As the poet Robert Frost said: “Good fences make good neighbors.” We like to say: “Privacy makes GREAT neighbours.”
We’re not talking about building an English style walled garden with a secret doorway—though that would be lovely! When we say privacy, we’re talking about ways you can create spaces in your suburban backyard that go beyond standard fences.
Many neighbourhoods in Mississauga and beyond are designed in rows of two story, single family homes. That means that unless you’re at the end of a row, you’ve got neighbours who can see into your backyard on three sides. Your ideas around creating a private backyard oasis will be marred slightly if every time you sit out, you can see your neighbour in their bathroom, looking back at you!
In other words, fences will only get you so far: you need some other garden creations to create some legitimate privacy for yourself and your family.
Assess The Space You Have To Work With
Your first step in creating some privacy is deciding where you want it most and where it makes sense for your garden. Depending on the size of your garden, which way it faces and how much sun you get, there are different ways you can proceed.
Toemar has a handy checklist you can use before starting any project.
For A Small Garden, A Great Option Is A Living Wall
When you don’t have a lot of space for garden beds or even potted plants, creating a vertical garden, known as a living wall, will help you get some plants growing AND create some privacy. This is also a great option if you live in a condo or apartment to separate your patio from your neighbour’s side.
Planting edibles and perennials that bloom throughout the season in a vertical garden is ideal use of the space, while still giving in to your green thumb. If you place it in such a way that the plants get the sun they need, you can then create a space for yourself in the shade beside it! Add a simple shade awning, using your wall as an anchor, and you’ve got a little private space to lay on the chaise and snooze on a sunny, summer afternoon.
A Pergola With Vines, For Shade And Privacy
If you have more space in the garden, it’s nice to create a patch where you can set up seating or a dining table, to really enjoy your outdoor space to the maximum, without ruining the sight lines in your garden.
A pergola set up on a deck or on some flagstone can be enhanced with flowering vines, or even grape vines, grown through the lattice like “roof”, so that you have shade and privacy in one natural looking setting.
This can also be a perfect set up if you have a hot tub, to ensure that you can sit and soak without being peeped at.
A Gazebo Can Give You Privacy And Bug Protection
With the solid roof of a gazebo, you can eliminate the second floor viewings of your lunch spread as well as create a decent amount of shade. If you set up your gazebo on the corner of a deck, adding lattice on two sides can help create even more privacy.
The other advantage to a gazebo is the ability to add netting and a door, which makes dining al fresco more enjoyable, and an evening drink with fairy lights decorating the ceiling will be mosquito free.
You’ve probably seen people who have added gauzy, flowing curtains to the sides of their porches, giving them more privacy while still letting the breeze flow through. You can take that same idea to your backyard by adding them to your pergola or gazebo, if you have a side that is particularly exposed to the view of others.
If you don’t have the space for a pergola, another option to leverage the beauty and privacy of flowing curtains is to create moveable frames for them: this way, you can put them where you want in the garden, in effect creating a privacy wall, and you can move it around if you want to, depending on the position of the sun.
Lattice And Vines Keep A Balcony Cool And Private
If you have a small deck or balcony that you don’t use because of the way you are on display when you sit there, a simple fix is to add lattice with climbing vines intertwined throughout, positioned on the sides where you have the most ‘visibility’. The light still comes through but you can sit out and enjoy your morning coffee in peace, with a little shade to protect you from the heat of the sun.
For A Large Yard, Plant Some Trees
It’s a solution that takes time to grow up, but if you have a good sized yard, a large, leafy deciduous tree or two will help create shade and privacy throughout the spring and summer months. The only downside is the raking you’ll have to do come fall, but jumping in leaf piles is a time honoured tradition worth preserving!
However you create your space, always be mindful of what you want to use it for and how much space you have to work with. The winter is a great time to start planning for next spring, so that by summer, you’re able to enjoy your backyard to the fullest.