How do you make a patio more private? 9 ideas that will make your garden feel like a secluded oasis

Create your very own secluded outdoor oasis thanks to these expert tips

Wayfair parasol
(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future Publishing Ltd)

Relaxing in the garden can become a little tricky when you feel like neighbours and onlookers can peer in while you're enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or gathering friends and family for a barbecue. No matter the size of your outdoor space there are plenty of clever patio privacy ideas to make your space feel, well, a bit more private.

Adding a good-sized fence to your patio ideas is a smart first port of call when planning to make your garden more private. Not only will these help enclose your space, but they'll provide a structure for plants and trees to grow while making your space feel like your own personal oasis.

Beyond hiding from prying eyes, there are also several added benefits of adding a layer of privacy to your patio, from offering shelter and food for native wildlife, to protecting you from the rain, wind and midday sun.

9 patio privacy ideas 

So, which option is best for you and your patio? Well, the experts have shared nine of their top patio privacy ideas below, which will allow you to get your outdoor space ready for the spring and summer months.

1. Utilise hedges

Garden wall with mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

‘When considering privacy in your garden, hedges make a fantastic alternative to traditional garden fencing ideas and come with a host of benefits,’ explains Jamie Shipley, Gardening Expert and Managing Director at Hedges Direct

‘Not only do they add more greenery to your garden, but they also help with noise reduction, provide protection from wind, and offer shelter and food sources for all kinds of wildlife like bees, butterflies, hedgehogs and birds,’ affirms Tom Kitching, Executive Chairman at Henchman. ‘Plus, they generally require very little maintenance throughout the year and are much cheaper than a fence.’ You’ll likely only need to give your hedge the occasional prune throughout the year to keep it looking neat and stop it from growing too tall.

2. Try an ivy or buddleia screen

Wooden garden bench on stone path surrounded by plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Another alternative to fencing is taking advantage of some ivy garden ideas to make a screen, or using buddleia. As the names may suggest, this patio privacy idea is a screen made of ivy, buddleia or other trailing plants. 

‘When grown in containers, buddleia - also known as butterfly bush - can grow tall and thick stems, which in the summer months are thriving with pollen-rich and colourful flowers,’ says Patty Willems, PR Manager at elho. Not only will it provide a haven to wildlife like butterflies and bumblebees but ‘buddleia has a sweet, honey fragrance, making the patio experience even more appealing,’ Patty concludes.

If you’re looking for a green screen which requires less upkeep, an artificial option can work just as well.

3. Use plants and trees

Slate paving

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

If you have a small patio idea, surrounding it with trees can give you plenty of extra privacy when dining alfresco.

‘Plants are a natural and sustainable way to create privacy in your garden,’ Dobbies’ Horticultural Director, Marcus Eyles, explains. And there are several different kinds to consider.

‘Trees like olive, eucalyptus, and yew, add greenery and height to your patio, while giving you increased protection from overlooking houses and people walking by,’ Patty affirms. ‘Evergreens provide year-round colour while other varieties like acers, bring late-season colour but even smaller varieties like Japanese maple, arborvitae and holly offer adequate screening and colour while growing into maturity.’

4. Consider vertical gardening

Forest Slatted Wall Planter 2 Shelves

(Image credit: Forest)

‘One of the most budget friendly ways to add privacy to your patio would be to engage in vertical gardening,’ suggests Jamie Robinson, Installation Manager at Value Doors. ‘This means committing to structures like living walls, where you grow plants on a vertical surface rather than on the ground.’

As well as adding some beautiful greenery to your outdoor space, focusing on strategically hanging plant pots or adding a living wall idea to your garden can help to limit or obstruct your neighbours’ view of your patio. Again, there are plenty of great artificial options which can instantly shield your outdoor area from any onlookers too.

5. Increase your fence height

B&Q GoodHome Neva Fence panel

(Image credit: B&Q)

If you’ve ever wondered how high your garden fence can be without planning permission, typically the maximum height is 2 metres. And in most cases this should be high enough for privacy. So, if you currently have a considerably lower fence, it might be worth investing in a taller fence.

However, ‘before you do this, it's important to consider the line of sight,’ Jamie warns. ‘You don't want to waste valuable time, money and resources on replacing your fences only to find out that they aren't blocking anyone from the right angle.’

