How can we regain a sense of privacy in our backyard? We live in a developing suburb, and as our neighborhood has filled in, we’ve begun to feel exposed whenever we are outdoors. We need a privacy landscaping plan to screen us from our neighbors!
Create Your Backyard Sanctuary with Privacy Landscaping
Privacy landscaping can make your backyard feel like a sanctuary from the rest of the world where you, your family, and your friends can unwind and enjoy being outdoors. But in some cases, particularly in new homes located in developing suburbs, landscaping installed by the builder is minimal or has not had the time to become fully established–leaving backyards open and exposed to the view of anyone who happens to glance your way. Naturally, this can interfere with the restorative experience of relaxing in your backyard. That’s why it often becomes necessary, as your new neighborhood fills in, to invest in an additional round of landscaping specifically to improve backyard privacy, to screen out unwanted sights and sounds.
Screening elements could involve adding plants and built structures to create privacy, delineate your property, and quell the sound of neighborhood traffic. For example, plantings in combination with lattice panels, stone walls or fencing can be particularly effective at enhancing solitude and eliminating noise from the street. As an added bonus, perimeter screening also gives a pleasing backdrop to your quiet, calming backyard oasis.
Landscaping for Privacy Outside and Inside the Yard
When considering how to enhance backyard privacy, there are two ways to think about it. Of course, you want privacy from external elements such as neighbors, pedestrians, and the street, but internal privacy is also important. This can allow separation between different areas of the yard that have different functions, such as a sports court for the kids, an outdoor kitchen, or a meditation garden for the adults.
If you’re trying to keep nosy (or even nice) neighbors out of your line of sight while taking advantage of what your yard has to offer, hedges and tall shrubs can be used to build living walls along your property line. Within the landscape, additional plantings can be used to separate a patio or other quiet, contemplative spaces from areas used for activity or play, such as a swimming pool, fire pit, or party space for entertaining guests. This helps define these spaces in a landscape and gives each the feeling of being a distinct area with its own purpose. In a well-designed, fully functional landscape, privacy both outside and within the yard has been given careful consideration.
Creating the Sense of Enclosure With Visual Barriers
Few things are more relaxing than spending a nice afternoon sitting on the patio with a glass of wine, but the experience becomes slightly less enjoyable when you’re out in the open with no sense of enclosure. It’s lovely getting to know your neighbors, but you may not want to chat while you’re unwinding after work or trying to catch a tan in the middle of summer. Installing plantings can help define your space, create separation, and provide visual screening from outside interference.
A well-designed fence can be an attractive way to improve backyard privacy from the outside world and neighboring yards – not to mention, keep the dog (or even the kids) from running away. Especially in newer neighborhoods, homeowners will frequently need to install fencing, and adding a line of shrubs can supplement the effect of the built wall and add visual interest. Before getting started, it’s important to be aware of any restrictions on fencing types and heights in your area. A professional landscape company can help you plan a combination of a built plus “living” wall that will meet your neighborhood’s requirements as well as your family’s needs for privacy and peace.
Privacy Plantings Can Define Various Spaces Inside Your Yard
Open floor plans continue to be hot for interiors, but this type of design doesn’t work as well outdoors, especially when you have multiple areas of a yard that are used for vastly different activities. That’s why separating spaces within your yard is so important. Here’s an example: If you have a patio that’s meant for group gatherings, you may wish to have another, quieter space in your yard that’s intended for quieter, more intimate conversations. Without some kind of screening, this separation is difficult to achieve.
To create a sense of distinct areas in your yard, a casual garden path using stepping stones or pea gravel can work wonders. The path can meander from one area to another – for instance, from the bustling patio to a quiet bench beneath a tree. Each “zone” can also be defined by greenery and shrubbery, offering the sense that you have indeed entered a new space. This makes for an intriguing, fun, versatile landscape that serves many different purposes.
Backyard Privacy Features Can Subdue External Sounds or Smells
Backyard privacy extends beyond just what you can see with your eyes. Sometimes neighbors are noisy as well – and nearby traffic, leaf blowers, and other sounds can also be a nuisance, not to mention smells like car exhaust. Introducing the serene sound of a water feature such as a fountain or small waterfall can subdue both unwanted noises and smells. The volume of moving or falling water can be adjusted during design to cancel out most background noise. This is accomplished by modulating the speed of the water running through the system and “the drop” (the distance water falls before it hits a resounding surface). If you’re sitting close to a water feature in a partially secluded area, you will mostly hear what’s in your immediate surroundings – which will not be your neighbor’s lawnmower.
As for eliminating intrusive or unpleasant smells, moving and falling water tends to charge the atmosphere in its immediate vicinity. Water features cool and moisten the air, leaving your environment more pleasant and odor-free. Additionally, by including flowering shrubs in your planting plan, you can introduce delightful fragrances for you to enjoy, particularly in the springtime.
In a well-planned, well-developed landscape that includes private spaces enclosed by flowers and shrubs, people are happier and calmer. A pleasing, personal yard where the intrusive effects of unwanted sensations are minimized has a calming effect. Good landscape design creates the sense that everything in a yard is intentional, and you are in your own space. It offers a sort of cleanse for the nervous system – and in today’s hectic world, we all need that.
If you’ve been thinking about investing in a landscape design project, our eBook: Expert Guide to Planning the Landscape Design of Your Dreams, is full of valuable information to help you get started.
All images ©Morgan Howarth Photography except as noted.