Garden privacy screens

Our gazebo provides us with an instant garden privacy screen

Let’s face it, most of us love the idea of owning a garden where you can fully relax and unwind without feeling you’re overlooked. However this can be hard to achieve, especially if you live in terraced or semi-detached housing. But help is at hand. In fact, I’ve discovered there are a whole host of garden privacy screen ideas out there. This way, you can achieve an element of privacy outdoors, whether you want to enjoy some time alone or entertain friends. So, follow my guide filled with top tips on garden privacy screen ideas. You can even discover what the husband and I have achieved in our outdoor space so far:

Garden view in summer
This is a great shot of our garden last summer before we began more planting this year

Summer’s coming

Now is the perfect time to work on creating your own private retreat. So, come summer, you can enjoy the fruits of your labour. This way, you’ll be able to make the most of your outdoor space! Believe me, creating a beautiful enclosed area in which to relax can be achievable for all. So, if you plan to spend more time in your garden again this summer, why not ensure you’ve got plenty of privacy now? There are so many options when it comes to garden privacy screens…think fencing, trees, shrubs, grasses, sails and gazebos. In fact, planting can really help to soften your scheme, encourage more wildlife and it will look gorgeous, too. Just don’t forget to water everything!

My garden

Garden when we moved in
This was the garden when we first viewed the property. This shot was taken by the estate agent (hence the pic is grainy). It’s amazing to see what it looked like before we had our kitchen extension! The shrubs and trees you see on the left had not been planted in our garden and most of these have been removed since we moved in. This left us with a blank canvas to create our very own retreat

When we first moved in, our garden was, pretty much, a blank canvas. We had a pond covered with irises, bamboo, a pear tree, lilac and a mock orange. And we had a few fruit trees and some shrubs, too. So, we have had our work cut out for us. In fact, we continue to work on creating a retreat, which we can enjoy for years to come. However, my garden is also my workspace. So, as I’m there 24:7, I need a private space in which to concentrate my mind on writing. This is where I had my garden studio installed, so it’s fabulous to enjoy some peace and quiet here, too.

Pick the right fencing

garden privacy screening ideas chain-link fencing
Look at the state of our fence we inherited. That old chain-link just had to go! Here, you can see the work we were doing at the time to install a path

We inherited a chain-link fence, which was old and damaged. In fact, there were so many reasons why it had to go. I love hedgehogs and this type of fencing can give them horrific injuries. And it was waist-height, which left us without privacy. So, we installed attractive close-board fencing for an instant way in which to create a garden privacy screen. We even asked for hedgehog holes and can now use our fence as a backdrop for shrubs and climbers so it’s perfect!

garden privacy screen ideas with fencing
We installed this close-board fencing after the trees and shrubs had been removed from the neighbouring property. This provided us with a great base to make our own retreat as we have started planting our own trees and shrubs. Here, you can see our completed kitchen extension and work underway to create a garden path

Willow fencing was another idea of mine. However, I felt we would need the same fence on either side of our garden to achieve the look I wanted to create . I think this style can create a beautiful boundary fence and can help you create a stunning cottage-style garden. You’ll benefit from immediate aesthetic appeal and, if you’ve got plenty of space in your garden, I just love the natural curves you can achieve with this design, too.

willow fencing for garden privacy screen
I must admit this willow fencing is absolutely gorgeous – try WonderWood in Cambridgeshire as they are renowned for creating bespoke willow fencing at any height including this example here

Choosing your trees

I think trees are a fabulous garden privacy screen idea. However, I suggest you choose them wisely. Would you prefer an evergreen so you can enjoy year-long foliage? Or are you happy to have a deciduous version, which will seasonally shed its leaves come autumn? The latter can be ideal if you’re looking for a sanctuary in the summer months alone.

For my garden, I’ve chosen two trees, which soften our outdoor space beautifully and will encourage wildlife, too. If you’re looking for instant privacy, I would advise you consider the height of your tree carefully. If not, you may need to wait for a few years before your garden privacy screen will take effect.

ornamental pear tree for garden privacy screening idea
I absolutely love my ornamental pear tree, which is attracting so many bees to our garden. We are growing various shrubs against our fencing, to hide the post and rails. So, this way, our neighbour could benefit from the ‘good side’

I chose a Pyrus Calleryana Chanticleer pear and it looks stunning! I ordered a 3m version and the husband got to work! He dug a hole twice its width and added a tree planting kit and irrigation system. This really was a great purchase from Ornamental Trees and it now gives us privacy on our patio area. The small tree flowers from April to May and the foliage turns vivid red before falling. In fact, the leaves don’t tend to fall till November. So, this way, we can enjoy privacy most of the year.

