Once upon a time, neighbours lived in relative harmony. Central to the pact was the fact one could relax in peace in their garden. Ah, it was a much simpler time. Then, the couple to the right elected to clear the giant oak tree that had been there for centuries. To the left, the Smith’s new extension has an elevated platform with sumptuous views of your property. All of a sudden, you feel like a regular weekend is turning into an episode of the Truman Show.
Now, lashing out and creating a rift that will last for decades is tempting. In fact, it’s downright cathartic and should carry a doctor’s seal of approval. Sadly, feuding with the Joneses and the Smiths is not a savvy move because it can make life hell. What you want to do is add privacy without crossing the line.
The following is the Fort Knox of backyard privacy advice.
Photo by SUTTIPONG SURAK on Unsplash
Erect A Fence
No one said the tips were going to be subtle or elegant. Regarding a fence, there is nothing delicate about erecting a wooden monstrosity that reaches ten feet into the air. Still, you are well within your rights to build a barrier as long as it doesn’t encroach on their property. And, because it’s a fence, there are no privacy issues for the neighbours on the other side. What are they going to say – they feel like they live in a goldfish bowl?! For a real sense of loneliness, don’t use wooden slats because they leave gaps. Go for panels as the blocks fill all of the space so that no one can see through. You can use a different material but metal is cold and stone is time-consuming and expensive.
Plant For Privacy
Okay, okay, okay – starting a passive aggressive boundary war isn’t in your wheelhouse. Fear not because there are less obvious ways to make a statement. Plants, for example, are thick, luscious, and grow to a very high height. Trees are the same but they take decades to reach their true potential, the lazy gits! What you want to do is choose shrubs which are notorious for being bulky and chunky. That way, it’s hard for anyone to see into through the leaves, stems and vines that merge as one. Where space is tight, consider planting evergreens or privet hedges as they grow in columns. For advice on how to cultivate shrubs, you can check out this instructional video. Remember that planting and adding water are only the basics and there are many more bases to cover.
And Layer Them
Privacy is important but so is the style of the garden. No one wants to live in a house that represents a prison, people. Fences and high hedges imply a ‘you-have-zero-rights’ kind of feel which is a bit depressing, to be honest. The best gardens strike a balance between aesthetics and privacy, and yours can do the same too. Start by planting hedges and shrubs, but put them towards the back of the garden nearest to the boundary. Then, if the plot is big enough, add layers of plants and flowers towards the front and plant them in odd numbers. As they grow, they should create a natural blockade while the flowers add colour and texture. Don’t be tempted to plant too many because they will struggle for space and die. Small gardens will struggle with this method, but larger yards should have the room to pull it off without much fuss.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Block Off The Decking
A modern exterior usually has a garden and then a decking that is separate. Outside spaces are popular these days because homeowners can add a roof and still use the area in the winter. The problem is that the decking is open and everyone can see you enjoy a good book or a family meal. Don’t play around with the format because you want to keep the structure. Instead, consider installing a temporary barrier such as curtains. Yes, a simple rail can obscure the whole neighbourhood’s view of your property and they don’t cost a fortune. There are lots of choices, yet ready made curtains
are savvy options as you don’t have to wait. For the lazy homeowners, you can get an automated set that closes with a single press of a button. These are perfect for smart and modern properties which use technology throughout the house.
Another option is to take the decking off the ground and put it in an elevated position. Sure, the Smiths and the Joneses will have something to say, especially if they think their privacy is at risk. But, there is no real answer if they already have a feature in their garden which violates your retreat. Plus, it’s harder for them to escalate the issue to the council because the authority might take down both decks. All you have to do is build a platform that lifts the wood off the ground and makes it harder for the neighbours to spy! Or, and this is clever, you can add a balcony to one of the rooms that look out onto the yard. As a rule, terraces aren’t seen as against council regulations and should be legitimate. Don’t be afraid to get sneaky, baby!
Remember that privacy isn’t only visual but vocal. You want to be able to speak without being heard, and that isn’t possible when property lines hug. Sadly, there isn’t much you can do but try and mask the sound of your voice. How? You can start by adding water features throughout the area. The sound of H2O should prevent anyone from listening to or being able to hear every word. A tip to keep in mind is that water is louder the farther it falls and travels. So, a tiered fountain can be extra noisy. Just don’t go overboard or else you won’t be able to hear yourself think.
Privacy is pretty simple when you have barriers, curtains and fountains. Do you have any tricks you would like to share?