How To Create A Sense Of Privacy In Your Backyard Or On Your Balcony

When it comes to outdoor space, every square inch counts. Here’s how to make it feel more private—like it’s your own little oasis.

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Even if you can smell what your neighbour is grilling, you still want to maintain that illusion of privacy.

Create a green screen

backyard privacy created with greens line this hanging gold plantar from homesense
Gold hanging planter, $20, homesense.ca.

The easiest way to create more privacy is adding greenery. “It’s a much softer look and adds dimension to your space,” says Caitlin Black of Aloe, a landscape design business in Vancouver. And because fences can be only so high (i.e. not high enough) in most municipalities, plants can add the height you want. “Creating a second layer through plantings really cozies up the space, and also gives a noise buffer,” says Black.

backyard privacy created with greenery, like this Ikea Dracaena Marginata potted dragon tree
Dracaena Marginata potted dragon tree, $20, Ikea.

Cedar hedges offer a year-long dense green wall; deciduous trees provide more diffused privacy and light. In smaller yards and on balconies, planters can create tall privacy shields. “If your planter is two feet and you’re planting a four-foot hedge, all of a sudden you have six feet and it’s only taken up about two feet on the ground,” says Black. She recommends yew or privet hedges, clumping bamboo, or camellia. For a more instant solution, try smaller hanging and potted plants.

Planting a garden with shrubs and flowers of differing heights, including climbing ones along the perimeter of your yard, creates a greater sense of depth. To further blur here your space ends and your neighbour’s begins, use branches overhanging from their yard to your advantage.

Block the view

backyard privacy created with an Aloe balcony privacy screen on a condo balcony
Photo, Janis Nicolay/Aloe.

A privacy screen, like this freestanding custom-built one by Aloe Design, shields the view of your neighbours.

backyard privacy-Shade Sail overtop of a deck set with a table and chairs

In cramped city quarters where neighbours can see your backyard from their windows, a shade sail or umbrella can provide privacy from overhead onlookers, and protection from the sun. Premium quadrilateral shade sail, from $375–$815, Shade Sails Canada.

backyard privacy-HomeDepot trellis provides a place for plants to grow and block the view

Much like a privacy screen, a trellis can create a wall where there wasn’t one before. To block the view through it, grow a vine or use S-hooks to hang tiny buckets of potted herbs. Peak Products 72-inch x 20-inch Twilight Trellis, $60, The Home Depot.

backyard privacy-Ikea-Gratistel curtains in mint green block the view on a porch

Hung around a porch or pergola, drapery can really make an outdoor space feel like another room of your home. Opt for outdoor fabrics, durable polyester and inexpensive styles that can take the elements. Set of two Gråtistel lace curtains, $15, Ikea., $20, Ikea.