As a homeowner, spending time in your backyard with friends and family is something you look forward to, especially in warm spring and summer months. Whether you want to plan a family cookout or kick back in your favourite lounge chair, creating a backyard landscape design with adequate privacy and a comfortable atmosphere can have a big impact on the enjoyment of your outdoor activities.
Outdoor living spaces are popular features for most homeowners, but rising real estate prices have made houses with large yards less affordable for some. As the demand for outdoor spaces grows and large houses occupy small lots, backyard privacy is at a premium. Take a look at landscape design ideas that will create maximum privacy and enjoyment in your backyard.
We discussed a few ways to achieve backyard privacy in our previous blog. Now it’s time to talk more specifically about what types of trees for privacy in your yard. Each yard has its unique situations, so not every tree suggested will work best in your backyard. Think about your site requirements and what size tree you ultimately want as it matures. This will help narrow down which type of tree or trees that will be perfect for you to achieve desired privacy.
As you walk into your backyard after a long day, you’re instantly transported to a peaceful, green oasis. …until you hear the dog barking two doors down or see your neighbours strolling over to interrupt.
Sometimes, we want to get away–without having to leave home. That’s why a Davey blog reader asked for help making her backyard more secluded and advice on how to plant a privacy border. Finding the right duplex build is an important decision. Check out our range of the best home design constructions at MJS Construction Group.
Below, we’re sharing design tips and the best Spartanburg trees to plant for privacy and noise reduction.
Solid Privacy Fences
Building a fence is a common solution for privacy in a backyard landscape design. A six-foot fence quickly provides a visual buffer between properties. It provides maximum privacy and noise reduction with a smaller footprint than shrubs and plants. A fence is a good solution in a side yard where privacy is essential, but space is limited. Although a fence can be built from various materials, a solid board fence in wood or vinyl composite will provide the best privacy for your backyard. To soften the structure, you can add an open lattice or baluster top to the fence and a variety of plants and flowers at ground level.
Semi-transparent fences may not provide as much noise reduction as solid privacy fences. Still, they add a lot of visual interest to your landscape and allow natural light and breezes into the yard. They create a comforting sense of containment and a buffer between your backyard and your neighbour’s yard. If you choose to install a semi-transparent chain link or open weave fence, you can create more privacy by adding climbing vines or trailing plants to the fence or along the fence line. Within a few years, you will have a solid wall of greenery that hides the fence completely, but you will have to keep it properly trimmed to prevent unsightly overgrowth.
A stone wall will add maximum privacy and unique visual appeal to any style home. With a variety of materials to choose from including granite, marble, limestone, slate, stacked stone and flagstone, it’s easy to build a stone wall that complements the materials on your house, as well as your backyard landscape design. Your stone wall cost will be higher compared to building a fence, but it will last a lifetime with minimal landscape maintenance. To reduce material and labour costs, construct a shorter stone wall, about four feet in height, then add a two-foot wooden lattice or fence to the top. A lighter material on top will soften the hard edges of the stone and give the wall a unique style. If your home’s exterior is wood or siding, a lattice or wooden top will tie the two structures together.
If you have a small backyard, a tall, solid fence or stone wall may feel too confining for your outdoor space. Defined areas like small patios and terraces, decks and outdoor kitchen areas can be easily screened with open panels, trellises and arbours. By building an enclosure around your outdoor spaces, you can create privacy for outdoor activities and entertain without creating perimeter boundaries around your property. Open panels, trellises and arbours allow you to create maximum privacy with climbing vines, hanging baskets and colourful flowers. Garden structures provide an appealing, affordable option for backyard privacy in small spaces.
If you dare to be different and appreciate the beauty of art, you can design a unique mural wall that will provide privacy and a stunning focal point in your backyard. A mural wall can be as creative as you are. It can be built in concrete, wood or metal and covered with beautiful artwork, colourful ceramic tiles or pieces of interesting rocks and stones. It can reflect a sleek contemporary feel to enhance modern architecture or a comfortable, nostalgic feel to enhance traditional or rustic architecture. A mural wall is a unique way to add privacy, style and atmosphere to your backyard landscape design.
Although you may not be able to see your neighbours, you may be close enough to hear them when you’re in your backyard. Suppose you’re in a neighbourhood where houses are built on smaller lots and close together. In that case, you may even hear intrusive noises like barking dogs, buzzing air conditioner compressors, televisions, stereos and conversations. By adding an outdoor fountain to your backyard landscape design, you can mask unwanted noises and replace them with the soothing sounds of nature. Depending on the size of your yard and your budget, you can build a custom outdoor fountain or purchase a pre-made model. When choosing a fountain, note that the further waterfalls, the louder it becomes, so choose a fountain size and style that provides the right amount of noise reduction and privacy with a soothing level of sound.
