What could be better than enjoying a beautiful day in your own garden? However, many garden owners feel disturbed by the curious glances of neighbors and passers-by. Therefore, they want to make their property as opaque as possible with a privacy fence. We will show you what options are available and what factors you should pay attention to.
How can I protect myself from gazes in the garden?
Especially in large cities, it is often not so easy to provide your garden with a privacy screen. After all, the properties are lined up close together. Unlike in the countryside, the nearest neighbor is usually only a few meters away. In addition, there are curious passers-by who observe what is happening in the gardens from the sidewalk.
Although this is annoying, you are not helplessly at the mercy of this condition. But what exactly can you take as a privacy screen in the garden? There are numerous ways to build an effective protection from the prying eyes in the garden:
Living fence with plants (for example, the classic hedge).
- Wooden fence
- Bamboo fence
- Stone or brick wall
- Gabion fence
Plants as a privacy screen in the garden?
A hedge is probably one of the most popular ways to protect yourself from prying eyes in Europe. Due to their density and rapid growth, thujas in particular enjoy great popularity. In addition, there are numerous other options for privacy protection with plants in the garden.
One of them is bamboo plants. Bamboo hedges grow quickly, are low-maintenance, particularly opaque and evergreen. However, if you want to build a living bamboo privacy screen in the garden, you should pay attention to the variety. The bamboo Fargesia does not form root runners and is therefore ideal for use as a hedge plant.
An effective privacy screen in the garden can also be realized with the following plants:
- Field Maple
- Red beech
- Cherry laurel
Wooden and bamboo fences for privacy in the garden.
However, natural materials can be used as privacy screens not only during their lifetime. Especially wood enjoys great popularity among many garden owners as a fence with privacy screen.
A wooden fence has many advantages. First and foremost, it offers many different design options. Picket fence and hunter fence are only two of many variants to delimit his property.
The construction is particularly simple if prefabricated screen elements are used. Thus, even inexperienced do-it-yourselfers usually manage to build a privacy screen for the garden themselves.
As an alternative to the wooden fence, there is the possibility of erecting a bamboo privacy screen. Very simple and inexpensive this works, for example, with a bamboo roll fence. These fences look a bit more high-class if they are provided with a finishing profile at the top and bottom.
Use stones or bricks as a privacy screen
One of the best ideas for privacy screens in the garden is to build a natural stone or brick wall. Before building, however, you should check with the building department to see if this requires a permit. Depending on the location and height, this could be the case.
Natural stone walls fit perfectly into any garden. But they not only have a beautiful appearance, but are also an effective privacy screen.
The following types of stone in particular have proven themselves for construction:
In most cases, stone walls are not built around the entire garden. This would also visually smother the garden. However, they are excellent, for example, as a screen for the terrace or pool area in the garden.
Privacy screen in the garden modern design with gabions
Gabions are the wire baskets filled with stones, which can now be seen in many places. They enjoy great popularity because they are easier to erect than a conventional stone wall. In addition, the stones absorb sound and can be planted if desired.
Depending on the filling, the gabion fence offers a different appearance. Thus, the gabions can be ideally adapted to a wide variety of garden styles. However, it is important that the stones are frost-proof. Besides stones, there is also the possibility to fill the gabions with other materials:
- Glass or glass stones
- Wooden discs
Natural privacy screen made of willow
Another very attractive option is to fence off the garden with a wicker fence. If you want to create your own fence, however, you should have a lot of patience. Because until the fence actually provides an effective privacy screen for the garden, several years can pass.
It is easier to erect the pasture fence in the garden with ready-made design elements. The natural look is preserved. Because the elements are untreated and woven by hand. They fit harmoniously into any garden landscape.
Are neighbors allowed to prohibit the privacy fence?
Before erecting a fence, many garden owners ask themselves questions such as:
Do I need to ask the neighbor for permission?
Do I need a permit?
How high can the privacy screen be?
What is permitted and prohibited when erecting a privacy screen is regulated by neighbor law. However, this is not uniform throughout Europe, but differs in each federal state.
Nevertheless, there are a few generally applicable regulations: The privacy screen may be a maximum of 1.80 meters high. The distance to the neighboring property should be at least 50 centimeters.
If it is a boundary to the neighboring property, then your neighbors must also give their consent. To be on the safe side, you should have your neighbors confirm their consent in writing to avoid expensive legal disputes later on. The overall appearance of the street or residential area must not be disturbed by the privacy screen in the garden.
