Privacy ideas for backyard
April 24, 2012 9:32 AM   Subscribe

Need ideas for privacy in my new back yard. I have a fence between us and the neighbors, but it is already at maximum allowed height. My deck extends all the way to the side yard at the fence so when I am standing on the deck, the fence is only about 4' higher than the deck and doesn't really hide the next yard. I don't want to do anything to the fence because the neighbors own it.

I am going to plant some trees in the side yard where there is no deck, but that will take a while to grow. What kind of privacy screens can I get to put on my deck? It has to be wind proof, and winter proof. (Canada weather). I thought about putting some evergreens in planters, but it might be expensive and I don't know which ones will grow well in planters and be tall enough. Another idea I had was to build some sort of planter thing with lattice above for vines to grow on, but it might look bad in the winter. Also, bare lattice doesn't have a ton of privacy. I'm also open to any specific products or pieces of furniture that I could buy, my deck is really big. Thanks!
posted by photoexplorer to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
you should investigate bamboo. lots of varieties grow well year round (even in canada) and they grow quiet quickly up to a length required for privacy... i've found that although not a $50 solution its also not terribly expensive if its a limited area you want to cover.
posted by chasles at 9:50 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

A privacy screen can be as simple as privacy lattice with a frame, or you can be fancier. There are some nice designs on the bottom of this page, for example. Putting low power lights on them or hanging planters off them are nice ideas too.
posted by bonehead at 9:54 AM on April 24, 2012

Can you build a pergola on the deck? You could get an umbrella that tilts (most do this). Seems like that would work in the side yard or on the deck.
posted by mattbucher at 9:55 AM on April 24, 2012

I was going to recommend bamboo, as well. Although, you need to be careful how you plant it. It is very invasive, so you need to dig out the area you want it to fill, and fully line it with something that will last and not let the bamboo root through - like a double-layer of 40 mil epdm rubber liner.
posted by rich at 9:57 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh dear god, please don't plant bamboo. Invasive is not mealy strong enough of a word. Your neighbors will hate you when it starts to take over there yard. I would put up some kind of lattice and then plant some kind of climbing vine in pots.
posted by ihadapony at 10:15 AM on April 24, 2012 [9 favorites]

There are several non-invasive varieties of bamboo that would be perfect for your purposes, and that won't elicit unwarranted over-reactions from your neighbors or online advice-givers.
posted by Aquaman at 10:20 AM on April 24, 2012 [10 favorites]

Another idea I had was to build some sort of planter thing with lattice above for vines to grow on, but it might look bad in the winter.

Do you mean it would look bad because the vine would go deciduous? I think if the lattice looks nice, you'll be fine.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:21 AM on April 24, 2012

For a new small condo that went in next door, we, along with the neighbour we're attached to, negotiated with the developer to have a proper living willow fence put in for privacy. This is its second year, and it's pretty great, even in winter. If you can build a decent size container and structure for it, you should be able to keep it manageable. I have a willow tree in a container in my yard grown from a single pussy willow branch that I rooted in water quite a few years ago, and it's been fine, though I'm taking it down this year while it's still under the bylaw size and using its branches to make a structure (like the Arbour).

We also use a larger angled umbrella to screen us from the neighbours if we want to sit and talk quietly, and I have a water feature to mask some noise (as do they). Those things also help.
posted by peagood at 10:43 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, I was thinking a dried up vine would look ugly in the winter. I'm in Calgary, so the summer is pretty short.
Bamboo sounds interesting, does it really grow well here? Don't worry, it would be in a planter, not in the garden. The area where I would most like the privacy is at my deck, near the fence, and unless I cut out part of my deck there is no ground to plant in. So I'm thinking a built-in planter along the edge with a tall lattice. Something that looks nice even when the plants are dead.
Has anyone tried evergreen trees or bushes in planters? Would like something that would be around 6' high when in planter. The bottom doesn't need to hide anything, since the fence would be around 4' high.
Angled umbrella is a good idea, but I definitely get a lot of wind so it would need to be opened and closed each day.
The living willow fence seems great, I'll have to read more when I have more time :)
posted by photoexplorer at 10:47 AM on April 24, 2012

We tried Euonymus as an evergreen solution, but found it too slow-growing. After 6 years, it's just now 5 or 6 feet high. Bamboo in planters worked for us. It wasn't an instant solution, but it is filling in nicely and is really, really tall--this year's shoots are easily 12 feet, and still growing.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:52 AM on April 24, 2012

I hung outdoor curtains* on my cul-de-sac-view patio. It's a little bit of a bitch in the wind, I had to rig them several different ways until I found a system that would let me disengage them when it gets nasty out, but the rest of the time it gives me shade with air movement and privacy. If you have or built a pergola or arbor, you could hang them from there.

*Cream-colored shower curtain liners. Now that I've got the concept worked out, I'll probably buy nicer shower curtains, which are still cheaper than "outdoor curtains", which are functionally no different from shower curtains.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:14 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go to a garden center and talk with them about what vining plants are evergreen and winterhardy for your area. English ivy keeps its leaves all winter, but especially when it's planted in a container, an especially cold season can kill it off. Also, some things are evergreen in southern zones but deciduous farther north; since you're in Canada, I don't know what to recommend, but someone at a local nursery might have some good ideas.
posted by aimedwander at 11:22 AM on April 24, 2012

at my last place I put up lattice and planted ivy along the bottom - it took maybe 2 years to really grow over the lattice and give full privacy, but once it did it was gorgeous, and stayed green in winter. it's the wall on the right here. the lattice by itself did provide a fair bit of privacy, and maybe you could plant something faster-growing like morning glory to fill in temporarily while waiting for the ivy to take hold.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:12 PM on April 24, 2012

Would ivy stay green in the winter or die off? Calgary gets kinda cold. We are apparently in between zones 2 and 3.
posted by photoexplorer at 1:23 PM on April 24, 2012

Also, just wondering if we would have enough sun for the living willow fence. It would be planted on the north side of a fence, so it might be too shady.
posted by photoexplorer at 1:32 PM on April 24, 2012

Would ivy stay green in the winter

I think it would - though I live in toronto, so it's a fair bit warmer here in the winter. A little googling brought me here, which may have some good answers for you.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:54 PM on April 24, 2012

« Older Fabric softener begone   |   Help me find someone to make me a custom picked... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.