31 Oct How to add privacy to your garden

Ideally, we would want to have a totally private garden that’s completely shielded from the view of neighbours and passers-by, allowing us to relax or socialise without worrying about being watched. However, for most people, this just isn’t reality.

If you live in an urban area or crowded suburbs, it’s likely that your garden is overlooked. Even if you get on well with your neighbours, this can leave you feeling uneasy and unable to enjoy your outdoor space properly.

Luckily, there are many ways you can add privacy to your garden, even if it’s currently very overlooked. Keep reading to discover 10 easy ways to get more garden privacy.

1. Increase fence height

The most obvious place to start is with your garden fence. If your fence is too low or has a lot of wide gaps, your neighbours will easily be able to see into your whole garden. Making your garden fence higher is therefore one of the most effective ways to boost garden privacy.

When upgrading your garden fence, you need to think about both the height and the visibility between the panels. For maximum privacy, install a fence that’s completely solid, with no gaps between the fence panels. You should also increase the height of your fence so that the average person won’t be able to peer over it. However, make sure you don’t install a garden fence that’s over 2 metres tall – you’ll need planning permission to install a fence taller than this. 

2. Increase driveway gate height

When altering your garden fence, don’t forget about how your driveway gate can improve privacy too. Make sure you increase the height of your gate as well as your fence to create a solid border around your property, preventing nosy passers-by from peeking in.

Just like with garden fences, your driveway gates shouldn’t be more than 2 metres high. However, if your driveway gates are adjacent to a busy road, the height restriction becomes 1 metre unless you have planning permission for your driveway gates. Failure to abide by these rules could result in an enforcement notice (and then a fine if you don’t comply).

3. Install composite driveway gates

If you need to replace your old driveway gates to get more garden privacy, what type of driveway gate should you choose? For maximum privacy, we would recommend composite driveway gates because there are no gaps between the slats, unlike metal driveway gates which feature a lot of empty space that people can look through. Plus, composite gates are much more eco-friendly because they’re made up of materials like bamboo, recycled high density polyethylene and environmentally friendly bonding agents, so you can look after the environment and your sense of privacy at the same time.

Composite driveway gates are incredibly versatile, long-lasting and similar in style to traditional wooden gates, but if you prefer the real thing, wooden driveway gates can also be a great choice if you’re hoping to increase garden privacy. As long as you choose a gate design that doesn’t feature gaps between the panels, your new driveway gate will block the view of nosy neighbours and passers-by. Plus, these gates will safely shield your vehicles from view, making them less of a target for opportunistic thieves.

4. Plant trees and hedges

To beautify your garden and improve privacy at the same time, why not plant some trees or hedges along your garden fence? This is a great idea for keen gardeners who want to spend more time tending to their outdoor space, but there are also plenty of low-maintenance plant species (such as Yew and Cherry Laurel) for those who’d rather plant a garden border and then forget about it. 

These hedge species will just require a bit of pruning and shaping once a year for garden maintenance. Plus, these low-maintenance species are typically evergreen, which means they will protect your garden privacy all year round. And, unlike garden fences, there are no restrictions on how high these trees and hedges can be, so if a 2-metre fence still leaves you feeling exposed, it’s time to get your gardening gloves on and start planting.

5. Install a garden privacy screen

Another way you can use plants to increase privacy is to install a garden privacy screen or trellis around your garden. Once this is installed, you can add some climbing plants and vines to create a gorgeous natural screen that shields your garden and beautifies it at the same time.

To adorn your garden fence, you can install a trellis and climbing plants on top – this will increase the height of your fence and also make it look less stark. However, you should bear in mind that trellises installed on top of your fence are included in its overall height when it comes to planning permission, so the trellis can’t make your fence higher than 2 metres. On the other hand, plants aren’t included in this restriction, so any climbing plants or trees that reach above 2 metres won’t require planning permission.

6. Consider zoning

To make your garden more private, make the most of your outdoor space, and potentially even make a small garden look bigger, you should consider garden zoning. This is when you create different ‘zones’ to fulfil different purposes in your garden, such as a seating/socialising zone with garden furniture, a gardening zone with a vegetable patch, a relaxation zone with a gentle water feature and hammock, and so on. 

But how does this improve privacy? In addition to helping you organise your garden, this technique helps you consider the best places to arrange your garden furniture so that you have maximum privacy. Stand in different areas of your garden and look at the houses around you – can you see into people’s windows or gardens when you stand in these areas? If you can see other people, this means they can see you too.

After doing this exercise, you should have a better idea of which areas in your garden are the least overlooked. Then, you can create more private zones in these areas, such as your garden seating zone. In less private areas, you can place zones that you don’t mind being overlooked, such as a planting zone or water feature zone.

7. Lower your seating area

Is your garden seating area still not private enough? Instead of making your garden fence and hedges even higher, you may benefit from lowering the ground in this zone of your garden. This sunken seating area will be much more private, intimate and cosy – perfect for enjoying your garden with friends and family on summer evenings.

8. Add a gazebo, awning or pergola

If lowering your garden seating area isn’t possible, another great alternative is to install some form of canopy. A more low-key option is to add a parasol to an outdoor table, but if you need more privacy, attaching an awning to the outside of your home can shield this area from both unwanted attention and the summer sun.

Gazebos and pergolas are also brilliant for increasing your garden privacy. These garden structures will prevent any neighbours or passers-by from snooping on your garden gatherings, and they also help you establish clearer garden zones if you enjoy zoning your garden. Pergolas are a great in-between option because they add privacy while still letting in a lot of light – to increase the privacy further, you can add climbing plants to the wooden frame.

9. Install water features

When it comes to garden privacy, you need to consider hearing in addition to vision. Even if you successfully shield your garden from view, other people could still listen in to your conversations.

But how can you soundproof your garden? While this isn’t a perfect solution, installing a water feature can help you muffle noises coming from your garden. Plus, this is a great way to spruce up your garden and add an interesting and relaxing feature.

10. Add garden screening

Finally, you may benefit from adding garden screening throughout your garden, especially if you want to establish distinct zones. These metal or wooden screens can be placed anywhere you want, so if you need to rethink your zoning to take advantage of less overlooked spots, you can easily do this.

These screens are commonly placed around garden seating areas, but you can put them wherever you want. Once you’re happy with their placement, you can also improve their appearance and make them look more harmonious with the rest of your garden by adding climbing plants, just like you did with your trellis or pergola.

Need more garden inspiration? Check out our blog for more garden and driveway tips. You can also get in touch with The Expert Gate Company for any driveway gate advice.