Caution is required above all with living fences. Overhanging branches must be removed from the neighboring property. However, the neighbor may not trim the hedge himself, but must request you to remove the overhang. He may set a deadline for this. If this deadline is not met, he may do it himself.
Ideally, however, you should not let it get that far. Agree with your neighbor on one or two annual dates when you are allowed to enter the neighbor’s property.
An effective privacy screen for the garden can be created in many different ways. They range from natural fences made of plants to stone walls.
Different factors such as cost, naturalness, construction and durability play an important role.
For the construction there are regulations: The fence may be a maximum of 180 centimeters high and not disturb the townscape. At the property line, the permission of the neighbors is required.
Privacy in your own garden or even in your own four walls can be severely compromised if someone can constantly look over the fence or into the window. After all, not everything is meant for foreign eyes (and ears). And not everywhere there is the possibility to close a roller shutter – especially since not everyone wants to sit down in the dark. At least in the case of windows and balcony or patio doors, there are relatively simple methods of using an effective privacy screen to block out neighbors or even the intrusive landlord.
The advantage of so-called privacy film is that you usually do not have to make any structural changes and the films can be removed later without leaving any residue. This is particularly important in rented apartments, where privacy protection is desired not only against neighbors, but possibly also against one’s own landlord. There is a wide range of films, some of which can be installed by the customer and some by a specialist company. Similar to tinting film in cars, these privacy films can be easily attached from the inside.
The window cleaning from the outside is therefore not affected. There are various alternatives for privacy protection. From mirror film, which prevents a 100 percent view into the apartment, at least during the day, to heavily tinted films, which also offer sun and UV protection and have a climate-regulating effect, there is just about everything. A craftsman is not absolutely necessary for the installation, but for particularly large glass surfaces or areas that are difficult to access, it is advisable to keep your hands off the self-installation.
Mail from the lawyer, because the privacy screen to the neighbor disturbs
The neighbor may feel disturbed by a privacy screen that is spontaneously erected by a craftsman, for example, on the boundary of the property. Most European states have their own rules for this, which are sometimes also interpreted differently by local statutes of the municipalities and cities.
It is therefore relatively easy to make mistakes when erecting a privacy screen. There are particularly often disputes over so-called privacy fences. Such a fence prevents direct viewing of a fenced area.
Typical examples are:
- erection of a privacy fence around the entire garden or property
- partial fencing through the privacy screen to screen off a certain area (e.g. seating areas of the terrace, a swimming pool or in front of the garden sauna)
Of course, a privacy screen can also be set up to block an unattractive view out from the property, for example, if the neighbor has a very unattractive facade or an unkempt garden, or there are other aesthetic disturbances. Thus, to serve the purpose of privacy protection, such a fence must maintain a certain height to be effective.
A good average is considered to be “man-high” – which, as a rule, corresponds to about 1.80 meters. In contrast to normal garden fences, the privacy screen definitely keeps away neighbor and his curious glances better.
Even with the materials used, sometimes there are disputes between neighbors when the privacy screen is installed.
- From the purely natural hedge
- over wooden fences
- to wire mesh filled with stones or plastic / metal designs
- Or plastic / metal designs, many materials are used.
If the privacy screen disturbs neighbor and neighbor, this is usually due to aesthetic sensation, which is rather a subjective thing. But often the existing rules on the subject of visual protection are violated by the installer. In general, a privacy fence, like any other garden fence, is a so-called legal enclosure. These are usually permit-free, provided they do not exceed a certain height. The distance to the other property must also be observed. This applies in particular if the privacy screen is implemented using plants (e.g. a high hedge).
Walls and fences that serve as normal legal enclosures and boundary markers may vary in height depending on the federal state and, in some cases, on the city or municipality. In Munich, for example, a maximum height of 150 centimeters applies. Overall, the privacy screen should not interfere with the neighbor’s use of his or her own property. The fencing must fit in with the overall appearance customary in the locality, which is the rule in the street or residential area.
If the fence is not a visual screen but merely a marker of the neighbor’s boundary, neighbor law stipulates that permission must be obtained from the neighbor. The distance to the neighbor’s property is also specified in the development plans or by the neighboring law.
You can orientate yourself by these reference values (which, however, can differ greatly locally):
- Walls and fences as a symbolic boundary: 40 to 90cm in height.
