How to Landscape for Privacy - dummies

How to Landscape for Privacy

By The National Gardening Association, Bob Beckstrom, Karan Davis Cutler, Kathleen Fisher, Phillip Giroux, Judy Glattstein, Michael MacCaskey, Bill Marken, Charlie Nardozzi, Sally Roth, Marcia Tatroe, Lance Walheim, Ann Whitman

One challenge in landscaping is to provide privacy while creating an enjoyable and useable space. The landscaping plan here uses both plants and fencing for privacy.

When carefully selected and placed, plants can help screen neighbors, muffle noise, and create interest and beauty of their own. Remember, too, that plants eventually can grow much taller than a fence — if height is what you want. When reviewing this privacy planting, consider the following:


  • Use fencing for privacy. Use solid stockade fencing for a high degree of privacy. Otherwise, use a more open type of fencing with vines.

  • Create a private patio. A free-form surfaced patio with fieldstone, brick, concrete pavers, pea gravel, or mulch, gives an informal look.

  • Use a mix of plants for privacy. Evergreens are mixed with deciduous plants for screening. Evergreens provide year-round privacy, but deciduous plants may work fine for you because their foliage blocks views during spring and summer when you’re most apt to use the space. Keep in mind the eventual heights of the plants you choose. The taller plants in this plan generally reach 5 to 8 feet in height.

  • Pay attention to the shape of plants. The rounded, enveloping shape of the planting creates a feeling of extra privacy.

  • Use deciduous and evergreen plants for screening and extra privacy. Your local nursery can offer several good choices beyond those shown here.


Out of sight of neighbors and passersby, the back yard is the place where every family member wants their own pet projects — flowers, vegetables, a swing set, croquet, horseshoes, horses — whatever. The backyard plan, shown here is for lucky homeowners with a big back yard, but you can choose to duplicate only a portion of this yard, if yours is smaller. Different activities are allotted their own, defined space, but without high dividing fences. The big, green lawn provides plenty of play space as well as visual relief for the more complex surroundings. Note the following about this back yard plan:


  • Divided patio: The two-level patio makes the spaces seem more intimate.

  • Safe play area: The children’s play area doesn’t need fencing (except for the backdrop of side yard fencing), and you can see playing children from the house and patio.

  • Shade trees: A big tree near the patio provides shade at just the spot where you want to spend your summer days. More strategically located shade trees make the children’s play area comfortable in hot weather.

  • Privacy shrubs: Big evergreen and deciduous shrubs form privacy screens along the property lines.

  • Well-located vegetable garden: The vegetable garden basks in the yard’s sunniest spot — away from trees. The fence and raised beds add an element of structure that makes the garden more presentable during its off-seasons.

  • Seasonal color: A border of perennials and shrubs provides seasonal color right where you can see it most — at the edge of the patio. Select plants that are low enough not to cut off the view.

  • Container flowers: Annuals and perennials grow in containers to brighten corners of the patio. Choose pots that are 12 inches in diameter or larger, and cluster them in groups of at least three.