Even if you can smell what your neighbour is grilling, you still want to maintain that illusion of privacy.
Create a green screen
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.
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
A privacy screen, like this freestanding custom-built one by Aloe Design, shields the view of your neighbours.
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.
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.
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.