Do you think of your garden as an outdoor room? At this time of year in particular, our gardens work hard to give us extra space for outdoor dining, family garden games, entertaining, and simply relaxing in the sunshine.
Using our gardens more can make us feel the need to create some privacy. Unless your house is situated in a large, detached plot, your garden is likely to be overlooked in some way. Even if you get on well with your neighbours, you may still want to relax and enjoy your outdoor space without an audience.
If you’re trying to create privacy in a family garden, it’s important to bear in mind the practicalities before you settle on a preferred option. For example, you may have large play equipment to work around, or young children that you need to be able to keep an eye on from the house. Once you know which areas of your garden you’d like to make more private, you can take a look at the various ways of doing it. Here are some privacy-creating ideas to help you get started.
If you’d like to create privacy in an unobtrusive way, hedging is a great option, as it will blend in with your other plants effortlessly. Hedging also provides shelter for wildlife, gives some protection from noise, and can be a relatively low-cost option. As well as providing privacy, dwarf hedging can also be used to protect plant borders from the kids!
As with trees, hedging can be slow-growing, so it’s not a quick privacy fix. Hedging requires regular maintenance in the form of trimming, and as it’s a living screen there is also the risk of it failing to thrive, which can cause security issues as well as look unappealing. For busy families the time required to take care of hedging can be too much, and can often prompt the decision to replace garden hedges with fencing.
Fencing is a really popular option for creating privacy in family garden. It’s durable, is available in a range of heights, can be tailored to fit the space available, and gives your garden additional security. By nature, a fence is a very linear structure in the garden, but you can easily soften the effect by growing flowering plants and shrubs next to it.
Wooden fencing requires regular maintenance to keep it looking good and preserve the wood, which isn’t always ideal for busy family life. Metal fencing such as this one from Colourfence is a good alternative, as it offers all the benefits of wooden fencing, whilst also being very low-maintenance. There are some really attractive designs available, and you have a variety of colours to choose from too.
Brick or stone walls offer similar benefits to fencing and require minimal maintenance, but they can be a costly option. Consider too that a wall is a very permanent structure in the garden, so you need to be sure that you’re happy for it to be there long-term.
As with fencing, you can soften the overall look of a wall with plants. Brick or stone walls are also great for growing climbing plants, as you can easily attach trellis to them and they will comfortably bear the weight. Another option is to go for a low wall which is topped with either fencing or railings; this still creates privacy, but feels more open and allows more light into the garden.
Trees are a great way to create privacy in a family garden; they provide a very natural-looking screen, and also help support your local wildlife. You do need to make sure you choose the right tree though.
Deciduous trees (which lose their leaves in Winter) are great if you mainly want privacy in the warmer months, as their bare branches allow more light into the garden in Winter. Evergreen trees will provide a year-round screen. For small gardens, choose a tree with an upright shape, rather than spreading branches; you can also trim all branches below head height to increase the usable space in your garden.
If you’re looking to create privacy fast, you’ll need to buy larger or fast-growing trees. When choosing a tree, make sure you’re happy with the final size that it will grow to.
Screens are great for creating privacy on a smaller scale, so if you’re happy with some of your garden being overlooked they’re a good option. Screens offer a low-cost, more temporary form of privacy; they’re ideal if you think your garden layout or style is likely to change.
You can use screens to enclose a particular area of the garden, rather than an entire boundary, which makes them brilliant for a family garden where you need to be able to keep an eye on the kids. Patios, play areas and very overlooked spots are perfect candidates for screening.
Screens are available in a wide range of styles, including lattice, louvered panels, canes and decorative iron. If you choose a fairly open style of screen you can grow climbing plants up it, which has the added benefit of increasing your available gardening space.
If it’s the full ‘outdoor room’ effect you’re after, a pergola combined with some screening will give you a really private space. Pergolas can be free-standing, which makes them fairly simple to install, and by adapting the level of screening and/or climbing plants you can have full control over the amount of privacy provided. The shade created by a pergola can be really useful in south-facing family gardens, as it gives you plenty of space to keep the kids out of the sun at the hottest time of the day.
As well as their practical function, pergolas can be a really beautiful addition to a garden, providing a real focal point. You can use them to create lots of visual interest, with climbing plants, hanging planters, or fabric screens.
Creating privacy in a family garden can feel rather daunting, but if you start by considering the way you actually use your garden, it will be easier to identify the best solution for your own outdoor space. And don’t be afraid to combine more than one option to create the best overall effect. Which privacy options would work best for you?