The beautiful scent these plants will bring to your garden is a bonus.
18. Or, max out on height with living walls
Growing a living wall isn't just a great garden screen idea, but it will also give you the chance to beautify any ugly-looking walls. The more expensive option would be pleached trees – trees trained on a rectangular frame on clear stems – that look great when extending the height of your boundary.
There are various sizes of pleached trees depending on the variety of trees you want, but often per linear metre this can run into hundreds of pounds even before the costs of planting, so be prepared to spend a bit more if you choose this option.
19. Prune tall trees for more light
Remember that if you're going for trees as your garden screening option, you'll need to keep them from growing bigger than they need to be.
Prune your trees regularly to prevent them from blocking your light. The aim is to create an open shape and to avoid stimulating lots of unruly growth which will happen if you cut across a branch, for example. So keep trees as low as they can be to still hit that sightline, and prune the rest for best effect.
Learning how to prune apple trees like a pro is easy and can be mastered even by a beginner.
20. Install a water feature to create background noise
To further increase privacy in your garden, consider a garden water feature.
Although a fountain or water bowl won't make a difference to the visual privacy of your garden, it will create an ambient noise that will help make conversations feel more private.
21. Add a pergola
A pergola may well provide enough privacy in a smaller garden. Even better, if you enjoy DIY, you can build a pergola yourself. Add some hanging baskets full of petunias, ivy, and lobelias to create even more privacy.
22. Or, an arbour
Alternatively, invest in an arbour for a fuss-free, instant secluded nook where you can while away warm days feeling totally at ease. An arbor is just an enclosed bench or seat, usually made from wood. Some options can be combined with climbing plants for a two-in-one screening solution.
23. Maximize on bamboo
Bamboo is easily the best plant to grow if you want to enhance your garden's privacy. It's beautiful, most varieties are evergreen, and it grows tall very fast. Many varieties will grow up to 10 metres tall if you let them, and you can achieve this natural tall screen in a matter of a couple of years. The only thing bamboo needs to thrive is plenty of water, so don't forget to water it during periods of drought.
Just be mindful of it's invasive nature. You may want to contain it in troughs or planters to stop it overtaking your garden.
24. Add curtains to an outdoor room
For the perfect outdoor living area where you want privacy from all angles, adding billowing curtains to a covered spot will not only look gorgeous and very chic but it will also mean that when you want more privacy.
Be that from neighbours or the kids, you can hide away easily.
25. Don't forget your front garden
Want a completely natural scheme that creates privacy without the use of screening materials as such? Pick your plants wisely. Especially in front gardens, bushy trees with dense foliage, such as acacia, yew, and junipers can easily provide enough screening to not need anything else.
You can also use bamboo, but bear in mind that some varieties can grow very tall very quickly, so you'll need to keep it under control by regular trimming.
26. Plug gaps in fencing with blooming shrubs
If you've installed a low fence and are finding that it's not doing much for your garden privacy, you can easily enhance what you've got with dense, blooming shrubs. Hydrangeas are perfect for this – their blooms are so abundant and large throughout the summer and autumn that you likely won't need anything else. Or try lilacs.
27. Consider a potting shelter
It's not quite a garden shed, and it's not quite a garden wall, but something between the two, providing you with garden storage and a dedicated space for potting plants. To say nothing of doubling up as a garden screen. We adore this Potting Shelter by Redwood Stone – you could try building something similar yourself if you've worked with brick before.
28. Don't be afraid of an overgrown garden
Sometimes the best strategy is to just let nature do its thing. Let your plants grow more naturally, resisting the urge to prune everything. You will be rewarded with a luscious, secluded garden where you may not need any manmade screening at all.
29. Use tables and plant stands to add height
The most common problem gardeners have with natural screening is that it's uneven, with visible gaps at awkward heights. This is especially common if all your plants are around the same age, which will mean that you're lacking density in the middle of your natural screening scheme. If this is the case – plant stands and garden tables to the rescue! Use garden furniture to adjust the height and balance out the look of your living screen.
30. Create a secluded spot with a garden pond
A garden pond can go a long way to enhancing your garden's privacy. Garden ponds typically include pond plants such as bullrushes and grasses that can add height and help create a secluded spot wherever you most need it. If you need to add even more height, consider building a raised garden pond in a wooden barrel or a metal container.
What are the best ways to add garden privacy on a budget?
Choosing simple ways to increase privacy outdoors like planting and DIY can make this job really budget-friendly and nonetheless effective. The experts at Gardening Express say that aside from DIY solutions, 'another alternative is wire garden fencing, as it is quick to install and unbelievably cheap. Growing climbing plants like a colourful clematis or ivy up the wire will create a private space and a great place to nature spot.'
So it can be done. Always start by assessing where you really need privacy and consider both temporary and permanent options to suit your needs and garden’s orientation. This will make it a lot easier to find a happy medium.
And remember that unless you want to zone off your entire garden – for which you will need to check what's allowed beforehand – you will be able to get more privacy in other less dramatic and very clever ways.
How can I improve garden pirvacy in a shared garden?
Shared gardens are often overlooked from above as well as from the sides, so if you have neighbours living above you, you may need to invest in a covering or awning in order to keep your portion of the shared outdoor space private. Head of Product at Thomas Sanderson, Lisa Cooper, recommends awnings for adding privacy 'if your garden is overlooked without compromising natural light.'