A garden or outdoor space can be a haven when the weather is good. From a different spot to enjoy a quiet coffee or an impromptu entertaining space, to a place to grow your own veg or a playground for your kids to let off steam, gardens are lovely to have. If you live in a built up area, you may find that your garden feels a little open plan, especially if it’s newly planted. We’ve put together a guide to help you create the illusion of privacy in your garden and make it a haven from the outside world.

Traffic noise

Installing a small water feature can really help to disguise traffic noise.

There’s nothing much you can do about traffic noise, particularly if you live on a busy through-road – but you can help to drown it out. The sound of trickling water is a great barrier to traffic noise, and as it’s close-up your ear often prefers to focus on that. Installing a water feature needn’t be as scary as you think, as most use a water pump to recycle their own water rather than needing a separate supply – you just have to remember to top it up occasionally. The birds will appreciate it, too! You will need an outside electricity supply to run the pump, so for that reason water features are generally best positioned fairly close to the house. You can either put it on a time switch, or just turn it off when you want to go to bed if you’re worried about hearing it overnight!

Passers by

This beautiful clematis has been trained up a fence to help create a thicker barrier.

Having people strolling past your garden can sometimes feel a little disconcerting. In reality they’re probably not interested in looking in at all, unless it looks like you’re having a wonderful time! Just breaking up the eyeline can often be enough to make you feel like you’re not being overlooked. Putting up a solid barrier such as a tall fence could make your outdoor space feel enclosed or dark, so you could think about using something that’s more of a visual barrier than an actual barrier.

A delicate, leafy barrier such as bamboo or a climbing plant growing up a trellis will make you feel more private without compromising on light. Bamboo is evergreen so will give protection all year round, but it can be very invasive so is best planted in pots. If you choose a climbing plant, look for something that will keep its foliage all year round such as variegated ivy. Putting pots along the top of a low wall will help to visually raise it, but you’ll have to keep on top of the watering!

Use a trellis in conjunction with a climbing plant to create a more solid barrier.


Bamboo is a good, fast growing screen but can be very invasive.
More permanent screens can be made with fast-growing hedging plants such as laurel.

If you have houses all around you then you’re going to be overlooked at some point. There’s not much you can do about being overlooked from upstairs windows, but you can certainly create a little oasis at ground level. Shading seating areas or just using tall foliage to screen off a little area of the garden can give the whole area a completely different look and feel. You can create screening with tall plants in pots such as ornamental grasses, or put up an actual shelter such as a trellis seat or pagoda. If you’re prepared to invest a little more time in the project and you have room, then you could consider planting a hedge – laurel and conifer are both quick-growing and can be clipped into strong, architectural shapes to enhance a contemporary space.

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