Pyrus Calleryana Chanticleer pear for garden privacy screen
This Ceanothus Trewithen Blue tree behind our bird feeder makes the perfect evergreen garden privacy screen and it’s attracting more insects into our garden too

I was so pleased with this buy that I decided to look at more garden privacy screen ideas on offer. This time, I wanted to buy an evergreen to block the view from a neighbouring window. Eventually, I chose a gorgeous Ceanothus Trewithen Blue from Ornamental Trees. This version is 3m high and I don’t believe it will grow much higher. But that’s not a problem because I chose it to create an instant screen. We used the same method to plant this, without an irrigation system, because the soil in this area tends to retain moisture well. It’s flowering now and will do through to June. But what I really like about it is that it’s very popular with bees and butterflies!

Garden privacy screen ideas with shrubs

Choosing the right shrubs can give you another quick fix to create an instant garden retreat this summer. Now, my shrub of choice tends to be Photinia Red Robin. It’s evergreen and can reach a height of 4m, with a similar spread. I love the red tips you’ll discover at this time of year, then the masses of flowers in June. It also rarely needs watering. So, if you tend to forget to switch on your hose regularly, this could be the perfect privacy shrub for you! I picked this one up (below) at The Place For Plants and it is doing so well.

Photinia red robin
Our Photinia red robin looks so healthy – I love the red-tipped leaves at this time of year

Choosing grasses for your garden

Bamboo is another option if you want to instantly create a screen in your garden. However, I would proceed with caution. We already have bamboo, which has been planted by the previous occupants. In fact, we are lucky because it appears to be the non-invasive clumping variety. I think it’s always best to do your research before you buy or you could come across spreading problems. But bamboo is a plant, which can provide you with an attractive, inexpensive way to create a fast-growing garden privacy screen.

Bamboo in pots
I love our new black bamboo – we will divide it and put it in planters when it’s advised to do so which is at the end of this year

So, I’ve just invested in a number of bamboo plants. They look incredible and I’m going to divide them at the end of year and put them into planters. I’ve deliberately chosen a non-invasive, clumping variety called black bamboo Phyllostachys Nigra, which I found at Seagrave Nurseries. I absolutely love it and there’s currently 40% off so, what’s not to like? However, this deal finishes at the end of April, so you’ll have to be quick! I want to keep my bamboo in pots, so I can move them around if necessary to ensure they are in the best position.

Hedging heaven

Hedging can be a great way in which to hide a high fence for a softer finish and Escallonia is another one of my favourite shrubs. It’s pretty, an evergreen with luscious, glossy, green leaves and beautiful flowers in late spring and early summer. I chose dark pink and the bees absolutely love them! These provide the perfect hedge and they grow quickly too. I ordered mine from best4hedging and the growth rate is on average 20-40cm a year.

Escallonia hedge in garden
Our Escallonia is really growing now – can’t wait to see how high it grows this summer

Other ideas…

You could consider buying a sail. I think these can look amazing and provide a quick way in which to stop feeling exposed by overlooking neighbouring windows. These will give you instant privacy and they can create a stylish focal feature. They are a great way in which to block the sun’s rays, and make a great choice if your plot is small and you can’t add shade-providing plants. The parents have one these days and it looks really stylish, although it won’t protect you from the wind!

Our gazebo provides us with an instant garden privacy screen
Our gazebo provides us with an instant, yet temporary, garden privacy screen when entertaining – we used it here last summer

The husband and I have actually invested in a gazebo for our garden, too. It made absolute sense last summer during this pandemic as we could invite friends and family to our garden, come wind, rain or shine. This ‘pop-up tent’ will provide you with perfect privacy when entertaining. Just add some garden lighting on a summer’s evening and you can enjoy a temporary retreat. We made sure we chose a waterproof version so it will protect you when eating. In fact, it’s so versatile, you can put it up in a matter of minutes. We have a cream version which matches our parasol and measures 2.5 sq m. I also bought ‘sides’ to ensure we can stay in the garden whatever the weather!

I hope I’ve helped you with my garden privacy screen ideas, so you can fully relax in your garden this summer. As you can see, my garden really is a work in progress but it has already been great fun making improvements. And if you’re looking for a more permanent structure in your garden, which can give you privacy, check out my blog on insulated garden rooms.

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