- Walls and fences as visual protection: 170 to 190cm height
- Minimum distance to the neighboring property (if not regulated otherwise): 50cm
- Wall and fence are considered as dead right enclosure, hedge as “living” enclosure
When the hedge as a privacy screen annoy neighbor and consorts.
Hedges are particularly popular because they provide a natural boundary that does not usually pose aesthetic problems (as with a high concrete wall, for example). However, the legal requirements of the individual federal states also apply here. Thus, the installer of a hedge has to fulfill various obligations. The maintenance of the green property boundary is his sole responsibility – he must therefore also take care of overhanging branches on the neighbor’s side.
Overhanging branches are generally not allowed in order to meet the duty of road safety in the event of a storm, etc. However, this also means that the neighbor may not trim the hedge that does not belong to him without further ado. If he notices overhanging branches, he must request the owner of the hedge to cut them back to the permitted size. This can be done, if necessary, by setting a deadline. Only then is the neighbor allowed to do something about the hedge himself – before that, it would be unlawful damage to property.
In addition, the following rules of thumb generally apply to plantings:
Plants up to 1m in height must maintain a minimum distance of 25cm from the other property.
Plants between 1.01m and 1.50m in height must be at least 50cm apart
Plants from 1,50m height must keep 75cm minimum distance
However, an effective visual protection can often be achieved by equipping window panes with visual protection film. Then there is usually no trouble with landlords or neighbors.
Conclusion: Annoying the neighbor with the privacy screen is not a good idea
Anyone setting up a privacy screen should always comply with the requirements of the relevant state law. It also helps to take a look at the local development plans, which can sometimes deviate considerably from the normal specifications. Depending on the type and minimum distance of the fence erected, the neighbor’s permission may be required – local fencing is to be used as a benchmark for the design.
Special duties of care arise in the case of “living” visual protection in the form of a hedge, the maintenance of which is the sole responsibility of the owner – and this from all sides. However, an effective visual protection can often be achieved by equipping window panes with visual protection film. Then there is usually no trouble with landlords or neighbors.
In my opinion, a garden or patio space without a proper privacy screen is no good. In their original form, gardens were always quiet and secret places where you could forget about time, the noise of life and the neighbors. A high walled medieval castle garden will seem romantic to us because it has something mysterious about it.
Actually, this is already the whole secret of a good garden design. If there is no proper view protection, then the most beautiful design idea will remain cool and soulless! And such an improvement does not have to be complex and expensive. For example, ivy grown on a wire trellis has always worked well, both in summer and winter. Plus, this way you won’t have the hassle of costly tail trimming.
However, the privacy screen should first and foremost match the house and its surroundings.
And it would also be advisable to look into the local building code before you install privacy screens on your property (pay attention to permissible heights). The reason is often the wind load to be calculated. Fence elements that are too large can find themselves on the neighbor’s property after the next storm if they have not been properly secured.
If privacy fences, hedges and cover plantings are used with regard to blocking views, it is important to know that they are most effective when located as close as possible to the patio or sitting area – that is, where privacy is desired. If a hedge is placed on the property line far away from the actual area that is to be screened, then neighbors and passersby can easily look over or through it from the other side of the hedge without noticing.
Noise protection, on the other hand, is most effective when it is located as close as possible to the source of the noise. If, for example, there is a splashing water feature in the neighbor’s garden that deprives you of sleep at night, then a tightly closed noise barrier directly on the property line will have the best sound-absorbing effect. High walls or walls are optimal. It is important that they have absolutely no joints or other openings, because through every small opening sound passes unhindered. That is why hedges are also almost ineffective as noise barriers.
In addition to protection from uninvited glances and annoying noises, there is also often a demand for effective wind protection. Here again, completely different physical characteristics must be taken into account. Dense wooden walls are unsuitable in this case, because they increase wind speed and air vortices. Wind has to be transformed and “sifted” and “combed” by hedges or windbreaks (so-called wind combs). In this case, the best solution is a small wall with a planting of copses (e.g. stunted pines) and a second hedge on the terrace.
Do high privacy hedges or fences make the garden smaller and more cramped?
Privacy hedges or trellises within the property do not seem at all as constricting as some might think. In fact, in most cases, it even creates a perceived increase in space! You get the feeling that the garden goes on much further behind the hedges.
I have 30 years of experience and i started this website to see if i could try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree a Horticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
Please if you have any questions leave them on the article and i will get back to you personally.