ADU Guide

Backyard Privacy Ideas

It can be hard to achieve enough privacy in your backyard, but it’s possible with the right amount of creativity. Here are some ideas to consider.

CottageJanuary 01, 2018

Your backyard is supposed to be your own personal oasis. However, it might not feel that way if you can see your neighbors from across the way.

Even with your neighbors' curious eyes close by, there are things you can do to make your backyard or patio feel more private. You can try adding natural, physical, aesthetic, and/or structural barriers.

Here are some backyard privacy ideas you can use to transform your outdoor area into a more private space.

Natural Barriers

Your backyard is already filled with nature, so why not add some plants to boost the privacy factor?

Here are some natural landscape barriers you can consider adding to your backyard:

Hedges and Shrubs

Hedges and shrubs are a classic way to make a backyard feel more private with natural materials. Not to mention, there are many different types to choose from.

One crucial factor to consider when choosing hedges for your backyard is height so that they can provide the level of intimacy you’re looking for. You also need to think about how quickly the hedges will grow so that you can achieve a quick transformation with dense foliage.

Some of the best types of hedges and shrubs for backyard privacy include boxwood, arborvitae, and evergreen shrubs.

If you are renting a space like an apartment and can't make permanent changes, you still have options. You can put your greenery in planters or pots to shield your deck, balcony, or even kitchen view.

Trees

If you’re looking to boost both shade and privacy in your backyard with greeneries, trees are a perfect solution. Again, there are countless options to choose from; just make sure you choose something that grows quickly enough. After all, you don’t want to have to wait several years for the tree to reach a decent height.

Some of the best types of trees for backyard privacy include the Italian cypress, willow hybrid, and thuja green giant.

Bamboo

Bamboo is a unique natural barrier that can both block your neighbor's view and also feel truly serene. Bamboo can grow incredibly high (up to 100 feet) and sprout incredibly quickly.

In fact, bamboo is known to double in size every year. You can choose between climbing bamboo or running bamboo.

Physical Barriers

Some obvious solutions to backyard privacy concerns include physical barriers that physically separate your space from your neighbors’.

Here are some examples of physical privacy fence ideas you should consider adding to frame your backyard:

Fences

Most backyards have fences, but some types of fences are better-suited for privacy than others. For example, chain-link fences, while affordable, aren’t going to provide you with much privacy.

Similarly, picket fences are cute, but they also aren’t designed for privacy. High wood fences and vinyl fences with minimal slats are going to provide you with the most privacy.

Looking for affordable or cheap ways to create a partition from your own garden and the outside world? Don't worry; lattice screens/lattice panels can be easily installed with minimal DIY skills.

Walls

If you’re not a fan of a basic fence, you may want to consider more stately walls instead. Adding walls to your backyard is a more permanent and long-lasting privacy solution compared to fences that may need to be repaired or eventually replaced.

Depending on the design of your house, you could add brick or stone walls to match your home’s exterior features for a cohesive and practical look.

Screens

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something more temporary than both a fence and a wall, there are also backyard privacy screens that you can install. These privacy screens are easy to install and adjust.

Those with a more traditional style, there are wooden privacy screens. If you prefer a more modern style and taste, there are metal privacy screens.

Aesthetic Barriers

Adding aesthetic barriers to your backyard can simultaneously increase the “wow” factor alongside the privacy factor.

Here are some examples of aesthetic barriers you should consider adding to your backyard:

Trellis

If you love plants and want to take them to the next level, then you should consider adding a trellis to your backyard. A trellis is a structure that is used to help plants and vines grow vertically. They are usually made out of wood or metal, depending on your preference.

There are tons of different plants that grow well on a trellis, including bougainvillea, morning glory, and clematis. You can even use a trellis to grow food, like pears, cucumbers, vining tomatoes, and squashes.

Pergola

Contrary to popular belief, a pergola is not the same thing as a trellis, although they may share many of the same characteristics. A pergola may also be made of wood or metal, but the main purpose of a pergola is to provide shade with a roof.

In any case, a pergola can perform double-duty if you’re looking for a shade structure and privacy in your backyard. The roof of the pergola can block the views of your neighbors while also providing a nice shady spot to relax and enjoy your outdoor space.

Drapery

If you want to take your pergola to the next level, you may want to consider adding a layer of drapery. Adding drapery to your pergola can take it from a stale wooden structure to a chic statement piece. These outdoor curtains can also block the view of your neighbors and provide you with your own little hideaway.

Just make sure that the drapery you choose is meant for the outdoors so that it stays in good condition and can withstand the elements.

Structural Barriers

Finally, you can achieve more privacy in your backyard by actually adding structures that are designed to block the views of your neighbors. Many of these structures are actually quite useful and valuable, in addition to the privacy that they provide.

