There’s nothing like sitting back and relaxing in your garden, that is until… the head of your friendly neighbour pops over the fence. No one wants to be overlooked in their outdoor space and fortunately, there are many ways to create privacy.
Whether you’re looking for fence cover-up ideas, ways to add height to an existing fence or clever ways to use plants for privacy, we’ve put together a list of creative ideas to ensure you can sit back and unwind in private.
Types of privacy fences
There are several different types of privacy fences to choose from. Traditional-style, tall wooden privacy fence panels are one of the most popular options. Constructed without any gaps, wooden fence panels are durable, attractive and perfect for privacy.
It’s worth bearing in mind that solid boundary fences shouldn’t be more than 2 metres high, for higher fences you’ll need planning permission. Natural privacy fences can be higher, so if you’re wanting to block out a neighbouring garden that’s on a higher level, this might be the way to go.
Although traditional fence panels are attractive, there are other ways to stop the neighbours from peering into your garden. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some more imaginative ways to create a secret garden hideaway.
Privacy Fence Ideas
If you’re overlooked in your garden or peered over on your patio, keep reading to discover how to create the perfect, secluded haven with imaginative privacy fencing.
Add height to an existing fence
If you’ve already got a fence in your garden but it’s a little on the low side. You can easily create some extra height. Here are some handy fence extension ideas:
1. Add trellis panels
Trellis panels are an inexpensive, really effective and attractive way to make a fence higher. They’ll make a good screen as they are, but for extra privacy, you can grow climbing plants over them. Try sweetly-scented honeysuckle or vigorous clematis for pretty coverage, you can also buy evergreen varieties of these plants.
2. Use fence post extenders
If your fence has support posts, you can extend them with purpose-built post extenders or attach taller wooden posts to which you can affix trellis, wire or small fence panels.
3. Fit trellis wire
An inexpensive and easy way to add height to a fence is to insert tall bamboo canes or small stakes into the ground directly in front of the fence and string trellis wire across them. You can then grow plants up the fence and along the wire. Jasmine, honeysuckle, wisteria and grapevines are all good, fast-growing options that are perfect for adding privacy to a fence.
4. Attach composite or metal fence screening panels
An attractive alternative to wooden trellis or fence panels is composite screen panels. You can purchase these in a range of different designs and sizes. The main advantage is that, unlike wood, they’ll resist damage from sun, rain and frost.
5. Affix reed screens
Reed or bamboo cane screens are made from natural materials and usually come on a roll. You can easily attach them to an existing fence by screwing or stapling them into place.
6. Fix wooden privacy fence toppers
As the name suggests, fence toppers are specifically designed to sit on top of existing fences. You can choose from various wooden designs or opt for long-lasting metal railing toppers.
Add height to a wall
If you have a low wall in your garden, you can easily extend its height to prevent prying eyes.
7. Add fence panels
Probably the easiest way to add height to an existing wall is by fitting fence panels. Fence panels can be securely attached to the top of an existing wall for added privacy. You don’t have to stick to plain fence panels, attractive fence on top-of-wall ideas include slatted fence panels and durable composite panels.
8. Fit trellis or slatted panels
Just as you can add trellis panels to an existing fence, you can create extra height on a wall by fitting trellis or slatted panels. Trellis panels don’t have to be the traditional square lattice design, you can also buy attractive diamond pattern trellis, slatted trellis and stylish decking panels in a range of designs.
Privacy fence ideas with plants
One of the best and most beautiful ways to make a privacy screen in your garden is with foliage. Many climbing plants are vigorous growers and will ramble their way up a fence or trellis in a matter of weeks. Some types of clematis can climb over 20 feet in just one year!
There are so many benefits to adding plants to your garden. From helping to keep it cool on hot days, to providing shelter for living creatures, plants are an important part of every garden.
9. Create a green wall fence
Fence panels are easy to install, super practical and hard to beat in terms of privacy. However, if you live in an entirely fenced garden, it can feel a little stark. Green walls, also known as vertical gardens, consist of a series of planters fixed to a fence or wall that includes a mixture of plants.
You can incorporate trailing plants like ivy and strawberries, introduce bright colours with lush green ferns and flowering plants like lobelia, fuchsias and busy Lizzies, and add fragrance with deliciously scented herbs.
10. Place plants on top of an existing fence
Another easy and effective way to create privacy with plants is to fix planter boxes along the top of your fence and grow plants like grasses, evergreen buxus or whatever you fancy.
You don’t have to buy expensive planter boxes, check out our handy article on building a plywood planter box.
11. Grow a living fence
Also known as hedgerows and fedges, living fences have been around for centuries. Usually constructed from plants like beech and willow, they won’t provide an instant privacy solution, but in a year or two, you’ll have a beautiful, natural fence that will easily outlast traditional fence panels.
