Garden screening ideas – 11 ways to add decorative privacy

Think beyond the fence when it comes to garden screening
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  • Garden screening ideas are trending, as we strive to use our outside spaces in more comprehensive ways. The humble fence has had many re-imaginings over the last few decades, with the traditional lap fence usurped by fanciful fretwork screens, uber-contemporary slim slats or chunky, black metal panels.

    Garden screening ideas

    It’s not just fences that can shield you from the eyes of neighbours and passers-by. Creative garden landscaping ideas include Pergolas, gazebos and super-sized plants to offer credible options for successful garden screening. Beyond privacy each can solve a variety of grumblings in your garden – from providing shade or warmth to adding decoration and absorbing noise.

    1. Go faux for instant results

    decked patio area with plant wall screening

    Image credit: Wayfair

    Ivy is a fast-growing climber, but even the speediest of varieties will take a few months to result in screening that’s dense and lush. Faux foliage, on the other hand, will provide instant – and impressive – results.

    The market is awash with artificial foliage panels that can be erected quickly and with minimal effort, and there are all sorts to choose from – from classic green and autumnal red to ones peppered with faux flowers or fairy lights.

    Panels with an abundance of foliage that looks convincingly real will make your wallet wince more than flimsier versions, but worth the extra expense if your budget allows. If it doesn’t, but you need extra coverage, grow real ivy, clematis or jasmine to intertwine with the faux foliage.

    In more good news, artificial foliage screening panels are usually backed onto a trellis, which you can use to attach decorative accessories to – such as a mirror or metal birds – to add character, colour and extra screening!

    Buy now: Maen Plastic Expanding Trellis, £96.99, Wayfair.co.uk

    2. Turn a simple fence into a style statement

    Black painted trellis with plants and gardening tools

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Is a garden fence idea just a fence or is it wall space crying out to be utilised? Ask yourself this if your fence is shielding you from the neighbours, but is a dull, blank canvas.

    Paint it first – not just for colour and to disguise blemishes – but to protect it – then nail in rows of simple slats (you can by these ready-cut from DIY shops). If they’re not already black, paint them a dark shade; a pale colour will quickly show up dirt.

    Attach hooks to hang planters and zinc buckets (drill drainage holes in the bases first) from, filled with herbs and trailing plants. The greenery will really pop against the dark background, creating a statement wall, adding storage and freeing up floor space, so it’s a great idea for balconies and small patio spaces too.

    And it doesn’t just have to display plants! Solar light bulbs, lanterns, an outdoor clock or a galvanised watering would be welcome and useful additions.

    3. Erect a pergola to screen from above

    GARDEN SCREEN PERGALOA

    Image credit: Dobbies

    When it comes to garden screening, you can block even the most minuscule gap at eye level, but a neighbour needs only to climb their stairs to enjoy an unimpeded view of your garden. Help comes in the form of a pergola – a simple but sweet solution to creating a sanctuary that’s screened-off from above, as well as providing a pleasing-looking structure to allow easy climbing plants and vines to grow up (and over). It has a natural, Fairytale quality to it, too, creating a romantic feel.

    For a more modern look, or until your trailing greenery has grown, swathe the roof of a pergola with multi-coloured bamboo screening or raffia (both available in rolls) or with strings or festoon lights. It’s even possible to install solar panels on top, but check your structure and positioning with a specialist first.

    4. Use freestanding panels to zone areas

    Decorative black metal garden panel

    Image credit: logifirepits.com

    Decorative, latticed metal panels offer more than just good looks. Freestanding ones can be utilised as quick but quirky alternatives to fence panels, as they negate the need for digging and inserting concrete posts (and my, don’t they look glorious too!) But because these types of panels invariably feature filigree or fretwork, they don’t offer as much coverage as a solid panel would.

    What they do excel at though, is zoning the garden into areas; from separating a dining table from a chill out space or using two to partition an office area.

    Gardenesque.co.uk champions decorative fencing for its, ‘contemporary aesthetic and ability to elegantly hide certain things in our gardens that we don’t necessarily want on show – such as wheelie bins, compost heaps, water butts and storage areas’.

    Better yet, they’re portable (albeit heavy!), allowing you adjust their position according to purpose.

    Buy now: Rose Garden Design Patio Screen, £299, logifirepits.com

    5. Introduce a sense of cohesion

    GARDEN with bench seating and screening

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Square fence panels in a pale wood with slim slats laid horizontally rank highly on the modernity dial and provide a fine balance of allowing light to flow through but hindering unwanted eyes or an ugly building.

    They are so striking and glaringly contemporary though, that alone, they can look incongruous to the rest of your garden. You can overcome this by embracing their chic, Scandi elements and echoing them elsewhere in your garden – perhaps a slatted bench in blonde wood, a simple but chic coffee table and curved concrete planters, with lashings of green plants.

    6. Use tiles to disguise an unsightly wall

    Image credit: Porcelain Superstore

    If privacy in your garden isn’t an issue, but aesthetics are, disguising an existing unsightly wall can be a real game-changer. The go-to solution is paint, but tiles will deliver more in terms of pattern, texture and character, and will last longer.

