Privacy barriers can be a great improvement to any backyard. "Good fences make good neighbors" is an adage made famous by Robert Frost. Sometimes complete privacy barriers do an even better job. Trees, pergolas, gazebos and fences are popular backyard privacy options that can be found at gardening centers, hardware stores and fence companies.
The Leyland cypress tree is a hearty specimen that can be found in several starter sizes at your local nursery. These trees grow at an average rate of 3 feet per year and mature to 15 feet in width by 120 feet in height. Make sure you’ve got the vertical and horizontal space for this enthusiastic grower. Grow in full sun to partial shade.
The emerald green arborvitae is another successful choice for a natural “fence.” At an annual growth rate of approximately 4 feet, and reaching heights of 30 feet and spreads of 8 to 10 feet, this particular specimen makes an excellent screen. They do best in alkaline soil and full sun. Also consider dawn redwoods, sweet gums and willows.
For small backyards, a pergola makes a creative statement. A pergola is a structure with four vertical supporting posts and trellised rafters across the top. To add a wall of privacy, grow climbing wisteria up the poles. The wisteria will eventually fall from all sides and enclose the structure. For a more immediate solution, hang colorful fabric sails from the sides where you wish the most privacy. A gazebo offers similar containment, though the roof is usually one solid substance instead of open trellises.
The classic backyard privacy solution is the fence, which comes in a variety of materials, including wood, vinyl, chain link and wire mesh netting. Strong posts are essential, especially in windy areas. Height is generally between 3 and 6 feet. Kits have become popular of late and are commonly available at fence companies.