Nosy neighbours preventing you from enjoying your deck or patio? Reclaim your outdoor space with simple ways to create a private backyard oasis.
- Block it out: The simplest way to stop people from peering in is to install a fence. Always choose a fence material and style that blends with your home and garden; wood is ideal for a traditional home and can be painted or stained to match your home’s exterior. Steel and aluminum complement a more contemporary home. To add architectural interest, personalize the top of the fence with latticework, post caps, cut outs or curved tops. Then attach decorative hooks or wall brackets for hanging plants. Just remember when installing a fence to check city restrictions on fence heights.
- Dig in: Dense foliage shrubs, trees or evergreens offer privacy, muffle traffic noises and add a natural, woodsy feel. When opting for shrubs or trees, choose ones that keep their foliage in the winter, providing privacy all year round. Another plus is zoning restrictions often don’t apply to "living walls" so you may be able to achieve more height with plantings than with a traditional fence.
- Vine not? Vines and climbers are inexpensive alternatives to fences or trees, and are especially good for decks and balconies. Honeysuckle, ivy, Virginia creeper, clematis, sweet peas and morning glories create an open wall that allows air passage but not prying eyes.
- Get your hands dirty: The simplest way to add privacy to a deck, patio or balcony is to add potted plants. Large plants like hibiscus, grasses and herbs offer colourful, textural ways to create privacy and natural beauty all at once. Choose large pots or urns that hold several types of plants and flowers for maximum impact. Place on a plant stand or bench for added height.
- Curtain call: Adding privacy can be as easy as a quick trip to the linen store. Weather-resistant fabric can be hung outside using hooks, rods or nails. They’re also a great choice to block out an unsightly view (street, brick wall etc.) and add colour to your space.
- Lattice: Lattice is one of the best additions to any outdoor area because it conceals without blocking your view. Wood or plastic lattice is readily available at home improvement centres and has a variety of uses: make a privacy screen, attach to balcony railings or lean against a low fence for added height, or use for deck walls. Decorate with mirrors or hanging plants for added privacy.
- Picture it: If greenery and flowers are not your thing, create a customized screen using a favourite family or vacation photo. Photographs can be digitally processed onto outdoor-safe canvas or mesh that is available in sizes up to eight feet! Look for screens that are UV protected.
- Made in the shade: A cheap and cheerful option for outdoor privacy is a large beach umbrella. Along with providing shade, they reduce exposure from higher vantage points, like the neighbours’ second-storey bedroom or their kids’ tree house. By grouping two or three umbrellas, you can extend the shade and the privacy to as large an area as you’d like.
- Make like Liesl & Rolf in The Sound of Music: Create your own garden hideaway with a gazebo. These outdoor structures add architectural interest to your backyard and make for a romantic, secluded spot. If you don’t have space for a gazebo, get the same effect with a pergola or arbour. Up the privacy factor by covering the sides with climbing roses, wisteria or hydrangea.
- Try some southern comfort: Take a cue from southern gardeners and install a mesh screen around your porch or deck. Screened walls are ideal privacy providers because they block people from having a clear view inside, but still let you look out. Screens also block insects and the sun, providing both privacy and protection!
In the process of building, odds are the design will change. Once the deck starts to take on a three-dimensional shape, suddenly you may see new potential, or decide to make changes. So long as these fit into your overall budget, then get creative. Your deck can be a fabulous extension of your home, so make sure you give it the proper attention.