How to Landscape for Privacy: 15 Ideas

What you do in your yard is none of the neighbors’ business, and it’s none of our business either. We’re just here to give you 15 ideas for how you can landscape for privacy so you can wear your polka-dot pajamas outside whenever you like.

Interested in a living, green barrier? We’ve got plenty of plant options. Worried about the nosy neighbors with an aerial view from the second floor? We’ve got you covered there, too.

These 15 landscaping ideas for outdoor privacy will help keep out unwanted visitors, block the view of your neighbor’s ugly compost pile, and free you and your pajamas from the piercing eyes of judgment.

15 Ideas on How to Landscape for Privacy

1. Wood Lattice Fence

Wood Lattice
Photo Credit: Field Outdoor Spaces / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A wood lattice fence around the yard lets you get creative with the level of privacy you want. This flexible landscape design helps keep the kids and pets safe in the yard while also allowing you to share a friendly hello with the neighbors.

But if you’d prefer more privacy from lookers through the lattice work, consider hanging potted plants along the fence or adding greenery wrapping around fence posts and beams with ivy, climbing roses, or hydrangeas.

These plant solutions can add gorgeous texture and color to the fence while also offering an extra dose of privacy along your property line.

Bonus: Lattice fences are also an ideal fence for areas prone to high winds. The openings in the design allow air to pass through, so it is less likely to be damaged during storms.

2. Vines

Privacy Vines
Photo Credit: Pexels

Vines add a classical, beautiful atmosphere to your yard while also providing privacy. Nothing says charm and elegance while drinking your morning coffee surrounded by green, flowering vines and wearing your favorite slippers.

Here are a few of the best flowering vines for privacy:

  • Chocolate vine
  • Climbing nasturtium
  • Mandevilla
  • Moonflower (also great for a moon garden)
  • Passion flower vine

These plants will make such an excellent thick cover around your fence or wall that your gossipy neighbors will struggle to see (and hear) any drama going on in your yard.

Vines like Boston ivy and creeping fig are grown on freeway overpasses to block out traffic noise, so covering your wall or fence’s surface with vines will likely help absorb sounds coming from your yard.

3. Roof

Landscape Privacy Rooftop
Photo Credit: Robert R Gigliotti / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

A privacy roof is a perfect solution to blocking the view of those neighbors living on the upper floors. A roof outdoors can serve as more than just a sky fence. It provides shade on those hot summer days and can be a great aesthetic complement to your outdoor living space.

Consider hanging decorative lights or petunias (an annual that works well in the shade) for a cozy evening in your outdoor space. To further beautify the area, start a rooftop garden to bring greenery and life to an otherwise gray, lifeless view.

4. Privacy Hedges

Privacy Hedge
Photo Credit: Pixabay

If you prefer a natural look for your lawn, then a living barrier may be just what you need. Hedge barriers are excellent at absorbing noise, blocking wind, reducing dust, and encouraging wildlife to call your lawn home.

A well-maintained hedge (aka living fence) can invite birds and small animals while also protecting them from getting trapped in the lawn by a non-living barrier, like a fence. A clipped hedge with an eye-catching design can turn any yard into a charming, private space.

Before calling your local landscaper to have them plant your new barrier, note if the chosen hedge will lose its foliage during the year. A deciduous hedge will lose its leaves each fall, though it still will provide some privacy. A hedge of evergreen shrubs, however, will provide year-round privacy, even during your snowball fights.

A few of the best plants for privacy hedges:

5. Privacy Fence

Privacy Fence
Photo credit: Privacy Fence / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

A solid fence can offer privacy solutions for homeowners with small spaces who can’t afford to lose space to overgrowing barriers like privacy hedges or vines. While fences may have a less natural look, this can easily be remedied with a few shrubs and flowers planted along the sides to spruce up your yard.

Wood is a popular material for privacy fences because it adds a more natural look to the lawn and can be painted or stained to match your style and taste. Privacy fences are also a low maintenance, yet more expensive, option compared to a living plant barrier, which needs routine watering, trimming, and fertilization.

6. Curtains

Curtains Around Pergola
Photo credit: Pexels

Hanging curtains around your pergola, porch, gazebo, or back deck can add shade and intimacy to your outdoor living space. Have you been attempting a romantic dinner outside, but the neighbors keep interrupting to share how “adorable” you two are? Time to turn date night into your night and make it a private event. Draw the shades.

7. Tall Plants

Tall Privacy Plants
Photo credit: Pixabay

If you’re happy to have butterflies and hummingbirds stopping for a visit, then tall plants, large bushes, and small trees can make a great barrier between you and the neighbors.

A gorgeous barrier of tall sunflowers, ornamental grasses, and stunning hydrangea bushes will give you a gorgeous view of something other than your neighbor’s trash cans.

A few tall plants that work well for privacy:

  • Forsythia (up to 9 feet)
  • ‘Green Giant’ Arborvitae (up to 40 feet)
  • Lilac (up to 15 feet)
  • Pampas grass (grows up to 12 feet)

8. Trees

trees for privacy
Photo Credit: La Citta Vita / Flickr / CC BY SA-2.0

While serving as privacy and sound barriers, trees also can provide plenty of fun landscaping opportunities. Why not make a tree stand out from the lawn with a gorgeous retaining wall or beautiful flower beds?

Trees are great for privacy, but they also can be the perfect spot to build a hammock, place a bench under the leaves, or grow a shade garden. This living barrier also helps to promote clean air and control pollution.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year. 

