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4 Ways to Make Your Backyard a Little More Private

privacy hedge

Are you avoiding your backyard because you feel there is little privacy and are worried your neighbors will see every movement and hear every conversation? For many homeowners, a lack of backyard privacy is the one thing stopping them from enjoying family-time in the yard or entertaining guests on a warm summer night. You don’t want your property’s potential to go to waste, but you also don’t necessarily want to let your neighbors in on all the fun you’re having. Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to avoid this. Here are 4 ways you can turn your backyard into a private haven.

The Hedge: A Living Fence

corner hedge

Hedge plants are not just for lawn sculptures in your front yard! You can also use them to frame your backyard and add an element of privacy. Not only will a hedge stop neighbors from seeing what you’re doing—but it’ll also make your backyard beautiful and green!

  • Boxwood (Buxus selections) is an evergreen that is often considered to be the standard for hedges. If you want a formal and neat look, this plant will require frequent trimming. However, you can also allow boxwood to grow more naturally, which is better for its health—trimming causes the branches to grow very densely, and the plant, therefore, receives less light. One huge benefit of boxwood is that deer will not eat it! A fence is the most effective way to actually keep deer out of your garden, but boxwood contains alkaloids that are poisonous to deer.
  • Flowering quince (Chaenomeles selections) can be a great hedge plant if you’re looking for something a little more colorful. It can grow between 6 and 10 feet tall, and it produces red, pink, or white blossoms. Like with boxwood, deer tend to avoid this plant—in this case due to the thorns on its branches.
  • Holly (Ilex selections) can be used as a hedge plant and comes in many different varieties, which you can choose from based on what kind of hedge you need. While the Shamrock Inkberry holly is better for short hedges, the Dragon Lady holly tree (Ilex x aquipernyi) is a hybrid that’s great for privacy hedges. Unfortunately, despite the holly plant’s spiky leaves, deer do like to munch away at it.
  • Northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) is a shrub that produces unique grey berries. It is deciduous and therefore loses many of its leaves during winter, which some might consider a drawback. However, despite having no flowers, the plant produces a fragrance that both birds and humans find pleasure in the summer and fall. This fragrance also makes the plant resistant to deer and insects .

2. Berms: Another Green Barrier

Hedges aren’t the only plants that can help you make your yard more private. Even if you already have a hedge, there’s no reason not to add more foliage! However, some neighborhoods may not allow hedges or fences at all, forcing you to get a little more creative with your privacy efforts.

If your backyard is flat and contains limited foliage, it’s left wide open to your neighbors. Creating berms adds levels to your yard and therefore more privacy. Berms are raised plant beds that you can construct by piling soil and mulch into a mound. Then, you can start adding plants to your berm such as small trees and shrubbery. Layering the plants in berms is an easy way to build a privacy shield between you and your neighbors.

3. Panels for Privacy

Privacy fences may naturally come to mind when you’re considering making your backyard more private. A panel fence is also your best bet for keeping deer and pests away and keeping your pets and children inside the yard.

Full privacy fences


There are varying levels of privacy fences you can install. Privacy fences are usually the go-to item for, well, privacy, because they have no gaps between panels and therefore give neighbors no visibility to your yard (unless they peek over the top of the fence, that is). Privacy fences also offer a year-long solution. When plants and trees die or shed their foliage for the fall and winter, a privacy fence stands strong. Also, they come in a variety of materials and colors so they become as much of your landscape as your lawn and garden.

Semi privacy fences

A semi-private fence, on the other hand, does offer partial visibility through the spaces between panels. This style is known as a “good neighbor fence” because the gaps make it less antisocial—and it doesn’t have a “good side,” so it’ll look just as nice from your perspective as your neighbors’. If you prefer the look of this style but don’t want to be seen at all, you can still opt to make your yard more private by adding foliage and other elements.

4. Rippling Water

water fountainFences and plants will help absorb some of the sounds from your yard; however if you want to take extra measures to make sure no one can overhear you, you might want to consider installing a fountain or other type of structure featuring running water. The sound of rippling water not only masks sounds from your yard but also helps create a tranquil environment. You want the sound of your fountain to be soothing and provide pleasing white noise—if it’s too loud, it’ll do the opposite of its intended purpose and become a distraction. Water that falls down multiple levels or from a greater height will be louder. A smaller example of a fountain is a birdbath with flowing water. If you’re open to the maintenance, you may also consider a fishpond with an overflowing waterfall.

Any combination of these elements will help make your backyard more private. If you can manage to include foliage, fences, and rippling water, you’ll be sure no uninvited guests are partaking in your backyard fun. However, on their own, any of these methods can definitely be utilized in ways that give you peace and quiet and keep neighbors out of your business.

How have you created privacy in your backyard? Share some of your tricks with us in the comments.

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