You can buy ready-woven fedges and starter kits or weave your own design. Living fences are also a great option for gardens that have irregular boundaries or aren’t level.
12. Plant pleached trees
Pleached trees are grown into a specific shape using a frame. These trees provide an excellent alternative to fence panels and can be planted in front of existing fences to add height. Photinia, laurel, magnolia, ash, beech and chestnut can all be pleached. You can pleach young trees yourself for a cheaper option, or buy ready-pleached specimens.
13. Use tall bamboo plants
One of the fastest-growing plants on earth, bamboo is a savvy choice for a speedy privacy solution. You can grow pots of bamboo in front of an existing fence to create an attractive screen. Please note that bamboo is an invasive plant so you’ll need to take care to restrict its roots. Plant bamboo in a sturdy container rather than straight into the ground.
14. Grow climbing plants up a fence
Most fences look better with a plant or two climbing up them. You can easily secure a climbing plant to a fence using wire or trellis panels.
Attractive climbers include wisteria (be warned, this beautiful vine is a super-fast grower!), jasmine, roses, honeysuckle, grapevine and clematis. You can also espalier fruit trees like apples and pears against a fence.
Creative fence cover-up ideas
If your fence is a little shabby, or you just want to add interest and a little more privacy at the same time, here are some imaginative ways to cover up an existing fence:
15. Hang planters along your fence
A cheap and cheerful way to cover up a less-than-perfect fence is to cover it with beautiful flowering plants. You can use hanging baskets and flowerboxes to liven up a dull fence. Have a look at our What can I plant in a flowerbox article for some inspiration.
You can also make your own pallet planter boxes.
16. Use natural willow screening
Willow screens come on rolls for easy fitting and are perfect for covering up an ugly fence. You can also use them to create instant privacy if you’ve got open fencing, railings or a chicken wire fence dividing your garden from your neighbours.
17. Experiment with different coloured fencing
Bored with your fencing? Give it a lick of paint for an instant makeover. You can choose from a wide range of wood finishes to give your fencing a facelift. Dark colours look incredible next to foliage or go for light, bright shades if you want to create a sunny, Mediterranean-inspired garden.
18. Hang fabric along a fence
Another way to quickly cover a fence that needs some TLC is to use fabric. Canvas shade sails or panels are sturdy and ideal for creating privacy.
DIY Privacy fence ideas
If you need to create some seclusion on a budget or just want a more original privacy screen, have a look at our creative DIY fence ideas:
19. Pallet fence
Wooden pallets are perfect for upcycling into fences. They’re usually made from good-quality wood and you should be able to get hold of them relatively easily. Left untreated, a pallet will last for around 5 years but you can easily extend this by using a suitable wood preservative.
There are many projects you can do with pallets, check the rest of our pallet garden ideas.
20. Multi-level privacy fence
Fences don’t have to be straight and often, fencing on multi-levels can create a wonderful focal point. Consider using a combination of fence panels, raised beds with tall plants and trellis panels for maximum impact.
21. Willow hurdle fence
Natural willow hurdles are one of the most attractive fencing options but willow fence panels can also come with a hefty price tag. Consider weaving your own willow fence panels for a rewarding DIY project.
22. DIY trellis
If you’re feeling creative, you can make your own trellis panels. This is a great idea if you want to create custom-sized pieces and you can also make trellis screens which you can move around as needed
23. Privacy screen planter
If extending the height of your fence isn’t an option, you can use garden planters to create privacy. Free-standing planters can have a tall fence panel or trellis attached to the back of them, providing an instant privacy screen.
24. Vertical planter wall
If you’ve got some wood and chicken wire to hand, you can build a custom-sized frame and attach the chicken wire to it, onto which you can hang planters, or grow climbing plants.
25. Pergola next to a fence
If it’s tricky to add height to an existing fence, you can build a freestanding pergola next to the fence, up which you can grow climbing plants. A pergola or a gazebo is a perfect privacy solution if you’re overlooked by neighbouring houses.
26. Sleeper fencing
Versatile, tough and rustic there’s so much to love about railway sleepers. You can use them for many garden projects, but they make especially attractive fences.
How to cover the fence for privacy?
There are many ways to cover a fence for more privacy. One of the most effective ways is to attach trellis panels and grow climbing plants up it.
You can also attach planter boxes to a fence or use willow or bamboo screens which are easy to fix.
How to make a fence taller for privacy?
You can extend the height of an existing fence by using fence toppers, extension posts and trellis panels.
How to get privacy in an overlooked garden?
If your garden is overlooked, one of the best ways to get privacy is by adding structures that you can grow climbing plants up and over. Pergolas and arches are excellent options. You can also use foliage to screen out any windows that might overlook your property which can be a common problem in newbuild developments.
Adding trellis or fence panels to existing fences and walls will give you adequate privacy and is a relatively inexpensive solution.