Storage Shed

If you’re looking to add more storage to your backyard in addition to more privacy, then you may want to consider a storage shed as a two-in-one solution. Storage sheds are great to have in your backyard as they can be used to store everything from lawnmowers to grilling equipment to toolboxes and everything in between.

Storage sheds are particularly useful if you don’t have a garage or you have limited storage space inside your home. Instead of cramming everything in a closet inside, take full advantage of your outdoor space with a storage shed.

Treehouse

If you want to make your kids’ dreams come true or you’re just young at heart, you should definitely consider building a treehouse in your backyard. Building a treehouse provides you or your kids with a magical and serene space that’s truly unique. It also pulls double-duty as it can easily obstruct views into your backyard.

Depending on your skill level, it may be entirely possible for you to build a treehouse on your own. However, if you don’t have the best construction skills or aren’t quite sure how to go about building a treehouse, you may want to consider working with an expert.

Additional Privacy With an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)

Another way that you can maximize your entire lot while also boosting the privacy in your backyard is to build an accessory dwelling unit or an ADU.

What Is an ADU?

An accessory dwelling unit, also known as an ADU, is a smaller residential dwelling unit that’s located on the same lot as a regular single-family home.

These units can be designed to include multiple bedrooms, full bathrooms, full kitchens, and more based on your needs. As the unit has a separate bathroom, kitchen, and sleeping areas, it’s considered to be an ADU.

Different Types of ADUs

If you’re intrigued by the idea of an ADU for your property, you should know that there are a few different types to choose from, including detached ADUs, attached ADUs, and conversion ADUs.

Here’s what you need to know about each one:

  • Detached ADU: Involves building a unit that’s completely separate from the main house. As a result, building a detached ADU is basically like building another house since you’re doing everything from scratch. And while this may seem like a lot of work, it’s actually quite straightforward with a builder like Cottage.
  • Attached ADU: Involves building a unit that’s still attached to the main house. While building an attached ADU may sound easier than a detached ADU, there are strict code and safety standards that still need to be met.

    Choosing an attached ADU may help you better maximize your space by eliminating the need for setbacks from the main house and lot lines.
  • Conversion ADU: Involves converting an existing space into an ADU by adding a separate bathroom, kitchen, and/or living space. Some examples of spaces that can be easily converted into an ADU include garages and basements.

Can You Build an ADU in Your Backyard?

Your ability to build an ADU in your backyard really depends on where you’re located, as different cities and states have different laws and regulations regarding ADUs. However, in populous states like California, state and government entities have made it easier than ever to build ADUs due to housing shortages and limitations.

In California, single-family homes are eligible for ADUs based on the size and structure of the existing home, though every city allows at least 800 square foot ADUs that are less than 16ft in height and with four-foot property line setbacks. For more information on regulations and restrictions in your area, check with your local housing authority.

Other Reasons To Build an ADU

An ADU provides you with so much more than just privacy in your backyard.

Here are some other reasons why you should consider building an ADU:

  • Increased property values: Adding an ADU to your property will undoubtedly increase the value of your property. Buyers these days see ADUs as a major selling point and are willing to pay top dollar for a property with such a feature.

    When done right, a great ADU on a property can spark a bidding war on your property from buyers who want to reap all the benefits of an ADU for themselves.
  • Income potential: Adding an ADU to your property can also provide you with additional income if you decide to rent it out. If you do decide to rent it out, you can do so on a short-term or long-term basis, though many cities restrict ADU rentals to a minimum of 30 days in length.

    Short-term vacation rentals can generally charge more per night but can also experience vacancies and more maintenance due to constant turnover.
  • More space: Finally, adding an ADU to your property can provide you with extra space. You can then use this space to entertain or host guests.

    You can even have your child move back in or your aging parents to achieve a multi-generational household where everyone is together—but in separate spaces.

How To Build an ADU in Your Backyard

Building an ADU in your backyard may sound like a difficult process, but it doesn’t have to be thanks to ADU builders like Cottage. Cottage is a custom ADU builder that offers a hassle-free process from start to finish—handling everything from the permitting to the design to the construction thanks to our team of architects, designers, and in-network contractors.

We currently service Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, where we have helped homeowners like you maximize their current lots by adding ADUs of all shapes and sizes. Check out some of our recent projects here!

Privacy Please

Thankfully, you don’t have to permanently suffer from your neighbors constantly looking over your shoulder and into your backyard. Now it’s time to get started on the privacy solution that works best for your needs and budget.

If you’re looking for the best return on your investment, then you should consider an ADU that you can potentially rent out for extra income or use to boost the value of your property.

To see if this solution would work for you and your property, reach out to Cottage today for a free consultation.

Sources:

California's New Accessory Dwelling Units Laws: What You Should Know | Forbes

10 Best Pergola Ideas to Upgrade Your Backyard | Family Handyman

17 Fast-Growing Shrubs for Privacy Hedges | The Spruce

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