How to create privacy in a garden

garden design

Is privacy in a garden an issue for you? If your outside space is exposed and overlooked by neighbours, there are a few top tips that can help create a garden which feels more enclosed and private.

Privacy under a canopy

Creating a canopy in the garden can be a great way of making the space feel more secluded. Very often in a lot of the urban gardens I visit, privacy is required not only from neighbours adjoining the garden boundaries, but also from the occupants of an upstairs flat. Once you put a roof on a space it instantly makes you feel more secluded. As well as creating privacy from above, and the illusion of privacy from the side, canopies can also provide shade in exposed and sunny gardens. Many of the shade sails currently on the market are super stylish and we frequently get asked about them even where privacy in a garden is not really an issue at all.

Pleached trees

These are my favourite way of screening the boundaries of a garden. I often refer to them as a “heads on a stick”. Pleaching is way of growing plants, usually trees, by training their branches onto a trellis or cane framework to produce a flat, wide head of foliage. There are many varieties of pleached trees available, both evergreen and deciduous. They are fabulous for raising the height of a boundary without falling foul of any bylaws or upsetting your neighbours unduly and can be used to add another 1 – 1.5 metres of screening above a standard 6ft fence. The supply and planting season for pleached trees usually runs from October through to March, unless they are pot grown. Tree species that work particularly well pleached include:

  • Hornbeam
  • Beach
  • Liquidamber
  • Magnolia
How to create privacy in a garden

Pleached trees are a fantastic way or raising your boundary height


I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with bamboo. I think it became very vogue in recent times and has been rather overused in garden design. However, it is still a beautiful plant and grown well can provide a simple practical solution to problems with privacy. Personally, I prefer bamboo grown on its own or with few other plants. It can be a bit of a bully and quite invasive, so this approach works well. Research your variety before planting. For screening select a clump forming variety. If in doubt speak to specialist bamboo grower or supplier. I prefer them with the lower leaves stripped, particularly if your boundary fence/wall/panels are attractive. The bamboo canes are often wonderfully architectural and add another texture to the garden. Like pleached trees they are useful for increasing the height of your boundaries without adding too much to the depth. Perfect for small urban gardens.

Bamboo is great for providing a tall hedge

Bamboo is great for providing a tall hedge


A solid structure can be a magnificent way of creating privacy in the garden. A simple framework can then be adorned with climbers, Perspex, laser cut screens or whatever you like, to transform the area into an outdoor room. If there is a section of your garden where you particularly like to sit that currently feels exposed, this is a great solution. With added screens, panels or slats, it can provide privacy from all angles, including above.

How to create privacy in a garden

Pergolas can be a great way to create privacy when you are overlooked from above

Trellis that isn’t trellis

I can’t stand wooden trellis. There we are, I’ve said it. It is old-fashioned, twee and very dull. However, if you take the essence of trellis as a concept and play with it, you can create something eye catching and bold. In this garden we extended the height of the fence posts and installed several horizontal rows of stainless steel tension wire. We then added lots of little squares of coloured Perspex in a grid pattern between each row to create a unique and rather funky bespoke trellis, through which climbing plants were trained. Examples of other trellis based notions are laser cut screens, stainless steel or weathered steel mesh, or hardwood slatted timber panels. Just about anything that is semi-open and weatherproof can be used to create a more contemporary alternative to traditional trellis.

How to create privacy in a garden

Perspex squares attached to tension wire raise this boundary

Chain curtain

I know, I know. Good right? It really works. If you have a structure in the garden, add some aluminium chain curtain, and then you can have a privacy screen when you need it. It is light and airy, weatherproof and comes in all sorts of wonderful colours. You can also pull it back when you need less privacy to create the illusion of more space. It adds a fabulous dimension to almost any space.

How to create privacy in a garden

Fabulous screen to aid privacy

A planter

If you have a specific spot in the garden that you feel is overlooked, this is a quick and easy way to create targeted privacy. A large planter, containing something tall and evergreen such as a bamboo, will create an instant screen which you can use to plug any gaps where you feel you can be seen.

How to create privacy in a garden

Large Planters strategically placed can plug any gaps

Need more ideas or advice on how to improve privacy in a garden? Please do get in touch.