Here are a few of the best trees for privacy in your yard:

  • Eastern red cedar
  • ‘Little Gem’ magnolia
  • ‘Spartan’ juniper

Even better? Trees can add significant value to your landscape and the resale value of your home. Trees are a wise investment, if you don’t mind raking leaves in the fall.

9. Gate

Privacy Gate
Photo credit: Pxfuel

Even when you’re having an intimate conversation with a friend, Mr. Nosy Neighbor has no problem interrupting and asking why your lights were on at 2 a.m. A gate can be the perfect privacy solution for those neighbors walking onto your lawn without an invitation.

Gates offer flexibility, enabling you to open or lock your entrance any time you choose.

10. Retaining Wall

Privacy Retaining Wall
Photo Credit: Redi-Rock International / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A retaining wall can create a stylish enclosure. Consider topping off your retaining wall with raised flower beds, complimenting its stones with an elegant water fountain, or building it around your living space.

A retaining wall is an investment, but once it’s installed, it is a low-maintenance barrier that also can offer excellent erosion control on hilly terrain.

11. Shelved Barrier

Photo Credit: Negativespace

If you’re going to put up a barrier, why not make use of its walls? Give your fence or wall some shelves, a living wall, or hanging plants to spruce things up and make the most of your vertical gardening space.

Add flower pots, gnomes, or other small ornaments to the stands to give your yard some personality and charm.

12. Raised Flower Beds

Flower bed
Photo Credit: John Smith / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Raised flower beds can be the perfect compliment to privacy panels. Why not do your gardening and get the privacy you need with this multi-use landscape design?

Raised beds makes excellent use of limited space where you can’t have room for a separate garden and an enclosing barrier.

13. Add a Water Feature

Waterfall in lawn
Photo Credit: Mitch Ames / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Turn your blasé barrier into a visual interest with a sleek, modern water feature design. Perhaps a wall with a fountain mounted in the center as a focal point.

Not only will you add the comforting feeling of privacy to your yard, but you’ll also experience an atmosphere of tranquility and calm.

14. Privacy Screen

Privacy screen in a lawn
Photo Credit: Gary J. Wood / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’re not looking for an enclosure that surrounds your yard’s perimeter, a privacy screen can be an excellent solution.

Typically made of horizontal slats, a privacy screen stands near the living space you wish to remain private, such as a pool or small dining area.

Privacy screens can either surround your private living space or simply be installed as a single panel that provides some separation between you and the neighbors.

15. Trellis

Trellis with Climbing Roses
Photo credit: Carmen Castells Schofield / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A trellis is among the best ways to provide privacy for a designated space rather than enclosing the entire yard. Similar to a wood lattice fence, a trellis can support self-climbing plants.

A trellis adds charm and elegance to the yard and creates a gorgeous wall around your private living spaces. Nothing makes an outdoor evening dinner more romantic than a privacy wall of climbing red roses or other flowering vines.

Here are a few of the best plant to add along your trellis:

  • Bougainvillea
  • Sweet pea
  • Trumpet vine

FAQ About Landscaping for Privacy

What are the Best Ideas for Backyard Privacy?

Here are a few ideas on how to create a private, relaxing space in your backyard:

Foliage: Shrubs, bushes, and vines are your friend if you want to increase the privacy in your backyard. Shrubs with multiple heights (think a row each of tall, medium, and short bushes) add additional privacy by creating a layered effect. Choose your foliage options wisely, and you’re sure to block unsightly views in and out of your backyard.

Fences: It may not be a new idea, but fences still work to create privacy and a visual barrier in a backyard. Privacy fences are the most obvious option, but other fence types, including bamboo, vinyl, or masonry fences can have the same effect.

Barriers: Curtains on a pergola, well-placed potted arborvitae, or a privacy screen are all portable (and inexpensive) barriers to create privacy in your backyard.

Is Building a Privacy Barrier Considered ‘Rude’?

Fence etiquette is not uncommon in some neighborhoods. A privacy barrier can sometimes cause neighbors to assume an unfriendly or unwelcoming statement. But privacy barriers do not always mean “keep out.”

Privacy barriers serve many purposes and are a great way to keep kids close to the home, ensure your dog doesn’t ruin the neighbor’s flower beds, and to add an extra layer of caution against intruders.

How Tall Can My Barrier Be?

Check your local building codes or homeowners association (HOA) to determine the legal maximum height of your barrier. Each city has its own fencing height regulations.

Standard measurements for backyard fences are typically between 6 to 8 feet tall, but the height varies depending on your city’s laws and the type of barrier you are building.

How to Block Those Prying Eyes

Whether you prefer a natural hedge barrier that blends in with the environment or a customized stone retaining wall, a privacy barrier can add aesthetic value to your yard and match your style.

Call a professional landscaper near you to discuss cost estimates, design ideas, and the installation process. Need landscaping for privacy on a budget? Many landscape designers market themselves as budget-friendly and work closely with clients to design within budget.

Privacy is as important in the yard as it is inside the home. A neighbor’s prying eyes shouldn’t ruin a romantic outdoor dinner, and a neighbor’s unsightly tanning shouldn’t disturb your view. And if the neighbors still try to spot you in your polka-dot pajamas? Well, then you may need more than a tall fence.

Main image credit: Needpix

Jane Purnell

Jane Purnell

Jane Purnell is an artist, writer, and nature lover. She enjoys teaching readers about the importance of eco-friendly lawn care, integrated pest management, biodiversity, and sustainable landscaping.