Dreaming of gardening in your birthday suit or dancing in the moonlight — without prying eyes cramping your style? No matter your budget, there’s a backyard privacy solution to achieve your goals. From cheap ways to block your neighbor’s view to natural privacy screens, read on for tips to create the ultimate private backyard oasis.
What to Consider Before You Add Privacy to Your Backyard
The right backyard privacy solution depends on your unique setup. Before diving right in, take a moment to brainstorm your wants, needs and wishes when it comes to making your backyard dreams come true.
Your Space and Goals
Adding privacy to an acre lot is an entirely different animal than creating a private space on your back patio or porch. First, decide what area you’re focusing on. Then consider whether you’re looking for full privacy or if a partial screening will do.
How quickly do you want or need to add privacy to your backyard? A fence will provide near-instantaneous privacy, while landscaping solutions take longer to fill in. A fast-growing privacy hedge, for instance, will provide screening in a matter of months, while backyard privacy trees are typically a longer-term solution.
How much you want to spend makes a difference in which backyard privacy ideas will appeal to you. The good news is you can spend as much — or as little — as you want and still end up with your own private backyard oasis.
Cheap Ways to Block Your Neighbor’s View
You don’t have to break the bank to get that priceless privacy you’re after. If you’re on a tight budget, here are several inexpensive backyard privacy ideas to consider. You can even tackle some of these budget-friendly projects in a weekend, putting just a few days between you and your newly secluded backyard.
Add Supersized Planters
Buy several large planters and fill them with tall, decorative grasses or flowers. Arrange the planters in a row along a section of your porch, patio or other areas where you need screening. This is a less expensive version of the classic (but somewhat pricey) use of shrubs to form a privacy fence.
Expect to spend at least $25 for a basic, large planter, with costs increasing to $100 or more depending on the style. You’ll also need potting soil ($4 to $15 per bag) and plants, which vary in price depending on variety and size. Simple ornamental grass, such as red fountain grass or ruby grass, in a gallon-size container may start around $25.
Install Outdoor Privacy Curtains
Outdoor privacy curtains add a whole vibe to your porch or patio. You can use trees or support beams on an existing porch to hang the curtains. But if there is no existing structure, you’ll need to get two to four wood beams that are tall enough to keep the curtains off the ground.
Install the beams vertically — an easy way to do this is to set each beam in a 5-gallon bucket filled with quick-setting concrete — and attach an outdoor curtain rod between them. Drive simple wooden posts into the ground wherever you need extra support for your curtains.
Backyard privacy curtains are an easy project for most DIYers. You’ll spend about $20 to $50 per outdoor curtain panel, $35 to $45 per wood beam if needed, and $15 to $35 for each outdoor curtain rod.
Build a DIY Privacy Screen
You can make a quirky yet functional privacy screen out of a few old doors, either painted to match, spruced up in fun colors or left in an original rustic state. Simply attach them using hinges to form a folding screen. You can also repurpose old shutters, screens, pallets and other materials to create a privacy screen. With a little creativity, the possibilities are endless.
Another option is to purchase pre-built screens made from wicker or wood depending on your preference. A trellis also makes a simple privacy screen, which you can fill in with the climbing vines of your choice. While pre-built screens can cost hundreds of dollars, an upcycled privacy screen costs next to nothing to make, especially if you find your materials around your house or from a flea market or thrift store.
Convert Your Shed Into a ‘He’ or ‘She Shed’
If you have a shed on your property, convert it into a “he” or “she shed” where you can unwind in privacy. This only requires emptying the shed and adding seating, privacy curtains and an outdoor rug to create a cozy nook. If you want to go all-out, you can hire a professional to add electricity, plumbing and insulation, but expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $8,000 or more to make your shed truly livable.
Landscaping Ideas to Block Your Neighbors
Plants, including grasses, trees and shrubs, make some of the best natural privacy screens for your backyard. Why choose a living privacy screen for your backyard? The main advantages, according to the Arbor Day Foundation, include protection from the elements, improving the view from your home and less intrusion from pedestrians and neighbors.