    ‘Outdoor porcelain tiles are perfect for the British weather’, ‘says Abbas Youssefi, Director of Porcelain Superstore, ‘they’re virtually impervious to water and are unaffected by extremities of heat – and they are very, very low maintenance. Plus, they won’t fade in the sunlight, so they are absolutely fine to use in sun traps’.

    Buy now: Spirit Grey Tiles, £42 per m², porcelainsuperstore.co.uk

    7. Create a quiet enclosure

    Garden gazebo with curtains

    Image credit: IKEA

    A curtained gazebo may not possess the wow factor of an all-out summerhouse or garden room idea, but it’ll provide similar elements; screening on all sides, warmth and functionality – and all without the hefty price tag.

    Its pitched roof and generous drapes create a sense of grandeur, making it ideal for turning an alfresco dinner into a celebratory occasion, with the added benefit of using the framework to suspend a pendant light or a heater from. Or, draw the curtains, add a rug, beanbags and a projector, and a mini cinema – for little ones and big ones alike – is yours!

    Gazebos work well as an office space or shaded reading nook in the corner of a garden, where the curtains on the two sides that sit in the corner can be drawn, and the other two left open, shielding you from the neighbours’ vision as well as their voices (the canvas roof and curtains will absorb sound) but affording you views of your garden.

    Buy now: Himmelso Gazebo with Curtains, £320, IKEA

    8. Hide behind tropical plants

    hOT TUB ON RAISED DECKING

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Douglas Gibb

    We associate the word, ‘tropical’ with hot and humid climes, but there are many tropical plants that will thrive in a UK climate, growing tall and wide, thus ideal for creating a natural, green screen in your garden.

    Opt for hardy plants such as palms and yuccas, which are not only lovely to look at, but quick to grow and easy to care for. Bamboo is notorious for its supersonic growing speed, but as the experts are gardenesque.co.uk warn, ‘it can be invasive so it’s best grown in pots to keep it contained’.

    In fact, planting some tropical plants in pots and others directly into the ground will allow you to curb the growth of the rampant ones and encourage growth for the rest. Plus, you’ll be able to move the pots to where they are required the most, such as around the hot tub decking area.

    9. Use reeds for speedy screening

    garden with lanterns and bamboo screening

    Image credit: Future/Max Attenborough

    Not only is reed screening one of the snappiest solutions to screen your garden, but it’s versatile, widely available and keenly priced. Lightweight and flexible, it’s a material (along with bamboo and willow) that can be easily be curved around corners or attached to a shabby wall, fence or balcony railings, creating a natural, home-spun look along the way. Its pliable nature means it can also be used as a canopy over a pergola and the only looking after it takes is a good wash every now and then to prevent algae from forming.

    Be warned if you’re a colour enthusiast though, as this type of screening can’t be painted, but there’s nothing from stopping you from prettying it up with bright bunting or multi-coloured carnival lights.

    10. Make the fence the feature

    image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Wreford

    Traditional, no-frills fence panels are adept at blocking views, but they can offend the style-minded. Of course, they can be improved with a lick of paint or disguised behind plants, but a bolder option would be to ditch the traditional route entirely and to switch up to a smart, contemporary fence, that can be displayed in all it’s glory, rather that trying to blend into the background.

    Plump for a sombre colour, such as grey, navy or black. You want to avoid colours that will naturally blend into a garden, such as green, cream or brown as well as those which will stand out, but look too kitsch or childish, such as pink, red or orange. Opt for a strong pattern but keep it smart and symmetrical – so no fancy curves or mixy matchy shapes. Hanging a simple clock, mirror or shelf on it centrally will draw extra attention and turn it into a focal point.

    11. Use woven panels to create open zones

    garden with stacked wooden crates for storage and willow screen panels

    Image credit: Future PLC/Spike Powell

    When you want to create zones but feel solid fencing would feel too harsh choose woven garden screening ideas. Such as these willow panels. The open weave structure provides a more airy approach to fencing an area in, to avoid breaking the flow of the space. Especially handy in a small garden where you don’t wish to make it feel even more limited.

    Re-cycling and re-purposing can all come into play when it comes to garden screening ideas, particularly if you’re on a budget. A shabby, existing fence or new but inexpensive screening, such as willow, reed or bamboo, can up its country-style credentials by teaming it with vintage-style objects that look as good as they are useful.

    Apple crates always look lovely, plus they can be piled up to create a storage unit, while a pre-loved wooden chair, table or ladder will look charming, and can be used to display plants on. It’s vital that you position your items strategically. So pile the apple crates when you need extra screening the most, and that the objects look harmonious when they’re grouped together. Ensure they’re of a similar ilk in terms of style and colours to bring a sense of unity.

    What is the best type of garden screening?

    ‘Bamboo screens and fence panels are the quickest and easiest ways to screen’, say the experts at Gardenesque.com, ‘trees can be a natural way for effective screening but may take a while to grow to the desired height. Silver birch, hornbeam, beech, rowan and willow are relatively fast growing and are readily available in garden centres’.

    How can I stop my neighbours overlooking my garden?

    ‘If you have fencing already in place, a simple way is to add a section of trellis on top of your existing fence or wall,’ suggests the team at Gardenesque. ‘Plants can provide more privacy especially once some climbers and foliage have grown. Evergreen, fast-growing plants such as ivy or vines will offer low maintenance garden screening’.

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