6. Add an awning

Thomas Sanderson Kelly Anderson Uni Juniper Awning

(Image credit: Thomas Sanderson)

Not only can a retractable awning add privacy to your space without compromising on natural light but it is a smart garden shade idea that will extend your living space into the garden all year round.

The great thing about an awning is that ‘they can be used all year round, providing shade from the sun's rays in warmer months but also in the winter to shelter from wind and rain,’ admits Lisa Cooper, Head of Product at Thomas Sanderson. And in doing so, they keep your outdoor furniture and soft furnishings protected too.

Shade created by your awning also has the added benefit of keeping ‘the adjoining interior room cool and helping reduce glare inside,’ as well, Lisa concludes.

7. Put up a gazebo

garden area with gazebo and lighting cord and sofa with cushions

(Image credit: Future)

A pergola idea is the perfect multi-tasking structure to add privacy to your space. At the high end of the scale you can purchase ones with built in retractable roofs and privacy screens. Alternatively, if you opt for a simple wooden version you ca load it with hanging plants and vines to obscure the view of prying eyes.  

If you aren't ready to invest in a permanent structure or live in a rented property you can mimic the look with a Gazebo, such as this elegant one, priced at £179 at B&Q.

8. Get creative with draped fabric or curtains

Seating area just outside a black clad house with sofa and armchair covered by garden sail

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

‘One effective way to achieve a sense of privacy on your patio is by adding drapes or other materials to create a more intimate dining area,’ says Bridgman’s Styling Expert, Annah Kelly. ‘By strategically hanging curtains or lightweight fabrics, homeowners can not only block out unwanted views but also enhance the ambience of their outdoor space.’

This can be a great budget-friendly option and allow you to add personality to your outdoor space depending on the pattern or colour of the fabric that you choose.

9. Employ a parasol

Wayfair parasol

(Image credit: Wayfair)

‘Incorporating a parasol can also offer shade and privacy, providing a stylish solution to obscuring views while enjoying al fresco dining or relaxation,’ Annah admits. 

Because they are often free-standing, a parasol can be a great patio cover idea for those whose patios aren’t directly attached to their home or an exterior wall. There are also a number which can tilt and lean over, depending on where you need the shade or privacy that day.

FAQs

Which privacy ideas are best for a smaller patio area?

If you don’t have a lot of space to play with, using large hedges or plants could make a small patio area feel even more enclosed and tight, which isn’t ideal. So, for smaller patios, choosing something less obtrusive that still provides privacy and natural light is key.

‘A simple sail is a really effective way of creating privacy with three upright connecting points,’ suggests Matt Leigh, Gardener, Designer and Landscaper at Matt Leigh Gardens. A sail can also provide shelter from the sun, wind and rain.

Which plants are best for making your patio look and feel more private?

‘Bamboo is a great plant for creating privacy if you have a more modern or zen garden,’ according to Marcus. And we have to agree. The ‘fast-growing evergreen perennial can make a big impact in a short time.’

Another great option is hawthorn, as it has long been used to create privacy in gardens. ‘This native deciduous hedge, popular with wildlife, also makes an ideal windbreaker,’ Marcus concurs. 

‘Capable of withstanding exposed locations, this sturdy plant is renowned for its small but densely packed leaves which offer protection in spring and summer. In winter, the thickly weaved branches will continue to provide a good screen and shelter.’

Ellis Cochrane
Contributor

Ellis Cochrane has been a Freelance Contributor for Ideal Home since 2023. She graduated with a Joint Honours degree in Politics and English from the University of Strathclyde and between her exams and graduation, started a lifestyle blog where she would share what she was buying, reading and doing. In doing so, she created opportunities to work with some of her dream brands and discovered the possibility of freelance writing, after always dreaming of writing for magazines when she was growing up.


Since then, she has contributed to a variety of online and print publications, covering everything from celebrity news and beauty reviews to her real passion; homes and interiors. She started writing about all things homes, gardens and interiors after joining Decor & Design Scotland as a Freelance Journalist and Social Media Account Manager in 2021. She then started freelancing at House Beautiful, Country Living and in Stylist’s Home team. Ellis is currently saving to buy her first home in Glasgow with far too many Pinterest boards dedicated to her many design ideas and inspirations.