At Nice and Green Landscape, when we work with homeowners to design a landscape, one of the components we address is how much privacy they want and how we can achieve it in the most natural way. While a fence is the most instinctive answer, and often a great choice, it's not always the best choice in terms of aesthetics or function depending on the space.
Some of our suggestions for adding privacy to your landscape:
Add perimeter plantings
While fence heights may be limited by city or town regulations, plantings typically have no height restrictions. This is a great landscaping solution if you need that additional height for privacy. Planting hedges or tall evergreens like arborvitae or cypress around your property line can do double duty, as they close off those sight lines while adding beauty to your landscape. If height is not an issue, ornamental grasses can grow 2- 5 feet tall and obstruct views between properties. In Massachusetts, many tree varieties will loose leaves in fall and remain bare until spring, so it's not recommended to use these types of trees for privacy.
Install a fence
The quickest solution for privacy is a 6-foot fence (fence heights are regulated by local municipal regulations, so check your city/town hall first!). A solid fence provides year-round privacy, is lower-maintenance than plantings and takes up less space than plantings. Fences come in a variety of sizes, materials and styles to suit your taste and the features of your home. Since it's not a natural element or material however, a fence can sometimes look jarring to your landscape, especially if it's a larger scale. We recommend planting flowers and shrubs in front or nearby your fence to soften the landscape.
Another option is to build a wall or stone, brick, stucco or cement. We often recommend a stone wall, as stones provide a natural look to a landscape which is typically the preferred choice of our clients. If it seems to overwhelming to have a high wall of stone, you could consider a shorter stone wall of 2-3 feet then adding a short picket fence above that to disrupt sight lines without creating a claustrophobic feel.
Add a water feature
If you're concerned about the noise created by your neighbor (or the noise you make), or you're bothered by traffic or other street noise, adding a water feature to your landscape can drown out unpleasant sounds with more relaxing white noise. Water features like fountains and waterfalls can range in size, scope and cost. Some are small, simpler, plug-in varieties you can buy at a hardware store, while others are major custom-designed focal points of your landscape.