7 clever ways to make your backyard more private

Backyard furniture
Backyard furniture (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Whether you’re relaxing with a good read, al fresco dining or even cooking with one of the best outdoor pizza ovens, your backyard is an extension of your home. But if you don’t have high fences or walls to shield you from neighbours or passers-by, it can feel a little intrusive and uncomfortable. 

Luckily, there are clever ways to make your backyard more private without having to build a fortress around your home. From utitilizing nature such as tall shrubs and plants to DIY privacy screens, these can offer a level of privacy as well as create visual impact.

In addition, these ideas are simple, inexpensive and a great way to divide your outdoor space into different zones. So, if you want a quiet retreat, here are 7 clever ways to make your backyard more private. 

1. Super-sized plants or trees

Tall plants

Tall plants (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Tall grasses, plants and shrubs all offer a natural screening for your outdoor space, and can really add an enclosed feel. Ideally, opt for fast-growing trees for shade and privacy (such as oaks, maples, and beeches), mixed with evergreens for a more gentle screening. These can still allow some sunlight through, without entirely blocking light. 

In addition, popular shrubs such as boxwood will make beautifully manicured hedges — with some varieties reaching up to 20 feet tall. Of course, you could benefit from expert tips for shaping your hedges like a professional to keep it looking great all year round. In addition, if you want to block out noisy traffic (or neighbors!) these are the 7 best trees and shrubs to soundproof your yard.

Just be sure you select hardy plants that can survive winters in your USDA Hardiness zone so they can last all year around. 

2. Clumping bamboo

Bamboo plants outdoors

Bamboo plants outdoors (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Non-invasive bamboo (clumping bamboo), forms in tight clumps that are up to 5 inches in diameter, making it the ideal plant for backyard privacy. Unlike the invasive, running bamboo plant (that grows like a weed), non-invasive types can be easily maintained and shaped to suit your style. 

Although hardy, bamboo plants are best placed in sunny spots, these are ideal for flower beds and in tall containers. The best type of bamboo for backyard privacy is Gracilis, also known as Slender Weaver Bamboo, which doesn’t grow out of control.

Plus, you can choose from a variety of heights from your local gardening centre, with full-grown plants going up to 30 feet tall.  What's more, if you don’t have an abundance of bamboo, you can mix with tall grasses, which will make a stunning feature. 

Just ensure you plant the non-invasive bamboo, or else it could damage your property, much like these 5 backyard plants that could damage your home

3. Bamboo/reed screening  

Bamboo outdoor screening

Bamboo outdoor screening (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Alternatively, you could invest in a bamboo, rattan or reed screening. Bamboo screening can either be used on its own or easily attached to an existing fence. This is also ideal if you want to disguise damaged or worn fences in your yard.  

There are various sizes of bamboo screening available in rolls, so ensure you find the correct size roll for your fence. Bamboo screening can be attached using u-nails, screws, or cable ties, just make sure that the bottom of the screening is also secure to prevent it from dislodging over time.  

Not only is bamboo or reed screening a sustainable way to add privacy, but also looks exotic and gives a holiday vibe in your yard.  

4. Trellis with climbing flowers 

Trellis with flowers

Trellis with flowers (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another clever way to make your backyard more private are climbing plants on a trellis. In fact, climbing roses make the ideal privacy plant, adding beauty, color and fragrance to any yard. When opting for roses, these are best trained to grow on horizontal or close-meshed climbing aids, as they tend to grow outwards over time. And always ensure you choose a climbing structure that is strong enough to handle the weight.

You might find flowers reaching up to a metre above or around the climbing aid if it outgrows the frame. In this case, roses should be pruned regularly to keep these in good condition and shape. Plus, you can grow climbing roses on pillars, and around arches to make a vibrant feature    

5. Vertical wall garden 

Living wall in garden

Living wall in garden (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If your fence is sparse in certain areas or you have an empty wall, a ‘living wall’ is a great way to grow lush plants/foliage, yet offer some backyard privacy.  

Living walls are a clever use of vertical space, and can make a stunning backdrop for any home. In fact, growing a vertical garden is becoming more popular for compact and balcony gardens, as a space-saving way to elevate your outdoor space.

The easiest method to create a living wall is to use fabric pocket planters that can be securely fixed to any wall, fence or even shed. In fact, even if you don't want to cover the entire wall, you can find living wall planters with different numbers of pockets to suit your space, much like this Active Gear Guy Vertical Hanging Outdoor Wall Planter ($23, Amazon), for compact spaces. If you're buying several wall planters, remember to space them out evenly on the wall or surface, ensuring each row is neatly tucked underneath the one above.

Whether you want beautiful blooms, succulents or even a herb garden, once they grow lush, they will also offer much needed privacy. 

6.  Patio privacy screen 

Privacy screen in backyard

Privacy screen in backyard (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you don’t happen to have lush greenery to shield you, you can opt for patio privacy screens instead. Designed from metal, iron or galvanised steel, these sturdy screens will do well to create protective barriers, and also help to partition your outdoor space. 

These screens usually come in panels, and are easy to install. You can choose how many panels you need, in various stylish designs to suit your home such as this Decorative Outdoor Privacy Screen Panels ($179, Amazon). You can also move panels around and place them anywhere in your yard. 

In addition, these panels will instantly add a stylish, decorative flair to your outdoor space, which will impress your guests. 

7. Oversized patio umbrellas 

Red patio umbrellas

Red patio umbrellas (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another simple way to create backyard privacy is by using offset/cantilever patio umbrellas. These umbrellas are designed to tilt in the direction that you wish, and can offer shade and privacy from above and behind.  

Before buying a patio umbrella, always check the dimensions of the base and umbrella size (once opened), as you want to make sure it fits properly in your outdoor space. In addition, you’ll need sufficient room as most have 360-degree rotation such as this ABCCANOPY 9FT Cantilever Patio Umbrella ($215, Amazon).

What’s more, these are multi-functional as they are weather resistant, offer UV protection and of course, privacy from prying eyes! So you can sit outdoors to enjoy your backyard any time of year!

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Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!