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Garden Hacks: 10 Ideas Under $100 to Create Instant Privacy

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Garden Hacks: 10 Ideas Under $100 to Create Instant Privacy

April 11, 2018

Instant privacy is the greatest luxury we can imagine in a world where Facebook sells us out to advertisers, hackers know our credit scores, and our eavesdropping Amazon Alexa lets out creepy, maniacal laughs at dinner parties.

Luckily it’s still easy to create privacy in the garden—without spending a lot of money or time. You can block visual intrusions with inexpensive barriers (panels, screens, planters)—and less-than-subtle sounds with a portable fountain. Lean back in a chair. Close your eyes. Smell the roses. Now, isn’t that better?

Here are 10 inexpensive ideas (all under $100) to create instant privacy outdoors:

Potted Tree on Wheels

My potted fiddle leaf fig tree is on a rolling Socker Plant Stand ($6.49 from Ikea) and is easy to roll around; on the front porch I position it as a barrier against street sounds. Photograph by John Merkl.
Above: My potted fiddle leaf fig tree is on a rolling Socker Plant Stand ($6.49 from Ikea) and is easy to roll around; on the front porch I position it as a barrier against street sounds. Photograph by John Merkl.
See more ideas in 5 Favorites: Rolling Plant Stands.

Rollout Fence

A Willow Balcony Screen made of natural willow twigs is 300 centimeters long and available in two heights (90 and 0 centimeters); from €40 to €60 depending on size at Manufactum.
Above: A Willow Balcony Screen made of natural willow twigs is 300 centimeters long and available in two heights (90 and 150 centimeters); from €40 to €60 depending on size at Manufactum.
See more options at Trend Alert: Instant Rollout Fences.

The Sound of Running Water

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Above: A diminutive, 11-inch-high Bubbling Garden Fountain with Lights made of glass fiber reinforced concrete is $62.12 from Birch Lane.
While blocking a bad view is one obvious way to create privacy, block unpleasant sounds can be just as effective. Close your eyes, focus on the soothing burble of water, and you’ll be miles away from intrusions. For everything you need to know about fountains—from wall fountains to trough fountains to floating fountains—see Hardscaping 101: Fountains.

Japanese-Style Screen

Measuring 6 by 6 feet, a Bamboo Fence Panel is £64.99 from Primrose.
Above: Measuring 6 by 6 feet, a Bamboo Fence Panel is £64.99 from Primrose.
A Japanese-style panel or fence is designed to offer a simple, calming backdrop; made of natural materials such as bamboo or rush, it will disappear into the garden and perhaps make you forget exactly what you needed to block in the first place. For more options, see 10 Easy Pieces: Japanese-Style Fences and Screens.

Translucent Panel

Translucent panels create privacy without blocking light in Remodelista editor in chief Julie Carlson&#8
Above: Translucent panels create privacy without blocking light in Remodelista editor in chief Julie Carlson’s outdoor shower in Mill Valley, California. Photograph by Matthew Williams.

Julie’s architect, Jerome Buttrick, spec’ed Polygal’s co-extruded polycarbonate panels for the outdoor shower. For similar sheets of translucent paneling to mount on a slatted wood frame, 10-foot Clear Corrugated Polycarbonate Panels are $50.72 apiece at Menard’s. Another option is 20-by-30-inch Corrugated Plastic Panels; $4.45 apiece at Blick.

If you’re designing an outdoor shower, start with our guide to Outdoor Showers 101.

Freestanding Trellis

An Expandable Cedar Trellis Kit comes with three squares with pre-drilled holes; $36 from All Things Cedar.
Above: An Expandable Cedar Trellis Kit comes with three squares with pre-drilled holes; $36 from All Things Cedar.
See more ways to use trellis panels to create privacy in Everything You Need to Know About Trellises and 10 Easy Pieces: Garden Trellis Panels.

Railing Planter Box

Evergreens including boxwood, eucalyptus, thyme, and a bay tree hold down the fort for this season’s additions, hydrangeas, pansies, violas, and a sprinkling of oxalis on a London balcony. For more, see Ask the Expert:  Tips to Transform a Tiny Balcony into an Instant Garden with Isabelle Palmer.
Above: Evergreens including boxwood, eucalyptus, thyme, and a bay tree hold down the fort for this season’s additions, hydrangeas, pansies, violas, and a sprinkling of oxalis on a London balcony. For more, see Ask the Expert: 10 Tips to Transform a Tiny Balcony into an Instant Garden with Isabelle Palmer.

Balcony railing planters with hooks or brackets create a natural visual barrier; plant tall flowers or compact trees or bushy shrubs to block the view. See 10 of our favorites at 10 Easy Pieces: Balcony Railing Planters.

Plant Shelf

A multi-tier plant stand to display up to seven plants, a Natural Outdoor Rectangular Wood Plant Stand is $79.38 from Lowe&#8
Above: A multi-tier plant stand to display up to seven plants, a Natural Outdoor Rectangular Wood Plant Stand is $79.38 from Lowe’s.
For more options, you can make inexpensive DIY plant shelves from a few redwood planks and some cement blocks, as my neighbor Linda did, or buy a stepladder plant stand or portable folding plant shelves.

DIY Container Garden on Wheels

 Photograph by Matthew Williams.
Above: Photograph by Matthew Williams.

With a few inexpensive supplies (plus a power drill), you can make your own DIY container garden on wheels for under $100. Roll it around to create instant privacy where you need it the most. For step-by-step instructions, see Container Gardening: A DIY Planter on Wheels.

Outdoor Curtain

An 84-inch-long Outdoor Solid Curtain in natural is $99 from West Elm.
Above: An 84-inch-long Outdoor Solid Curtain in natural is $99 from West Elm.
Are you dreaming of a quiet oasis in your backyard or on a balcony? Start the design process with our Hardscape 101 guides to Decks & Patios, Outdoor Showers, and Fences & Gates. See more ingenious solutions:

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