Whether you have a structural fence or not, a green screen or living wall of plants is a great way to create a natural barrier between your backyard and your neighbour’s backyard. It can create a visual break, establish property boundaries, provide a buffer for noise and wind, hide unappealing views, soften the edges of hardscape walls and fences and create a sense of intimacy and privacy.
Planting deciduous shade trees is a good way to obscure a neighbour’s view from a second-story window or terrace. Typically, they grow from 25-feet to 60-feet high, depending on the species. When planted near a property line or in the backyard, their large canopies provide privacy, as well as good shade in hot summer months. Deciduous plants usually lose their foliage in late fall and winter, so during these months, the trees’ bare branches allow the sun to shine brightly into the house for added light and warmth. Evergreen plants will act as a buffer and barrier and provide maximum privacy for your backyard landscape design year-round.
Shrubs and Hedges
Shrubs and hedges provide excellent privacy for backyard settings, whether the yard is large or small. Where space is tight, for side yard areas, for example, fast-growing columnar evergreens like Italian cypress and arborvitae can provide a simple solution for separating adjoining yards or blocking sight lines out of windows where privacy is essential. Unlike fences and walls, shrubs and hedges can provide a year-round privacy screen, and they’re not typically restricted by city ordinances that limit their height. If you plant a privet hedge, it’s best to plant individual shrubs at least 12 inches apart and bring soil up to the branching trunk. For the first year, hedges will require proper irrigation to survive. To thrive year-round, shrubs and hedges should be properly trimmed as needed to prevent overgrowth and dead growth.
In larger yards, planting a mixture of deciduous trees, as well as shrubs, evergreens and perennials create a natural look for your backyard landscape design. Stagger evergreens in the background and the foreground, step down the height with deciduous plants and perennials that provide different heights, textures and colours. Layering your planted areas creates better depth and visual impact in the yard. It also allows you to replace seasonal, smaller plants when they die with a variety of new seasonal plants in different colours, shapes, sizes and textures. This creates an easy way to change your privacy requirements throughout the year.
Raised planters and container gardens will add height while creating good volume, proportion and privacy in your backyard. You can design a series of container gardens that define your property boundaries and establish a visual buffer between you and your neighbours. If you prefer a formal, symmetrical look, each container can be filled with identical plants. If you like a more casual, asymmetrical look, fill the containers with a variety of plants that offer different sizes, shapes, textures and colours. For easy, year-round maintenance, plant native, low-maintenance plants, shrubs and ornamental grasses like blue fescue, dwarf arborvitae or fragrant lavender and rosemary. At MJS Construction Group, we have the best dual occupancy selection to make your house a dream come true.
Vertical gardens are popular ways to create maximum privacy in urban areas where homeowners have small plots of land or no land at all. However, they can also be used in spacious backyards. They can be grown easily on wooden trellises, open panels or metal grids that have structured support systems. Vertical gardens can support climbing vines, annuals and perennials and herbs and vegetables. Whatever the style of your home, you can design a vertical garden that enhances that style, as well as your backyard landscape features. A vertical garden will add height and depth to your yard while creating the privacy you need to enjoy the outdoors.
When you’re trying to maximize privacy in your backyard, it’s best to invest in larger plants for your backyard landscape design. You may be tempted to buy plants in gallon containers that are on sale in a local nursery, but you will be waiting a long time for those small plants to provide any privacy for your backyard. It’s better to buy fewer plants, but larger plants that will have an immediate impact on your outdoor privacy needs. For quicker results, choose plants that are four-feet or five-feet tall, but pay close attention to growth patterns and care and maintenance requirements.
Movable screens provide an easy, affordable solution for privacy around patios, decks, porches, outdoor kitchen areas and pavilions. Screens can be designed and built in a variety of materials, patterns and colours to enhance any backyard setting. Solid screens will provide maximum privacy, as well as protection from sun, rain, wind and noise. Open screens will provide light and ventilation for overcast and hot days.
If you plan to entertain year-round, it’s important to create a backyard landscape design that offers privacy and protection from the elements. You can create both by installing outdoor curtains or draperies that can be opened and closed as needed. With a strong interest by today’s homeowners in outdoor living spaces, it’s easy to find outdoor draperies in a variety of beautiful colours, textures and patterns for every lifestyle. Fabrics are specially treated to resist stains, fading and water, so they’re the perfect solution for outdoor areas where you want to create privacy.
Trees for Privacy
When most people think of trees for privacy in a backyard setting, they might think of the predictable and over-used hedge of arborvitae that has been eaten from the ground up by deer as far as they can reach, or the row of white pine with branches all over the ground in winter often breaking under a heavy snow load. While admittedly, these are fast-growing and great for privacy, and sometimes great for certain situations, there are quite a few other options that we think are worth considering instead.
