10 garden screening ideas – easy ways to improve privacy in your garden

Use garden screening ideas to create your perfect outdoor plot, shaded from overlooking neighbours, with our expert advice

Garden screening ideas: town garden in Stockwell by My Landscapes
(Image credit: My Landscapes)

Garden screening ideas will make your garden private, whether from overlooking neighbours or from other parts of the garden. Garden screening can also become a stylish part of your garden design and, with careful consideration of material, will blend in seamlessly with the rest of your garden scheme. From all-natural plant screens to solid metal structures, we have garden screening ideas to suit different needs and tastes.

Find more garden ideas on our dedicated page. 

1. Focus on the garden's boundaries

garden patio

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/ cocofeatures.com)

Before you begin a garden makeover, assess where you really need privacy and consider both temporary and permanent options to suit your needs and garden’s orientation. A mix of deciduous trees with strategically placed evergreens on a boundary area can offer a more balanced privacy solution giving dappled light screening for the most used months of the year and year-round screening in a specific problem area.

town garden in Stockwell by My Landscapes

(Image credit: My Landscapes)

Depending on your size of garden, soil conditions and light levels, 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. 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.

In terms of cost, this depends very much on type and size of tree you want to put in place. There are many nurseries where you can buy larger-sized deciduous trees to mix with a semi mature evergreen specimen such as Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaradg’ or Taxus bacatta fastigiata (columnar yew). Many nurseries will deliver and plant trees and hedging for you.

Our tip:

Building regulations state that a garden boundary, fence, wall or thick hedge should not exceed 2m in height.

2. Screen a secluded seating zone

Roses around an arch near a seating area

(Image credit: Photograph Leigh Clapp)

Consider screening off areas within the garden using hedging, shrubs or hard landscaping as opposed to blocking your whole boundary. This can be useful for areas where you’d like a more permanent privacy solution for a specific area where you might dine or sit for longer periods.

You may be able to create a special 'garden room' area using hedging or shrubs within the interior of your garden. Depending on your choice of hedging plant, height and size you plant at, prices can start from a few pounds per metre to a hundred pounds per metre.

Garden screen ideas

(Image credit: B&Q)

You can also create a garden room using vertical wood, stone, metal products or even composite (as in the example above from B&Q), which create barriers allowing some visibility but give more screening. Often this solution can be very expensive per linear metre as it’s usually a bespoke solution to supply and construct, involving both a garden designer and landscaper.

B&Q parasol

(Image credit: B&Q)

For a temporary solution, a cantilever umbrella (we have the best parasols) or a shade sail can provide temporary, flexible privacy during the warmer months when the garden is used more often. Shade sails need a solid structure to fix onto but can be put up and taken down and start from as little as £10 to buy up to a few hundred pounds for more durable products. You will need to be able to clip the corners of your sails to either free standing posts and/or a solid structure such as your house.

3. Extend the height of your boundary 

Pleached trees – trees trained on a rectangular frame on clear stems – can be a great way of extending the height of your boundary. There are various sizes of pleached trees depending on the variety of tree 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 go for this option.

a hydroponic system panel for growing plants vertically

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

Another option is to grow a living wall or to extend the height of boundaries with a cleverly planted vertical garden. Living walls and vertical gardens don't just give you more privacy – they give you the chance to beautify walls and offer more space for display and production.

On a budget or don't want the hassle of installing new structures? You could increase your garden's privacy substantially with a fence or trellis and climbing plants. Choose vigorous climbing species such as honeysuckle, jasmine, and clematis, and could have a luscious green wall by next summer! The beautiful scent these plants will bring to your garden are a bonus. 

Find out how to design a living wall or vertical garden in our guide.

4. Extend your view with see-through garden screening

Cuprinol garden decking ideas

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

An easy way to create screening that isn't a solid fence is to put up a see-through screen, such as a slatted panel, which shows off the view beyond your garden or patio. Why do this? If your garden is small and the view beyond is quite green, it gives you what's called a 'borrowed view' – a classic garden design trick to make your space feel bigger.

5. Use screening materials to hide ugly boundaries

Garden screening ideas

(Image credit: Ikea)

Now this is a clever idea. If the screening you've already got is an ugly wall or fence and you need a quick, green fix, particularly in a space that doesn't get much sunlight, or that has a solid surface with little room for large pots, artificial plant panels are the way to go. Better still, you can weave real plants through them as climbers in narrow pots to create a more natural look. Fejka artificial panels, 26cm x 26cm, £3 each, Ikea. 

6. Install a water feature to create background noise

The Health & Wellbeing Garden by Alexandra Noble Design at Hampton Court 2018

(Image credit: Karen Darlow)

To further increase privacy in your garden, consider installing a 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. 

7. Add a pergola or arbour

Maxine Brady transformed her small garden into a Moroccan-inspired haven

(Image credit: Fiona Walker-Arnott)

A pergola or arbour may well provide enough privacy in a smaller garden. Even better, if you enjoy DIY, you can build a pergola yourself. Alternatively, invest in an arbour for a fuss-free, instant secluded nook. 

Rowlinson Arbour

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

8. Make garden screening the focus

Garden screening idea

(Image credit: Primrose)

Love, love, love this garden screening idea. It does the job of screening, creates beautiful colour and texture and makes a great backdrop to show off your planting. Other finishes are available but we think this rusty look is tops. Drift Decorative Screening Fence Panel In Corten Steel, around £373, Primrose.

9. Go for natural bamboo screen for a rustic garden screening look

Bamboo slat fence by Thompson & Morgan

(Image credit: Thompson & Morgan)

Like the natural and slightly boho look of bamboo? Bamboo makes for excellent garden screening and is the easiest way to cheer up a severe-looking garden wall. The slatted bamboo fencing from Thompson & Morgan has the benefit of being quite dense, so you will get proper protection with it. Measures two metres tall and four metres wide.

10. Use trees as natural screening in a front garden

Front garden by Arno Senoner

(Image credit: Unsplash/Arno Senoner)

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. 

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