Creating Privacy in a Small Backyard with Landscaping

A carefully designed and landscaped backyard can be a wonderful place for socializing and relaxing with friends and family. A backyard can also provide solitude and the quiet enjoyment of nature.

However- designing for both group and individual activities often becomes more challenging when there is limited space. You might feel like you’re in a fishbowl with your neighbours looking in, or that your space is not really separated from the surrounding properties.

Creating privacy in your small backyard is often the first priority. More than likely, you do not want your neighbors to have a front row seat for everything that happens in your yard.

Whether enjoying a dinner outside with friends or reading a book by yourself, it is nice to have a feeling of privacy within your own yard. Here are some of the ways that we can help you create a feeling of solitude in your small space.

1. Screening with Shrubs

Planting shrubs to provide screening is a good place to start. You will want shrubs that grow taller than eye level, with a mature height of at least five or six feet.

Planting shrubs in a straight line will result in a formal appearance and may be necessary if your space is really limited or narrow, while a loose or staggered row will look more informal or naturalistic. Though it may require a few more shrubs, it often results in better screening.

Deciduous shrubs are likely to have leaves during the seasons when you will be outdoors the most, but for year round privacy, evergreens will provide the best coverage.

2. Privacy Fences

If you do not want to wait for shrubs to grow to tall enough for screening, you can always install a fence. A wood fence is usually the most effective for screening. Sometimes a hard edge, such as a fence, can make a small space feel even smaller. Just a few scattered trees, shrubs or perennials in front of the fence will add some depth and soften the look.

3. Plant a Tree

Adding one or more shade trees will help your small yard landscaping in several ways. An overhead canopy of leaves and branches can help define your space so that it does not feel so tight and narrow. A tree can also screen views to and from your own house. This provides a feeling a separation that will make your outdoor area feel larger. Select trees that will grow tall and prune the lower branches as they grow. This will give even more height to your space.

4. Partial Screening

Rather than enclosing your entire backyard, sometimes partial screening is all that you need. For example, a fence along one side of your patio may be enough to block the view from a neighbor’s window. A few carefully placed shrubs or small trees can achieve the same result.

A structure such as a gazebo or pergola is another way to provide some isolated privacy. Planting a pergola with climbing, flowering vines can make it even more inviting and turn it into the perfect place for a dining table or an outdoor living room.

If there is adjacent property that does not need to be screened, try to leave that view open. Whether it is the back portion of a neighbor’s yard that is rarely used or a nearby wooded area, borrowed scenery will make your own yard feel larger.

5. Be Strategic in Your Design

Strategically place your outdoor living areas so that you’re able to create a bit of privacy- for example- it is easier to shelter the area closest to the back entrance of your home than to create privacy in a space right in the centre of your yard.

A professional landscape designer can provide great guidance and loads of suggestions for you to increase your backyard privacy and enhance your space for outdoor living.

If you’re ready to take your yard from blah to bliss, we’d love to help!

Download our our backyard design checklist and start planning the backyard of your dreams! 

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