16 Backyard Privacy Ideas for a Quiet Retreat

Create a private retreat with these stylish options

backyard privacy ideas

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

Backyard privacy ideas can be as simple as adding a wall of wood or greenery to building a full enclosure to block out unpleasant views, traffic, or a neighbor's prying eyes. Even if you live in a densely populated urban area, solutions to add privacy to your outdoor space can include unusual items like curtains or balcony balustrades covered with trellis and greenery.

When planning for outdoor seclusion, consider thick plants like yews, bamboo, and even lilac bushes for living privacy fences, hedges, and walls. If you are looking to build a hardscape privacy fence from wood, stone, or metal, check your local ordinances for height and other proximity restrictions.

For inspiration, here are some backyard privacy ideas and expert tips.

  • 01 of 16

    Install Privacy Panels

    privacy screen panels
    Paradise Restored

    Wood fencing encloses this long, wide backyard near Portland, Oregon, and additional wood lattice panels add architectural interest and create privacy. "We always like to add a private retreat in the landscape as an escape for people to have some downtime," explains Kim Thibodeau of Paradise Restored in Portland. "The pathway in front of the privacy screens leads to the retreat."

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  • 02 of 16

    Be Strategic With Plants

    backyard privacy planting ideas

    Home Consultant

    A strategic row of planters filled with fluffy grasses on top of the fence creates a neighbor-friendly green screen that helps add privacy to this Los Angeles backyard driveway turned patio from Home Consultant.

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  • 03 of 16

    Cover Fences With Greenery

    brick wall privacy screen
    Stefano Marinaz Landscaping

    The owners of this stylish formal garden in West London wanted an elegant outdoor space to entertain. Stefano Marinaz of Stefano Marinaz Landscape Architecture framed the perimeter with hedges, while fencing mounted on top of the existing boundary wall added privacy. 

    Fences are an easy and effective way to achieve privacy in a yard, though don't forget to check your local ordinances for height and placement. For fencing materials, Marinaz prefers hardwoods over softwoods. "Hardwood lasts longer; it's like iron," Marinaz says. "It's more expensive than a softwood, but it's more durable and nicer." If you can't put up fencing, consider planting trees, hedges, or vines. Marinaz favors evergreens from the Taxus genus.

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  • 04 of 16

    Hang a Shade Sail or Two

    backyard privacy ideas

    Blanco Bungalow

    If your next door neighbor's house has an extra story that looks down into your backyard, consider hanging a shade sail (or two, or more) to protect you from harsh rays and lookie-loos, like this backyard dining area from Blanco Bungalow.

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  • 05 of 16

    Set Up a Pop-Up Canopy

    backyard privacy ideas

    Design and Photo by Ajai Guyot for Emily Henderson Design

    Add privacy to a backyard driveway dining space with a pop-up canopy, like this space designed by Ajai Guyot for Emily Henderson Design. Curtains can be tied back as seen here or closed completely depending on how much privacy you want or need.

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  • 06 of 16

    Create Zones

    backyard privacy ideas

    Maite Granda

    Create a sense of privacy within a multipurpose backyard space by creating zones that feel like defined spaces where people can gather and feel part of the group while having opportunities to carve out their own space. This Florida backyard from interior designer Maite Granda includes an outdoor kitchen area with bench seating and a slanted pergola as well as an outdoor living room that is raised up a step and flanked with half curtains that give it a sense of privacy without closing it off.

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  • 07 of 16

    DIY a Wood Slat Fence

    backyard privacy ideas

    A Beautiful Mess

    This inexpensive DIY wood slat privacy fence from A Beautiful Mess is painted white, making it nearly disappear while sheltering this outdoor fire pit area from unwanted attention.

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  • 08 of 16

    Incorporate Nature

    backyard privacy ideas

    Desiree Burns Interiors

    Building your deck or patio around an existing tree is good for the planet and will help provide privacy and shade to your backyard, like this tiered deck from Desiree Burns Interiors.

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  • 09 of 16

    Use a Modern Wood Screen

    backyard privacy screen ideas

    Design by Emily Bowser for Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

    A modern wood screen in a geometric laser-cut pattern adds shade and privacy to this backyard designed by Emily Bowser for Emily Henderson Design.

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  • 10 of 16

    Add Curtains

    backyard privacy ideas

    Fantastic Frank

    Fantastic Frank added breezy outdoor curtains to the edges of this backyard dining patio that can be closed to provide privacy as well as shelter from the sun.

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  • 11 of 16

    Build a Private Raised Terrace

    raised dining terrace
    Genus Loci Ecological Landscapes Inc.

    Fences help with boundaries, but they don't always offer privacy. By building a raised dining terrace with high walls — sort of like a permanent wooden screen — the designers at Genus Loci Ecological Landscapes were able to give their Toronto-area clients the privacy they requested in an otherwise exposed backyard. Just make sure such a structure is permitted in your area.

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  • 12 of 16

    Add a Bushy Hedge

    backyard privacy ideas

    A Beautiful Mess

    A Beautiful Mess added privacy in this backyard pool area with a thick well manicured hedge that hugs the curves of the jacuzzi area.

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  • 13 of 16

    Try Budget-Friendly Bamboo

    backyard privacy ideas

    Fantastic Frank

    An outdoor structure, such as a trellis or an arbor, can easily block neighbors' views and add privacy to your yard. But if you have a small backyard space like this Mallorca apartment from Fantastic Frank, inexpensive and easy-to-install bamboo panels will often do the trick.

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  • 14 of 16

    Use Vertical Plants

    backyard privacy ideas

    Design by Emily Bowser for Emily Henderson Design / Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

    Planter boxes with tall vertical plantings positioned in front of the backyard fence in this outdoor space designed by Design by Emily Bowser for Emily Henderson Design create an extra privacy layer and help to muffle sound as well.

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  • 15 of 16

    Heighten the Fence

    backyard patio privacy ideas

    Blanco Bungalow

    Fences are an easy and effective way to achieve privacy in a yard, though don't forget to check your local ordinances for height and placement. Blanco Bungalow topped off a painted brick wall with wood fencing to add extra privacy for this backyard patio that is set up as an outdoor living room.

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  • 16 of 16

    Opt for Partial Cover

    backyard privacy ideas

    A Beautiful Mess

    This midcentury modern-style DIY pergola and geometric wood screen adds privacy to this backyard patio from A Beautiful Mess, helping to block the house next door and to camouflage the car in the car port while maintaining and open and airy feel.

  • How can I make my backyard private for less?

    Adding drapes, a single wall, off-the-shelf decorative panels, or a store-bought gazebo can add elegance, style, and privacy for little cost.

  • How can I add privacy to my yard without a fence?

    For a fenceless, but private yard, add a gazebo in a strategic area of your yard. Pull the curtains when you desire extra privacy.

  • What can I plant to block neighbors' view?

    Plant barriers are beautiful and effective. For best results, try fast-growing poplar trees (if you have room) or arborvitae. But if you have no time to waste, consider bamboo, but check your town's ordinances to make sure there's no restriction against planting this grass that is oftentimes considered invasive.

  • How can I make an inexpensive privacy screen?

    Make a DIY privacy screen out of trellis or fence boards, for example. Check out more DIY projects that use simple materials for a big impact.