Some of us know our neighbours reasonably well, some of us have never spoken to them before, and some of us never want to speak to them again. But, whichever side of that fence you sit on, it’s natural to want privacy now and then. However, if all you have is an overlooked garden, it can be hard to shake that feeling of being watched, even on your own property.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to banish prying eyes and create solitude in your garden for your own personal time or gatherings with friends and family. This is how to make an overlooked garden private without fencing yourself in – literally!
1. Create A Sunken Garden
Sunken gardens are a truly unique way of creating privacy in any style of garden. This traditional English garden structure gets its name because it is set up at least a foot below ground, and you can’t get much more private than that!
Whether you’re a proud owner of an urban garden that gets more attention from surrounding houses than you’d like or just want some extra privacy for your garden’s seating area, a sunken garden will shadow you from surrounding view.
For example, lowering your terrace by just 20 inches will make it easier to develop a sense of privacy. In addition, it will give you the option to plant around your special sunken garden or add some awnings and canopies to provide you with complete cover.
2. Add A Gazebo
A gazebo is a perfect way to get complete privacy in an overlooked garden instantly. With both fixed and pop up options available, you can get a gazebo that will keep you covered all year round or give you and your guests privacy for the odd gathering or two. Plus, a gazebo will fit any garden, no matter the size.
By placing your gazebo between you and the windows of any potential spying pairs of eyes, you will be given total privacy as well as protection from the sun and all kinds of weather. This way, you can enjoy your garden worry-free all year round.
3. Build A Summerhouse
Building a summerhouse or pavilion that backs onto the area of your garden that is most overlooked will create a cosy, open space for you to relax in completely. The walls and roof of the building will block you from view without making you feel closed in or cramped.
You could go the extra mile and hide your new outbuilding behind trees or leafy shrubs to increase your privacy. Not only will this blend your pavilion in with the garden, but it will also add to the sense of solitude.
However, if adding a whole building isn’t suitable for you, there are many charming alternatives. For example, an arbour seat or swinging seat with a cover will be a perfect replacement. Simply place them by your garden boundary, plant a few climbers and perennials around the area, then sit back and relax.
4. Use Climbing Plants
When considering how to get privacy in an overlooked garden, climbing plants could be your new best friend – and a gardener’s dream! Not only are they beautiful, but they are also a natural way of creating privacy and shade. Plus, there are plenty of fast-growing options that can cover a private area of your garden in just a few months. And pairing climbing plants with open, overhead structures, like pergolas and trellises, will provide privacy without causing claustrophobia.
There are two main varieties of climbing plants: self-clinging and twining. As the name suggests, self-clinging types of climbing plants will naturally adhere to walls or fences, whereas twining varieties will require support. Trellises, arches, or simple wooden stakes all make great support for twining climbers.
Some climbing plants are easier to look after than others. However, for easy plants that will grow quickly, we would recommend opting for self-clinging climbers.
Some fantastic climbing plants for privacy are:
- Clematis (Self-clinging) – Fast-growing types of clematis, such as clematis armandi, can be as tall as 5 metres at full height[i]. With beautiful, big flowers sprouting throughout March and April, clematis will give you plenty of privacy without invading the space.
- Climbing Roses (Twining) – Climbing roses will add a traditional, romantic touch to your private space. Thornless varieties, like ‘Cécile Brünner’, can grow up to 4 metres tall[ii], and can be trained to grow over walls, fences, and trellises, so you can spread them all across your garden to shade you from prying eyes at all angles.
- Wisteria (Twining) – Wisteria can grow as much as 10 feet or even more in a single year[iii], and its violet, hanging leaflets create a sweet scent and visual experience. However, all parts of the wisteria plant are considered toxic, so make sure no children or pets come in contact with it, particularly the pods and seeds[iv].
- Climbing Hydrangeas (Self-clinging) – The vines of the climbing hydrangea will cling to any surface, so you can plant them anywhere in any garden. Although climbing hydrangeas can take a few years to establish, their growth will accelerate when it does, and they can grow over 12 metres tall[v].
- Star Jasmine (Self-clinging) – With beautiful star-shaped flowers that crawl rapidly across walls and fences, star jasmine is a leafy climber that will provide plenty of privacy and shade. It can grow up to 9 metres in height and is one of the lowest maintenance climbing plants.
- Trumpet Vine (Self-clinging) – Trumpet vines will comfortably grow in almost any condition, whether it’s blazing heat or freezing cold. However, since it can grow up to 12 metres[vi] rather quickly, trumpet vine can easily become invasive if not kept under control.
5. Plant Some Tall Perennials
Planting tall perennial plants and ornamental grasses around the most used areas of an overlooked garden can add height and structure, which is a great way of gaining privacy for any overlooked garden.
Planting a mix of hardy shrubs, trees, and ornamental grasses will create privacy in an overlooked garden without making it feel smaller or cramped. Plus, plants can block out sound and even smells in a way fences and other structures can’t.
Depending on the size of your garden or the area you want to add privacy to, you will have to consider which perennials will suit your requirements best. However, some beautiful perennial plants that will help create privacy in any garden are:
- Magnolia grandiflora ‘Victoria’
- Cider Gum
- Chinese Privet
- Morning Light
- Malus Evereste
- Silver Birch
6. Try Garden Screening
Fences and other manufactured structures may give you privacy, but they can easily make you feel closed in. If your fingers aren’t as green as you’d like, you can try garden screening for privacy in your overlooked garden without closing yourself in.
There are plenty of different garden screening options you can choose from depending on the design of your garden. For example, a more modern garden may benefit from stylish glass screenings, whereas garden trellises would suit a traditional garden style.
Here are some of our favourite overlooked garden screening ideas:
- Horizontal panel screens
- Reed screens
- Bamboo screens
- Glass screens
- Garden trellisesGrass thatch
- A brush fence
- Plastic hedging
7. Use Privacy Hedging
Establishing boundaries in your garden doesn’t have to make you feel fenced in. Replacing or covering any low walls or flimsy fences by establishing some hardy hedging shrubs could give you the perfect answer to ‘how to get privacy in an overlooked garden’.
Fast-growing hedges will add interest to your garden as well as seclusion. And evergreen hedges will be even better!
If you are planting deciduous hedges, you are best doing this between late autumn and early spring. However, you should plant container-grown evergreen hedges in spring.
Some of the best hedge plants for privacy are:
- Bay laurel
- Cherry laurel
- Shrubby honeysuckle
8. Create Some Shade
Creating shade across your garden will be beneficial in more ways than one. First, of course, it will block your garden from the view of upper storey windows. But it will also protect you from harsh sunlight and heavy showers so you can enjoy your garden all year round.
To enhance the seclusion and connect the entertaining areas of your garden with the rest of the space, you could adorn your chosen shade provider with climbing plants. As long as they have a structure to cling to and additional support, climbers will make a perfect private addition to a shaded spot.
There are plenty of shady additions you can add to your garden, including:
Take a look at more of our favourite garden shade ideas.
How To Get Privacy In An Overlook Garden
Ideally, our gardens would be a naturally idyllic space where we can relax and entertain as we so please. Unfortunately, since this is not the case, many of us are stuck wondering how to get privacy in an overlooked garden. But, hopefully, now you can take back your own garden for as many parties as you can handle!
Do you have an overlooked garden? How have you managed to make it private? Let us know!
Ryan Jenkins is a professional gardener and has been working in the gardening industry for over 25 years. This has allowed Ryan to accumulate a vast wealth of gardening knowledge which he shares on the Sefton Meadows blog.