Creating a Private Retreat When Your Neighbors are Too Close
Spending time in your backyard is one of the perks of enjoying the warmer weather. Relaxing on a hammock, reading a book, or spending time with family and friends are great ways to enjoy your outside space in the privacy of your own home – except when that privacy is invaded by peeping neighbors or open spaces. Today, larger homes are being built on smaller lots, leaving homeowners feeling as if they are living in a fishbowl. Homeowners searching for backyard solitude have discovered some unique privacy solutions (as well as some old standbys) to create a peaceful and private retreat.
Here are some ideas to beautify your backyard while keeping your space under wraps:
• Privacy Planting – Property-line planting is a beautiful way to create a natural year-round fence or screening around your side yard or where space is at a premium. Privet hedges and fast-growing columnar evergreens like Italian cypress and arborvitae are perfect solutions for separating adjoining yards. For larger yards, mixing and staggering deciduous or evergreen trees, shrubs and perennials is a creative way to conceal a neighbor’s view from a second-story or terrace.
• Container Gardens – These are perfect for creating a natural screen around a raised deck seating area. Pots should be lightweight or raised on casters so they can be easily moved for parties or deck repairs. Mixing colors, textures and foliage types is a fun way to add flair and character to your seating area.
• Fences – The quick fix when you need privacy in a hurry (like after installing a new pool, patio or playground), but this may require pulling a permit. Fences (such as the common 6-foot wooden board fence) may be the best solution in a side yard or where space is tight, since they require less space to install than planting trees or shrubs. Although board fences may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, they are available in different styles and can be stained to match or complement the color of your house. Planting flowering shrubs in front of the fence or adding an open lattice top can distract from the solid appearance of the fence and add more character to your outdoor space.
• Stone Wall Topped with Fencing – This is a perfect combination of masonry and charm. A 2-3 foot stone wall is a great way to distract from sight lines, while the mounting of a shorter 3-4 lattice or picket fence on top adds extra privacy with a lighter feel.
• Masonry Walls with Ornamental Ironwork – The placing of 5-6 foot masonry walls of stone or stucco can feel less oppressive by the inclusion of cutouts decorated with ornamental ironwork.
• Panels and Pergolas – Small defined areas like patios, outdoor kitchens and decks are typically easier to screen than an entire yard. Enclosing them can recreate an intimate feeling of dining or entertaining indoors while still enjoying your outdoor space.
• Lattice Wood Panels – Cozy corners can be transformed into a secluded haven by installing lattice screens or sections of ornamental iron.
• Using Fountains to Buffer Noise – Even if you’re not in earshot of your neighbors, you may still be close enough to hear intrusive noises that range from traffic to loud AC compressors. Adding a fountain can mask unpleasant sounds with the soothing sounds of trickling water.