Living in modern Mississauga subdivision can feel a bit like living in a fishbowl. This is doubly true if you’re in a new home with neighbours sharing a yard on every side. And while it’s nice to wave to John while you’re outside at the BBQ, sometimes it’d also be nice for John not to know the details of your dinner every night!
Urban sprawl continues unabated, and many of us live in very close quarters with our neighbours. What’s that old quote? “Good fences make good neighbours”? So said Robert Frost in his poem Mending Wall. Well, it’s true.
Creating spaces in your backyard to maintain a level of privacy is a great way to enhance the space and make it feel more friendly and inviting. Here are 10 ways to create some backyard privacy:
1. The Obvious Choice: A Fence
A standard wood fence is a good option, particularly if the point of the fence isn’t just privacy. If you need to keep your pets and kids safe from traffic, a solid wood fence is just the ticket.
A fence need not be aesthetically unpleasing either! If your neighbours will agree, you can you can trim it with lattice across the top, or at end points, where you can add some creeping vine or other greenery that will travel along and fill in the gaps a little.
If you’re not using fencing to keep people in the yard, you don’t have to cover the full length and breadth of your yard. Instead, use panels of fencing judiciously and in places where it will provide the maximum privacy. Surround it by bushes and grasses to break it up and make it look more natural.
This is a great option if you’ve sitting on a larger track of land (lucky you!)
2. A Natural Fence Made Of Hedges
Privet and other evergreens like cedar are a great option to have year round coverage in your backyard. Running them along property lines makes a clear divider without being harsh on the eye, from a landscaping point of view.
The advantage to well planted privet is that it provides excellent coverage with a minimum of fuss and bother. You have to watch that you don’t end up with too much weed and other plants popping up under or through the hedges, but on the whole, they are hardy and useful. The downside is that unless you plant it full grown, it will take a few years before your new hedge is doing its job.
3. Trellises And Pergolas
Placing a pergola over your patio area, or a trellis in the right spot, doesn’t destroy the sightlines of your garden but can shield you from the prying eyes of the two-story house right next door. You can enjoy the breeze and sunlight while still maintaining privacy.
Adding climbing flowers or vines give a more natural feel, blending the addition into the garden more subtly.
You can also do like the Europeans and grow grape vines over the pergola. When the grapes begin to grow they hang down and the look is enchanting. Ditto for wisteria, although grapes last longer. Just be aware that, if you plant purple grapes, they will stain the deck below.
4. Put Up A Gazebo
A gazebo has a lot of advantages. It provides shade and some privacy and if you get one that actually has window netting and a door, it will be a perfect reprieve from mosquitoes in the summer!
Eating outside isn’t always pleasant, thanks to bees, mosquitoes and other flying creatures, but a gazebo can create a space that will allow you to enjoy your picnics in peace.
Why not trim one side of the gazebo with lattice to provide more privacy? Or line the entire gazebo with bug mesh, so that when Rolf comes to visit your eldest daughter in a rainstorm, they can dance and sing around the gazebo without bug bites.
5. Vertical Gardening
This is a popular idea, particularly in smaller gardens where raised vegetable beds and other planting areas are more difficult to add, and it’s a useful solution for those who love to garden, but find themselves with an urban backyard the size of a postage stamp.
Build hanging planters on a wall of rods, which you then fill with vegetables, herbs and flowers. You’ve got an instant privacy wall and more space in the garden for a patio. Win-win!
6. Multi Level Gardens
By using raised beds at different levels, you can plant taller bushes, grasses and trees at the highest levels and use retaining walls to make a natural divider. By placing these strategically behind a terrace or seating area, your privacy is ensured.
Just make sure that you consult an experience hard-scaper before doing this yourself, so that you don’t upset the elevation and disrupt run-off patterns.
7. Outdoor Curtains
Who doesn’t love this trend? Each year we see more and more front-yard patios curtained off on the sides, and it’s beautiful.
We suggest that you take the trend into the backyard too.
Whether you have a pergola or a back deck, outdoor curtains are a great way to keep the breezes flowing and prying eyes out.
Even better if they’re hung on moveable frames, so you can place them where you want them and perhaps out of the path of a strong wind. White curtains always look best and provided they are machine washable, should look great throughout the warm season.
8. Potted Gardens Around The Patio
Particularly for a large yard, it’s sometimes easier to create a space within the space and protect one small part of the garden. Place potted plants, bushes and trees around a small raised patio or terrace in one corner of the yard, so as to maximize privacy when you want to sit and read or chat with friends, without having to figure out a way to create privacy over a vast expanse.
Another great option is to add trellis panels to planters and position them strategically to ensure maximum coverage
9. Privacy Screens For Smaller Spaces
If your “garden” is more like a tiny space out the back of your house or even a balcony, you can still add planters with lattice and climbing vines to create division.
Another great option is a privacy screen. You can buy these or make one from reclaimed shutters, and it has the advantage of being moveable. When the sun turns or your neighbours come out on to their open patio, you can set it up in such a way as to give a little privacy without putting in a permanent structure.
10. Shade Trees For Larger Spaces
In larger gardens, creating privacy and shade can be accomplished by strategically planting deciduous trees. You get a natural screen protection with the leaves and branches from other multi-level homes near you. And in the winter when the leaves have all fallen, you can have streaming sunshine for your home. Planting deciduous trees is a longer term project, but well worth it in the end.
However you enjoy your garden and green spaces, a little bit of privacy can go a long way to making these places another part of our home. Places where you can entertain or just relax after a long day. Plan your garden privacy this winter so that come the spring, you’re ready to go!