How to add privacy to the top of a short fence

Whether you live in an area with a homeowner's association that enforces height restrictions for fences, or you don't want to invest in building a privacy fence, you can still add seclusion to your yard. If you're a do-it-yourself fan, you can use trellises, screens, plants or trees to help with the task.

Purchase a trellis to attach to each section of your fence. Trellises come in a variety of heights, shapes and styles from plastic to wood. Pick a style that matches your existing fence and your personal taste. If you want to use narrow trellises, you can fit more than one per section.

Determine where you want to attach the trellises to the fence. In order to create space between the trellis and the fence, which you'll need to plant vines, use small nails or staples to attach thin strips of lumber, called tilling batten, to the fence. The trellises will connect to these strips, so you want to position them accordingly.

Attach the trellises to the tilling batten with nails. You don't need to secure every part of the trellis, but you want to secure it so it won't fall over in high winds.

Consider how quickly you want to add privacy to the top of a short fence. Plant nurseries classify vines and other spreading plants with a growth rate of slow, medium or fast, with fast covering the most area in a growing season. Some vines, like black-eyed Susan or morning glory, can cover a trellis in one growing season.

Choose vines or plants compatible with your hardiness zone. Nurseries include the hardiness zone information in the descriptions for plants. The United States National Arboretum maintains a Department of Agriculture (USDA) map with hardiness zones, and Arbor Day provides a tool to look up your zone, based on postcode.

Plant your vines at the base of the trellises. Follow any directions you receive with regard to spacing. Dig a hole large enough to fit the vines and water the hole. Place the vine in the hole and cover it with soil to the top of the roots. To maintain your vines, water them on days you don't get rain. As the vines grow, wrap them around the trellises to encourage vertical climbing.

Find a screen that reaches the height you want to add. Manufacturers use a variety of materials, including split cane, bamboo and heather to create rolls of screening material. Select the material you want to use and roll it across each section of your fence. You can secure the screen to the fence with staples.

Transplant plants like pampas grass to the area directly in front of your fence. There are several plants that reach a height of 6 to 8 feet in a short amount of time. If you want to add privacy in a hurry, purchase mature ones from a plant nursery. Your other option is to plant seed and wait for it to grow.

Plant horizontally spreading trees like purple weeping Japanese maples or crab apples. Follow the planting instructions with regard to spacing when you plant trees. Trees may not cover the entire area in the first growing season, but over the years, they will fill out.