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Patio privacy ideas?

3374 Views 15 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  ktkelly
Hello! First time poster here, though I'm sure I'll return regularly as a relatively new homeowner.

In short, I'm looking for some ideas on how to tastefully add some privacy to my patio.

This is my patio:

If you look to the left, you can see that it's rather close to my neighbors' house:

This is the entrance they use to go in and out of their house, and it's rather exposed to my patio, so I'd like to add some kind of privacy feature.

(More photos: looking right, looking straight back).

A few ideas I've been considering:

  • A garden lattice kind of like this could be nice. However our neighbors' house is up on a hill, so to make any difference, the lattice would need to be like 10 feet tall or something ridiculous.
  • We could plant some trees, but there's not a ton of space between our patio and the start of the hill up to the neighbors' house. Plus we'd likely need to wait a few years before the trees grew tall enough to matter. Also I don't want it to look like we're building a tree wall out of contempt for our neighbors (actually they're very nice) - ya dig?
  • A pergola (or similar) would provide lots of privacy, but I'm wary of blocking the sunlight in front of the french doors or the bay window, and it might look silly centered between the two. Plus I'm not sure how we'd tether such a structure to our brick patio.
I would greatly appreciate any ideas you might have. I'm not looking to spend a ton of money but would gladly pay a few grand if anyone can propose an elegant solution.

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tall skinny pine trees, i forgot what they are called. like these

just tell your neighbor that you have always dreamed of having some of these.
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tall skinny pine trees, i forgot what they are called. like these

just tell your neighbor that you have always dreamed of having some of these.
We call them cypress in Calif. I lived with some wonderful enormous incense cedars which are cypress ( it's kind of confusing). They grew very fast - depends on the type- & smell wonderful. I'm sure you've seen the tall thinner ones lined along roads in photos of Italy.

Another idea might be lattice fences around the patio. Could even enclose the patio. You could grow vines on them. You will be able to see your neighbors but they can't see you as well.

The second photo here is quite pretty. 265 options.
Thanks for the ideas!

Those skinny trees may be the way to go due to their speedy growth rate. I'd just need to figure out the ideal place to put them. The line of sight from the patio to the neighbors' door is roughly in the vicinity of the bird house in my photo. There's not a lot of room there so maybe I'd need to remove a portion of the fence.

I like the lattice idea too since it provides a closer barrier. The closer the barrier, the more coverage it provides. To make it work, it would have to cover at least a portion of both the left and back sides of the patio, meaning I'd probably need to move the fire pit.

Any other ideas/thoughts, let me know!
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Personally, I think the more solid the tree (like the Cyprus), the more it looks like you're trying to block out the view, whereas there are trees that grow somewhat rapidly and are not as dense which provide enough privacy without being so... overbearing.

We've used something called a Silver Sheen tree ( which offers the best of both. I don't know if it grows well in your area or not, but it's nice because I believe it's drought tolerant as well as pretty fast growing.

Another issue with cyprus trees are that because they are so dense, they capture their own fallout and are havens for insects and spiders. They just become VERY nasty trees if they are not well taken care of, washed off, trimmed, blown out etc.

Another alternative I would like to suggest is a bit of an asymmetrical design combining different ideas such as maybe a tree here, then next to it a tapered or angled lattice with some small vines growing around/on it. Not thick ivy but just enough to provide a little extra privacy and greenery tying it together. When you're doing something one just one area, I've found it looks nicest when you blend varying sized elements together to make it look as little like a solid walled fence as possible- more organic if you will.
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I like the idea of using a sparser tree. You're right -- it would definitely still provide some privacy without being so... hostile. Good to know about the maintenance on Cypress trees as well.

Unfortunately it looks like the Silver Sheen doesn't take well to the climate here in PA, but maybe I can find something similar.
I was going to suggest lattice. It can look nice, and provides instant privacy.
We love our neighbors, but love our privacy more.

Leland Cyprus grow quickly. Line them up in a row about 3 feet in between
then in the space between them put in another about 3 feet out.
in a few years you'll be on your way to privacy.

In the mean time put in a pergola, and on the end of the pergola built
a decorative wall. We have decorative walls on our pergola, not because
we needed the privacy -- as our densly planted property line provides
ultimate privacy, but we wanted to create an outside room.

I'll get you a couple of examples of end walls for pergola.
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If you do a pergola you could build your decorative wall to the left
and right of your end post. After looking at your second pic, I think this is your best option. You don't have to go all the way to the ground eiither, as you can plant some shrubs on the other side of the decorative wall.
Here is ours on the end of the pergola.

I understand your concern regarding blocking light into the Windows.
We used a greenhouse type screening and installed it about three
feet away from the house for that very same reason.

Here is the wall on the end of the Pergola..Note the end post where the yellow
pot of flowers are could put up a corner wall there.


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This is the other end of the house, there is no pergola on this side,
however the wall is attached to the house on the left side for stability.
The top pic is an old pic...the right side is current, we added a rail.
You could do this without having to attach it to the house, however I would
recommend braces in the back.


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You can make a point of getting together with your neighbors. I honestly, can't imagine anyone taking offense to your not wanting close encounters with their garage!!

What is that saying - good fences make good neighbors?

You would be providing them with a lovely view, also.:wink2:
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Another issue with cyprus trees are that because they are so dense, they capture their own fallout and are havens for insects and spiders. They just become VERY nasty trees if they are not well taken care of, washed off, trimmed, blown out et al
It might depend on where you live, also. I've never seen the dirt & bugs you describe. The Santa Ana winds can bring a lot of debris & with the drought causing a lack of rain. . . it's probably different in Pennsylvania :}
One of your posts says you are in PA so you'd have to find a species of tree similar what is being suggested that will grow in your area. The problem I have with cedars is they are mosquito traps (assuming you have them down there). As for a pergola, that's more of a substantial structure that will likely invoke building codes, permits, etc. You would also want to consider how any 'aerial structure' impacts on the light entering the house from that side.

I dislike store-bought lattice (1/4" x 1 1/2" or whatever). I find it flimsy and poorly built. I would research a privacy wall using thicker lumber in a self-built lattice or other decorative open design. You can also incorporate decorative panels into the design. Google 'Paul Lafrance Privacy Walls' - he's a contractor with a TV show that has some really interesting designs.
BTW - nice looking neighbourhood.
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Eunymus grows quickly, although it is a deer magnet. Wisteria also grows quickly and climbs, and it does not need much support. There isn't a lot of space there and any tree in 10 years will overtake the area.
Leland Cypress may not be what you want.

Problems they will, and can have.

1. If planted close together, there will be dead areas where the trees grow together (I believe this is a common issue with most all Cypress trees).

2. They cannot take a heavy snow , or ice, load.

3. Shallow root system makes them prone to fall over in high winds, or under heavy loads.

4. They are not tall and narrow like the Italian Cypress, so they will take up a lot more room.

5. They can, and will, grow to heights of 50 feet (this is not so good).

After having several fall ON my house, I helped my neighbor remove those he had planted.
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