Cheap Ways to Block my Neighbor’s View into my Backyard
Neighbors, huh? Sometimes, you luck out, and the people next door are kind, reasonable, and more importantly, they don’t try to snoop into your backyard. Some other times, though… well, if you’re here, you probably know where I’m going with this. You need cheap ways to block my neighbor’s view into my backyard.
Let’s make that happen!
Plants to Block a Neighbor’s View
Backyard and plants go hand in hand, don’t they? Often, a touch of strategically placed greenery is all you need for your backyard to become the private space you deserve. That said, it’s always a good idea to find out what your USDA Hardiness Zone is, and choose plants with better chances of thriving where you live.
With that out of the way, here’s a list of green options to bolster your privacy.
While many of us may immediately relate it to Asia, this plant can be found in nearly every corner of the planet (the Americas included), and it is widely popular for the very purpose we’re discussing here, given how fast it can grow—about a full meter per day, in some cases. Bamboo species are split in two varieties: the runner types, as the name implies, can propagate very quickly, spreading into parts of your yard you do not intend for them. The clumpers, on the other hand, are so named because new offshoots stay much closer to the parent plant, making them far easier to control, especially for beginners. It is for this reason that we feel inclined to recommend a clumper species (such as the Oldhamii) for your living screen.
We see them everywhere, and putting one of them in the right place means the neighbors won’t see what they aren’t supposed to; all it takes is for them to be pruned regularly, to your desired height. Here are a few species options, and their potential heights:
- Boxwood hedge plant, great for compact hedges (3-30 ft)
- Cherry laurel, leafy and with pretty flowers ( 15-30 ft)
- Common holly, the plant most of us associate with Christmas (10-15 ft)
Strictly speaking, a trellis is a vertical structure with an open, latticed framework, whose purpose is providing support for growing plants. Whereas, in the past, its applications were purely practical, nowadays the trellis has been gaining traction as a decorative element that can hide an unsightly wall, or—you guessed it—increase privacy.
With this one, you get a certain flexibility in terms of cost: there are some rather aesthetic types, often made in vinyl so they will not decay outside; there are those of more utilitarian make; and then, there’s the more simple solution of using chicken wire, which is not too much trouble to install thanks to the wealth of guidance available on the web.
As he have seen, the trellis is there as a framework. What, then, provides embellishment and privacy? That would be the climbing plants:
- Jasmine. Present in many personal care products thanks to its sweet scent.
- Honeysuckle. Because who doesn’t like hummingbirds?
- Grapevine. Pretty to look at—and with a well-known, juicy yield to boot.
Alternatively, you can opt to procure a few small pots, place in them the plant of your choice (herbs, for example), and then secure them to the trellis in rows, with some wire. The gap between rows can be narrower or wider, depending on the placement you select for them.
This option is useful in that it provides cover from above, rather than from the ground up, which makes it potentially good in tandem with, for example, a hedge.
Pothos, string of pearls, hoyas, these are all plants whose growth expands beyond their pot, eventually cascading downwards if placed in a hanging planter such as this one. For fans of a more natural look, some products come with a coconut liner—although these are known to dry out the soil faster than their synthetic counterparts, and must therefore be watered more frequently.
When we spoke about the trellis, we mentioned it was possible to attach small pots to the structure in order to create a partial screen. This works on the same principle, except because the planters are slightly larger, and they sit on their own dedicated structure, which often comes with wheels so you can roll it wherever you would like. Your options for planting here are pretty varied—herbs such as mint and basil, strawberries and even small tomatoes. It’s a pretty good way to get yourself some privacy, and homegrown produce in one go.
Fence not tall enough? Worried about your neighbors snooping around while pretending to lounge in their second story balcony? Here are a few options that can provide you with a nice, wide canopy that will keep them minding their own business.
- Italian Cypress. Tall and slender, capable of growing up to 3 feet per year.
- Weeping Willow. Up to 50 feet in height, their wide, lush canopy can provide a lot of cover—and shade, too!