Build a Living Wall
Create a simple living wall by hanging several flower boxes from a lattice screen or other frame. Fill the boxes with soil and the greenery of your choice. For heavy coverage, choose compact but bushy plants to occupy your boxes, taking into account how much sun exposure the wall receives.
Consider including trailing plants, such as ferns, pothos and ivy, for cover between boxes, or even fruits, vegetables and herbs, such as basil, cilantro or strawberries. For the green thumbs among us, this backyard privacy idea has the added bonus of increasing your gardening space. Living wall costs vary depending on size and your chosen plants, but expect to spend about $22 per flower box, $10 per flower box holder and another $24 per lattice panel, plus the cost of your plants.
Plant Backyard Privacy Trees
Planting trees adds beauty and natural screening to your backyard but choosing the right type matters. While evergreens provide year-round screening, the Arbor Day Foundation points out deciduous trees provide fall color or flowers. But, since they lose their leaves, they won’t give you privacy all year.
Account for the height and width of the trees you’re considering to add privacy to your backyard. While the height of the tree will dictate the vertical coverage you get, you can adjust the width of privacy screening by planting multiple rows of trees or, if it’s too wide, via trimming, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. The best backyard privacy trees to create a living privacy fence, it notes, include:
- American arborvitaes, which grow up to 30 feet high and 12 feet wide
- Emerald arborvitaes, which reach up to 15 feet high and can be trimmed to 2 feet wide to make a privacy hedge
Looking for more options? Check out these 10 trees to create a natural privacy screen.
Consider a Fast-Growing Privacy Hedge
If you like the idea of a natural privacy screen but don’t want to wait years for trees to mature, plant a fast-growing privacy hedge. North privet is one option, the Arbor Day Foundation explains. This deciduous shrub can grow up to 3 feet per year, reaching 8 to 12 feet tall. North privet plants cost anywhere from $8 for a bare root plant to $40 for a larger 3-gallon size.
Use a privacy hedge to border your property or strategically place it to block your neighbor’s view. Surround just your patio with shrubs as well, including boxwood or dwarf lilac, to add additional screening and interest.
Ideas for Building a Privacy Fence or Pergola
Fencing is best when you want total privacy, fast. The major benefit of privacy fencing is that it provides a complete backyard privacy solution in just a few days. The downside? It’s expensive and laborious. Here are several privacy fence ideas for your backyard.
Put Up a Backyard Privacy Fence
Privacy fences come in wood, vinyl, aluminum and other options to suit a variety of needs and budgets. The length and height of the fence, along with the material, will dictate its cost, as will whether you plan to do it yourself or hire a professional.
Material costs may range from $1,500 to $8,000 or more, while installation can cost about $35 an hour. You may need to get a permit and/or a survey to install fencing in your neighborhood, along with approval from your homeowners association (if applicable).
Install a Simple Lattice Fence
With some wooden posts or boards, and enough lattice to cover them, you can build lattice fencing. Before installation, paint or stain the lattice to complement the color of your house or yard furnishings.
While some lattice fences are elaborate and interspersed with concrete or stone pillars, you can find lattice panels for about $24, depending on size, and wooden fence posts for as low as $9. If you like the idea of a privacy fence — but not the cost involved — this fencing option is about as inexpensive as it gets.
The exception is if you have an existing fence that you can modify to make it more private. For instance, place privacy slats or climbing vines on a chain link fence to add privacy to your backyard without spending a fortune.
Build a Pergola or Gazebo
A pergola or gazebo can add elegance and ambiance to your private backyard oasis. If you’re handy, you can certainly build your own, but many people will prefer professional installation. The cost to build a pergola ranges from about $2,000 to $6,000 or more. Expect to pay from $1,000 to $5,000 for materials and another $1,000 for labor costs.
To build a gazebo, costs are similar, ranging from $2,800 to more than $9,000, depending on whether you choose wood, vinyl or another material, and if you have it professionally installed. Pergolas and gazebos can be as private as you make them. It’s easy to add outdoor curtains or climbing plants for additional natural privacy screening.
Set Your Sights on Your Next DIY Adventure
With your newfound backyard privacy in hand, it’s time to set your sights on other backyard and front yard projects — DIY or otherwise — using the resources below.