Trees for privacyMagnolia Grandiflora, Southern magnolias are what the name implies, a southern plant. But there are a few varieties that can do well in our area with some protection from winter winds and can give amazing privacy due to their large, beautifully glossy evergreen leaves. They also have the bonus of gorgeous, fragrant white flowers starting at the end of spring and blooming sporadically through summer. They work best in a mixed garden with other privacy plantings to give them some protection, but be sure to give them room since they can get large. Check out ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’, and ‘Little Gem’ for their hardiness to this area. ‘Little Gem’ is significantly smaller and may also be trained as an espalier or on a trellis against a wall or fence.
Prunus laurocerasus schipkaensis, Schipka Cherry Laurel is worth mentioning for those of you who have a shadier backyard because they prefer filtered sun. These large shrubs can get to be up to 10’ high or more, and just as wide or wider. When you have dappled light and conifers won’t be happy in your partly shady area to provide the year-round privacy you want, these can be just the right plant to use.
While deciduous means that the plant will lose their leaves in winter, they can still make great trees for privacy during the months that you use your backyard the most. They also tend to give you more seasons of interest with fresh spring growth, sometimes flowers, and lush foliage during the summer and typically fall colour. Some might even have interesting bark to provide winter interest as well.
Metasequoia glyptostroboides, commonly referred to as Dawn Redwood is a very fast-growing, large, unique tree for privacy. This tree is a deciduous, coniferous tree that appears quite like an evergreen, and offers the bonus of amazing fall colour. They can tolerate damp areas, which makes it a perfect tree for an otherwise tough spot. Make sure to give it plenty of room since it can reach heights of 70’ to 100’ tall. A favourite Dawn Redwood of ours is ‘Gold Rush’ which has soft golden foliage and is a bit smaller reaching 50’ tall by 20’ wide in twenty years.
Amelanchier Canadensis, Shadblow Serviceberry is a native multi-stemmed large shrub/ small tree that can provide quite a bit of privacy during the warmer months. It has beautiful white flowers in spring before the foliage leaves out, and amazing fall colour come autumn. Other attributes of these trees are they are very adaptable to various soils, will tolerate full sun to part shade, offer edible fruit which attracts birds, and have no serious insect or disease problems. Size varies with cultivar, but the average size is 25-30’ tall by 15-20’ wide, which makes this versatile plant a nice fit in many situations.
Lagerstroemia, Crape Myrtle is often a multi-stemmed tree, is also grown sometimes in single trunk form. Most of the time, we choose to climb up the multi-stemmed plants to at least knee or waist height, depending on their size, to provide the best view of their beautiful bark. They can still give you a sense of privacy by giving you a barrier between you and your neighbours and are especially nice near a seating area or within good view because they flower from mid-summer through fall. Depending on the variety, size and bloom colour can vary greatly, and some also offer dark foliage and beautiful fall colour.
Trees For Containers
Unfortunately, there aren’t many trees for privacy that you can plant in containers and expect to leave in for years on end without much care. Typically even dwarf trees will eventually outgrow their space and need to be replanted in the yard. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it a try, though. Trees in containers give a dramatic effect and can help you obtain privacy in areas that you wouldn’t typically have enough space to plant a tree, or the ability to, for example, on a patio. You can also reuse your container-grown trees in another location in your yard after a few years when they start to outgrow their pots.
Cryptomeria japonica, Black Dragon Japanese Cedar would be a good choice for an area in full sun to part shade. They don’t get too big, are compact with a mature height of only 10’, have nice form, and stay evergreen with tiny cones. The only issue maybe is that they are hardy to zone six which, although is the zone we are in, for longevity in containers you should choose something one zone hardier. This means that in the winter you’re going to want to keep it out of harsh winds and provide it with some water when temperatures go above freezing to prevent winter burn. Side note, these make nice foundation plants and other types of Cryptomeria that grow much larger work great as privacy trees in the yard. Finding the right Melbourne home builders is an important decision. Check out our range of the best home design constructions at MJS Construction Group.
Trees for privacyHibiscus syriacus, Rose-of-Sharon is another nice small tree or large shrub for containers. Depending on the variety, they are available in various sizes and flower colour. They are dense for maximum privacy and can take a good pruning back in case they become too large. They are also very hardy so you won’t have to worry about winter being too severe in our area for their survival in a pot in full sun to partial shade. They also have beautiful flowers in summer that attract butterflies.
While these are just a few recommendations of trees for privacy that we highlighted, there are many more. Not every tree works perfectly in every yard, and you might have different soil or light requirements then the trees we listed. Don’t be afraid to do something different from the neighbours and add more interest to your yard while also providing privacy.
When Is The Best Time To Plant A Privacy Border Or Implement My New Garden Design?
Planting in fall and spring is best! So, start planning a season or two before you want to plant.
“The sooner you start planning your new garden design, the better! People are surprised by the amount of time and planning it takes to turn a design idea into a reality. So, if you want to renovate your garden next spring, talk to your landscape designer this fall or in winter.