4 Stylish Methods to Make a Backyard Private

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The white picket fence might be ubiquitous when it comes to idyllic country homes, but a privacy fence can be an eyesore.

“Privacy is important. But so is how your backyard looks and feels,” says Arnie Pellegrini, owner of New York City-based landscape construction company Long Island Elite. “Your backyard is a landscape... you need to think outside the box when it comes to privacy.”

The Natural Fence

Jason Cameron, host of “Desperate Landscapes” on DIY Network, says that ‘natural’ fences made of trees and shrubs can replace the vinyl, metal or wood kind. This green fence line provides privacy without feeling like towering walls, Cameron says.

“I’m a big fan of natural fences. Not only do they shield you from people seeing into your backyard, they also shield you from cold winds during the wintertime and the hot sun during the summer,” he says.

Cameron recommends weeping bamboo trees, which are fast-growing and non-invasive, or the Sullivan Cypress, which boasts large drooping branches that provide both privacy and shade. He is also a fan of evergreen trees, because they retain their color all year long.

To guarantee that the natural fence will grow in a straight line, first dig a straight trench, Cameron says, then plant the shrubs directly into it. Potted plants will also do the trick.

Lattice and Vines

Blanche Garcia, a residential and commercial designer who has appeared on Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible,” recommends lattice panels and crawling vines. This will partially but not completely block a neighbor’s view. Another bonus with this option is that the homeowner can choose vines that flower or bear fruit.

“You don’t have to put up a huge fence,” Garcia says. “With lattice, you can provide that separation between your backyard and your neighbor’s without totally shutting them out. It’s as if you are sectioning off a room inside your home. You don’t have to build a wall to create a separate cozy space. You can do the same with your backyard.”

Homeowners will have to be patient with lattice panels, though. It takes time for vines to grow mature enough to provide the privacy that homeowners want.

Mix it up

For those who absolutely need fences for privacy (people who have large, sprawling backyards), Pellegrini recommends mixing different materials to create a more attractive fence line.

For instance, insert a section of lattice fence festooned with climbing roses with sections of stockade fence to add visual interest. Or try combining fencing with shrubs and trees.

“You don’t want to always use the same materials, whether you’re putting up a fence or planting shrubs and trees,” Pellegrini says. “Mix it up. Otherwise, it becomes boring.”

Privacy with Fabric

For backyard decks or patios, an awning does double duty to provide shade and block the view from the neighbors’ second stories, Garcia says.

Another simple way to use fabric for backyard privacy is to hang outdoor rugs from outdoor structures. The rugs are heavy enough to withstand winds but temporary enough to be changed or brought indoors during inclement weather.

Tags: privacy, fence, style