When trying to create privacy in an outdoor space, many people make the mistake of simply adding height all around the perimeter.

However, this creates an unwanted, gloomy aura – making the space feel like a fortress, instead of a sanctuary.

Instead of falling into this trap, you should leverage the design concept of sightlines – the key to making your outdoor space both private and beautiful.

Find your sightlines
A sightline is an unobstructed line of view between an area of your outdoor space and where people can see you from.

Once you have identified the most important sightlines in your outdoor space, you will be able to make design choices to deliberately obstruct them to create greater privacy.

Thoughtfully obstructing sightlines is a far better solution than simply adding height indiscriminately around the perimeter of the space. The latter method can overly block out light – resulting in a dark and unappealing environment.

Contrastingly, identifying and blocking sightlines allows you to create a space that’s intimate and inviting.

Screen from the side
If your space has any sightlines from the side, you’ll need to set up a ‘screen’ to obstruct them and create more privacy. There are a number of different ways you can do this.

Without a doubt, fence panels are the most cost-effective and simple option. In the UK, you’re allowed to install fences up to two metres in height without planning permission, which should be enough to cover any side sightlines in your space.

However, if two metres isn’t tall enough to block out your side sightlines, you can always plant fast-growing shrubs in front of the fence to create a natural screen. Bamboo and conifers are popular choices. It’s just important to keep natural planted screens maintained as they can get out of control if left to grow.

Cover from above
When blocking out sightlines from above, the key is to create a canopy that covers the area you want to make more private.

One of the ways you can do this is by planting garden trees. Of course, large trees will provide the most effective cover from view – but they also create more shade, so if you’re going to plant one, it’s best not to do so to the south of your space. If you can, try to plant a smaller tree but in the exact spot needed, so that you can get all the cover you need without unnecessarily blocking out sunlight.

Wooden structures such as pergolas are another effective and beautiful option– especially when covered with climbing plants. You can construct these to shield an entire seating area from view. And when draped with a variety of plant life, you’re sure to add an aura of natural beauty and relaxation to your outdoor space.

Sightlines: The key to a private and beautiful outdoor space
You want your outdoor space to be private – but not at all costs. By understanding the concept of sightlines and shielding the most important areas from view, you can make your outdoor space private and beautiful.

Image: La Citta Vita (CC BY-SA 2.0)