landscaping for privacy

If you live or have a summer home in the Northern Michigan area, there is one thing we can all agree on. People do not exactly respect your privacy. From people ignoring private property signs to taking photos on your beach to peering in windows once they’ve determined no one is home (shockingly these are both actual reports from our clients), the lack of privacy is a serious problem.

You may be asking yourself, can my landscape help provide some additional privacy? The answer is thankfully, yes, it sure can. From plantings to fences to hardscapes, there are several practical solutions that can beautify your space while enhancing your privacy from neighbors and nosy visitors.

Let’s look at five great options when landscaping for privacy.

Considering Privacy in Your Landscape Design

When pondering how to secure your privacy at home, we all think of fencing and gates. While these are obviously one of the best ways to create privacy, they are not always affordable. Not everyone can logistically install fencing throughout their entire property either or have the means to power an automatic, code-protected gate. Traditional fences or gates also do not typically provide a beautiful aesthetic to your space either.

arborvitae with flowers planted lining sidewalk in backyard

If you are in the beginning stages of purchasing or building a new home, you may still have time to develop privacy plans as a part of your landscape design. A custom gate or fence option can be a great solution, especially when layered with plantings. Stone can be added to pillars that coordinate with your hardscape projects throughout the property. Even if your home’s landscaping is established, there are many ideas you can utilize to transform your current space to an oasis of calm and privacy.

1. Layer Plantings with Trees

Whether you have fencing installed you are trying to hide or are just trying to gain some privacy, layering your plantings and trees. This tends to be our favorite approach because it allows for a significant increase in privacy and really beautifies your property.

Begin by selecting your tallest plantings to go in the back, meaning facing your neighbors, the road, etc. Then stagger slightly shorter plantings in the ‘holes’ not yet covered by your tallest plantings. Consider adding bushes of some sort next. Finish with the addition of perennial flowers or space for annual plantings.

flowers and privacy planting

We recommend choosing some plants that are evergreen, so they will stay full and colorful year-round. When selecting plants that fit in the shorter front rows, be sure to make wise choices so that they bloom at a variety of times throughout the growing season.

The layered approach provides excellent coverage for those trying to peak into your backyard and it also provides great depth. People trespassing cannot just simply sneak through a row of trees. By selecting plants that bloom throughout the season, this addition will enhance more than just the privacy of your space! Check out this case study to see a great example.

2. Don’t Forget About Ornamental Grasses and Vines

Typical privacy plantings include columnar trees and shrubs, however ornamental grasses and vines can be a great selection too. They offer a much wider variety and may be more pleasing to the eye or blend with your existing landscape more effectively.

ornamental grasses

If your landscape has a more natural look, selecting vines to climb a lattice or screen can provide much better privacy than just the lattice itself. Vines can add a ton of interest and color to your landscape as well.

Ornamental grasses are one of our favorite selections, especially when combined with the layering method above. Grasses can grow well over 6 feet tall if you select specific varieties. The only downside of grasses is that they do not hold their color throughout the winter.

3. Add a Retaining Wall, Pergola, or Pavilion

Adding a physical structure to your property may sound like a huge undertaking, however, it can offer huge rewards beyond just providing privacy. Retaining walls do more than just hold back earth; they can make an unusable space usable again or add some vertical and horizontal interest to your space. Plantings can be added to the outer edge of your retaining wall to offer additional height privacy. Seating and fire elements can be sunk into the earth as well. An added bonus is that a retaining wall requires little to no maintenance after installation.

patio and firepit with pergola

Pergolas and pavilions offer excellent privacy and can extend your time outdoors at night and through the seasons. Remember pavilions feature fully enclosed roof, while a pergola has slats or a pattern of holes of some sort. Fireplaces can be added to pavilions to help you enjoy your outdoor space late into the fall and in early spring! Televisions, comfortable seating, and more can all be included with the addition of a pavilion to your property. Situating a wall, with a fireplace for example, in the direction you would like privacy is an instant solution.

4. Create a Green Fence

There are many options for creating a ‘green’ fence solution. Planting bushes or shrubs tightly together can create a privacy hedge, much like a fence. Green fences can be installed in front of fences that are a bit of an eye sore or be a part of layering plantings. Arborvitae and boxwoods are the most common plants we use for privacy in Northern Michigan.

hedge of boxwood

5. Try Courtyard Screening

Our final solution as an alternative privacy screening is installing courtyard screening panels. These panels are usually made of wood and decorative in nature. They can be placed in specific areas you want to achieve privacy and are surrounded by plantings. There are several beautiful options to select from. To learn more about this privacy screening we installed, check out this case study.

privacy screen place near hot tub

Planning for Privacy at Your Home in Northern Michigan

Regardless of the solution, you select, considering the architecture and design of your home will help your privacy plans to blend seamlessly. While planning your landscape design, thinking about privacy is not the most exciting part of the process, but it may be one of the most important.

With the right landscape designer, your additions for privacy can serve more than one purpose. Additional plantings or a unique courtyard screening can add beauty and peace to your space. A pavilion can extend your time outside beyond our beautiful summer season. We hope that some of these solutions can offer you the bit of privacy you have been craving!

Interested in enhancing your privacy in Grand Traverse or Leelanau County, MI? If so, meet with our team of experts, choose a solution to improve your property, and get ready to go from stressed and overwhelmed to calm and organized.

Get started today with a consultation!

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