The intimate mood of a patio starts to lose its appeal when you know you're in full view of the neighbours' living room window. With a few tweaks to your landscape design, you can enjoy the privacy of your patio and block out eyesores that take away from the beauty of your view without secluding yourself from the rest of the world.
Tall, narrow plants create increased privacy without completely isolating your patio. Plant a few column-shaped plants like white pines several feet apart near the border of your yard to help break up the view. Don't give into the temptation to surround your entire property with these trees. Instead, simply place a short row of them strategically between your patio and the area from which you want to limit the view. If pines don't fit your landscape, use bamboo or clumps of tall ornamental grasses instead.
Many neighbourhood associations permit homeowners to construct trellises higher than they allow fences to stand. If you want to leave your patio somewhat open, use narrow sections of freestanding trellis to limit, but not obstruct, the view from the neighbour's yard. For more complete privacy, put up a full trellis wall on one or more sides of your patio. Train climbing vines like clematis, Virginia creeper, wisteria, English ivy or climbing hydrangea up the trellis for added seclusion. If you only need to block a small space, try erecting a smaller trellis in a large container and allowing a single vine to grow up it.
Instead of making your borders higher, make your patio lower. Dig out an area 2 feet deep before laying the flooring for your patio, and construct a retaining wall around the exposed edges. Mound the excess soil into a raised garden bed in the area where you wish to create a barrier. Use a variety of plants to give added height to the bed. Not only will your sunken patio help draw the eyes downward, but the raised garden bed also will serve as a natural wall to provide privacy.
Benches and Containers
Line your patio with benches, and place a variety of planted containers on top. Not only will the benches give added height to the plants, but they'll also provide extra seating whenever you have guests over. Both you and your neighbours will enjoy the new view, and you'll have the lush, intimate patio you've always wanted. Containers also give you the option to change your plants according to the season or rearrange your plants whenever you feel inclined.
You don't have to section off your patio with the typical landscaping supplies. Look at yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores for unusual items that can help give your yard privacy. For example, try using an old headboard or a strip of antique metal fencing to obscure the view and add character to your yard. Or hinge old window shutters together and stand them up like an oriental folding screen.