Sitting in the sun on the verandah sipping a quiet cuppa, gardening without interruption, or having friends over for a weekend barbecue; these all rank high as some of life’s greatest pleasures.
But if you’re constantly disturbed by neighbours who are also entertaining, mowing the lawn or who can see straight into your backyard, then it’s probably time to start thinking about erecting some privacy screens.
Whether you rent or own your home, or are a hopeless gardener, there are plenty of ways to erect some form of barrier between your space and the neighbours.
Fencing and walls
Installing a new fence or wall anywhere on your property usually requires council approval, but both can increase your privacy considerably. A street-facing brick or cement wall will offer protection from passers-by, but if it cuts out the light you might want to find another way to do it.
Trellises and screens are a quick and easy way to organise some privacy, especially for renters. Place one at the exposed end of a balcony, verandah, or even in the garden, then plant flowering vines nearby so they’ll cover the gaps as they grow up the framework. You’ll find a thick vine will absorb a surprising amount of noise, giving both you and the neighbours some relief. Alternatively, a free-standing partition made from galvanised poles and metallic mesh filled with stones can be situated strategically to block the view into your garden.
Trees and shrubs
Depending on the available space in your garden, a variety of trees can be used as screening between your garden and the surrounding houses. Take care when choosing your plants, however, as some will grow tall but after a while afford no low coverage at all. It’s also advisable to avoid Leightons Green (aka ‘Leyland Cyprus’), which needs to be maintained constantly. Known as the ‘spite hedge’ this conifer grows very quickly and can block out not only prying neighbours but also the sunlight; in fact, some states have passed a bill relating to hedge disputes.
Clumping bamboo makes good screen planting, especially for a smaller garden as it doesn’t take up a lot of room. Photinia, Vibernum or Rhododendron are good for filling larger spaces.
You’ll probably need council approval before you build it, but a pergola or covered area will provide an extra room with protection not only from the neighbours, but also from the weather in all seasons.
For renters, many of these solutions are quite feasible with pot plants – bamboo, vines and shrubs grow happily in pots, though they will need maintenance and regular watering. An adjustable umbrella also makes a handy barrier to curious eyes, and can be moved around to allow the sun or shade into your space.