- Cherry blossom. Ever seen a Japanese movie or animation? Those ‘sakura’ trees dramatically raining light pink petals? Right here.
Synthetic Green Privacy Options
Many of us like green, but our thumb ain’t it. If this is your case, don’t worry—there are ways to create a privacy screen which looks perfectly natural, but needs no more maintenance than a light dusting or hosing once in a while.
Vertical Plant Screens
The point of these ones is to provide a screen. In some cases, you roll it up and attach it to an existing surface (such as a fence), thereby preventing outsiders from peeking in; other models are essentially a collapsible trellis which you can affix to two pillars (or to a fence, if you so wish).
- AGJIDSO Artificial Ivy Privacy Fence Screen. 2-pc pack. The screens can be joined together by virtue of snap hook backings, which can also be used with zip ties for placing on top of a fence. Maple, sweet potato and apple options available.
- DearHouse Artificial Ivy Privacy Fence. Single piece, offers only ivy leaves; makes up for this by offering a total of 9 sizes (of varying heights and lengths) to select from.
- DearHouse Fence Privacy Screen for Balcony or Patio. Cannot be rolled, only collapsed, as the structure is more rigid. Expandable from a minimum size of 15 x 49 inches to a maximum of 30 x 109.
Artificial Potted Plants
They come in a variety of heights and species, with their own planter which you can then transfer to your own pot so you can set them up exactly how you want.
- Nearly Natural Ficus Artificial Trees. 3-8 ft tall, for a total of 6 height options. Available as a standalone, or with an additional synthetic tree of varying species.
- Outdoor Artificial Cedar Topiary Tree by Silk Tree Warehouse. An option with thicker greenery, also available in 6 heights ranging from 3 to 8 feet. UV rated for outdoor use.
Physical Barrier Options for Backyard Privacy
Here, we’re covering anything you can install, build from scratch, or put up as a premade item. Cost is not prohibitive—after all, we don’t need a moat to block the neighbor’s view.
As long as it is thick enough, and made to withstand the elements, this might be all you need to achieve the privacy you’re looking for.
- Curtains. You can buy them premade or, if you like this sort of projects, get the appropriate fabric and get them done yourself; in this case, a few spritzes of waterproof spray can’t hurt.
- Screens. These work on the same principle as the ones from our synthetic plants section, the difference being that they come with grommets along the rim for you to run zip ties through, so you can affix them to any fence or banister you have between your area and the outside. Usually offer a decent variety of sizes and colors.
A fairly simple and potentially mobile solution. Unlike the screens we have been talking about, these items do not require something to be attached to. You can go for the common, more simple types, or something with planters for an extra aesthetic touch. If you’d rather make do with old stuff you might have lying around, you can always improvise something with decommissioned louvered door or window panels.
Wood & Metal
These options might not be as aesthetically pleasing as many others we’ve covered so far, but they are still effective for our purposes. In nearly every case, the cost is more in labor (yours) than materials. Just be sure to check with any relevant office for the maximum height permitted for a fence.
- Corrugated metal. It’s affordable, lightweight, long-lasting, and it can even help to block noise. Just be mindful of its sharp edges, and give it a coat of paint or rust inhibitor, so it will not rust anytime soon. Aside from the metal sheets, you will need at least some wooden posts to frame it; a quick search will yield plenty of fence ideas for you to experiment with.
- Staggered boards. Got some wood lying around from your latest project? Paint those boards in various colors, slam them into the ground (a line of uneven height is part of the charm here), and you got yourself a quick and easy privacy barrier. You can always add some greenery at the bottom and above to give it some extra charm.
- Tree branches. Instead of throwing them away after pruning that one tree, cut them to appropriate sizes and fashion them into a rustic fence.
Coda: The Not-So-Cheap Options
Our goal here was to provide alternatives that would give you the privacy you’re entitled to, without breaking your bank. Other ideas—such as fountains to block out noise, tiered shrubbery, stone fences and more—will yield the desired results, and likely look very nice while doing so; but their cost will be remarkably higher. For our part, we hope that the present article was helpful to you, and wish you merry times in your cozy, private patio.