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Backyard privacy ideas you can do on a budget

Backyard privacy ideas you can do on a budget
Posted at 10:25 AM, Mar 22, 2024

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There’s nothing more relaxing than spending time outside in your backyard. That is, unless your backyard lacks privacy. If you have nearby neighbors, it can feel like you and your family are on display every time you step into your yard.

While upgrades like installing a privacy fence can quickly add up, there are plenty of more affordable ways to add privacy to your yard. These 10 backyard privacy ideas work for many different price points, and they’re all relatively easy to implement, too. Whether you need a solution for that one area in your yard that lacks a fence or you need to add privacy to the entire perimeter, these ideas can help you come up with practical, economically priced solutions.

Install a Freestanding Privacy Screen

Sorbus 8 Panel Room Divider

$85 (was $200) at Amazon $123 (was $160) at Home Depot

Diane Kuthy, founder and Lead Gardening Expert at How to Grow Everything, has a decade of gardening experience and manages a five-acre property with various privacy features.

“For instant privacy, especially in a small space, the best solution is to install a privacy screen,” says Kuthy. “These are usually steel and wood panels which are freestanding, and can be erected right out of the box without any digging or drilling.”

She notes that privacy screens work well for blocking out smaller areas of around 10 to 15 feet.

The Sorbus Six Foot Privacy Screen  is a great example. This enclosure features eight hinged panels  allowing you to arrange the fence to create privacy around a smaller area, such as to shield your patio while you relax on a lounge chair.

Strategically Plant Trees


Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal, has 25 years of experience in the landscaping industry and recommends looking at solutions that can last a lifetime.

“For long-term privacy solutions, consider planting deciduous or evergreen trees native to your area,” he suggests, noting that trees not only provide privacy, but can also improve the air quality and provide a habitat for wildlife. “The key is selecting species that grow tall enough to create a visual barrier without becoming unmanageable,” he explains.

If you buy smaller, younger trees, they’ll be more affordable, but it will take time before they provide significant privacy. In the meantime, Caballero says that you can combine trees with shrubs and smaller plants in a layered planting, creating a more aesthetically pleasing barrier over time.

Choose a Trellis and Climbing Plants

VEVOR Wood Planter with Trellis

$90 (was $100) at Amazon

Pairing climbing plants with a trellis can create an attractive natural backyard privacy screen. “Installing trellises for climbing plants such as ivy or clematis not only enhances privacy as they grow, but also adds a vertical element of beauty to your garden,” explains Caballero.

You can use a trellis to add a taller background to your garden. Consider where you want to install the trellis when choosing your plants. Ivy grows well just about anywhere, including in areas of limited sunlight. But clematis varieties often need at least partial if not full sun to thrive. Once you’ve planted the plants, you’ll need to periodically wrap and guide them around the trellis to get them started.

You can position the trellis along your garden edge to support your growing plants.

Buy Fast-Growing Hedges


Kuthy explains that by choosing fast-growing hedges, you can establish natural backyard privacy relatively quickly.

“The fastest growing hedges, like the American Pillar, grow at around three feet per year and will cover a total of nine feet of height in just two years after purchase,” she says. “Installing a hedge is quite simple, as you just have to dig a hole around the perimeter of your property and plant the hedges about two to three feet apart.”

Create Raised Beds

KING BIRD Raised Garden Bed

$125 at Amazon

While hedges like the American Pillar grow quickly, it will still be about two years before they provide your yard with maximum privacy. Kuthy suggests using raised beds if you’re anxious to create privacy sooner.

“If you’d like to get a jump on height, you can create a row of raised beds that are 12 inches tall,” she says. Position those beds where you want your hedge to be, and plant your hedges in the raised beds. “That will add an additional foot to your starting point,” says Kuthy.

Use a Fencing Alternative

Backyard X-Scapes Split Bamboo Fencing

$71 at Wayfair

While traditional solid wood fencing can be cost-prohibitive to purchase and install, alternative fencing products can be much more affordable.

Drew Mansur, co-founder of Australian home renovation retailer Yabby, explains that adding an alternative fencing material to a fence can add privacy.

“One trend I’m seeing more of is bamboo or reed fencing rolls attached to existing fences or frames,” he says. “They are cost-effective and work wonders to enhance privacy. People like their natural look, and they can be easily installed with basic tools.”

The exact installation method will depend on your existing fence or frame and the material you choose, so be sure to carefully read installation instructions before you make your purchase.

Invest in a Pergola

PURPLE LEAF 11' X 13' Outdoor Pergola with Retractable Canopy

$460 at Amazon

If your neighbors have muti-level homes, you may need to focus on establishing vertical privacy in your yard. While this might cost more money upfront than other methods, if you’re concerned about others’ overhead view, the investment will be worth it.

“To block the views from taller neighboring buildings, you can install a pergola with a retractable canopy for both shade and privacy,” says Mansur.

You’ll need a flat, firm surface, like a deck or a patio, and should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for both assembly and anchoring the pergola down.

Use an Outdoor Sound System

Onforu Outdoor Bluetooth Sound Lantern Speakers

$100 at Amazon

When we think of backyard privacy ideas, we often think of visual barriers, but Mansur highlights the fact that it’s also important to establish sound privacy, too. “Check out outdoor sound systems,” Mansur advises. “They can add a layer of sound privacy and mask conversations, which results in a much more secluded atmosphere.”

A product like these sound lanterns can enhance your backyard both audibly and visually. You can pair the lanterns with your phone to play your favorite music while adding light to nighttime gatherings.

Install Outdoor Curtains

Bonzer White Outdoor Sheer Curtains

$19 at Amazon

Outdoor drapes can add privacy to a pergola and patio, but it’s important to consider your climate when determining if they’re right for you.

“I personally do not recommend drapes or shades in colder climates that get lots of snow during the winter,” says Kuthy. “These solutions must be taken down during the winter because they cannot handle the snow load and could cause your entire structure to collapse.”

However, drapes and curtains could be a great addition to your backyard if you live in a warmer climate. Since outdoor curtains easily mount over a curtain rod, installing them is simple.

Combine Methods


Don’t hesitate to combine several of these inexpensive backyard privacy ideas to transform your backyard into a private space that your friends and family can enjoy. Kuthy recommends pairing plants that provide privacy with a pergola for a natural, aesthetically appealing shelter.

“My favorite way to create privacy from above is to combine vines and a pergola,” she says. “Growing grapes or climbing roses on a pergola and allowing those plants to vine at the top will create natural shade and privacy.”

She notes that not only do these plants grow incredibly quickly, they also have other benefits like growing edible fruit and having a wonderful smell.

When you choose the plants you plan to use, consider whether they’re suited for your location and the amount of care that they’ll require. Kuthy explains that both grapes and climbing roses are perennial, and since they can withstand the cold temperatures in most zones, they’re suitable for many locations.

This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money.