Screens Protect Your Patio’s Right to Privacy

Is it getting cooler, shadier, and less buggy on your patio and deck already? We hope so, because all week we’ve been helping you take back the outside with heat-beating misters, shade-makers, and bug fighters.

Today, we’ll help you carve out a little patio privacy from neighbors’ prying eyes and bad taste in music with manufactured or natural screens. You might even find indoor uses for some of these options.

Man-made screens

  • A privacy fence is a permanent and top-of-the-line solution. A 6-footer made of cedar costs $11 to $18 per linear foot; low-maintenance vinyl costs $20 to $30 a linear foot.
  • Make one yourself: Get creative! Anything that stands between you and nosy/noisy neighbors will give you some privacy. A Laguna Beach, Calif., couple filled a wood frame with wood pots they bought from Ikea. They grew herbs in the pots and fashioned their own green wall.

Natural screens

  • Instant green screen: Buy some giant house plants, like dieffenbachia or alocasias, and arrange them in a row on the edge of your patio or deck. Take them inside before the first frost, and put them out again next summer.
  • Seasonal green: Plant some climbers, like wisteria or clematis, in big pots flanking panels of freestanding trellis. The plants will grow up and fill in spaces with beauty and fragrance. A row of sunflowers makes a glorious and lush sound and visual barrier (plus, it feeds the birds).
  • Forever green: Bamboo is thick and quick-growing, but tricky to contain. Dig a narrow ditch in front of plants and mow down shoots that creep over the line. Leyland Cypress — tall, cylinder-like trees — will grow 3 to 4 feet a year and eventually create a towering and evergreen hedge. 

Have your neighbors ever invaded your privacy? Oooh, share!