Our front yards set the scene for the rest of our homes – after all, first impressions count. But, not only can they add curb appeal, they can also be a means to create privacy, allowing your plot to feel less exposed to passers-by.
Whether it's subtly screening windows from street view or defining the boundaries of a lawn or driveway, factoring privacy into your front yard landscaping allows you to separate your living space from the outside world.
In doing so, your home can feel safer and more secure, and – if it's large enough – your front yard will become a more inviting zone to spend time in.
10 ways to make your front yard more private
Update the outdoor space at the front of your home with these garden privacy ideas.
1. Create impact with tall trees
'Even if you have a neighbor with a second-story window looking over your front yard, one well-placed tree can often be enough to block views, and is simpler to maintain than a heavy hedge,' says Camille Cimino, Landscape Designer of The Nature of Things. 'One tree can almost block out the whole second story. A standard "lollipop tree" shape with a single trunk can often be enough.'
Camille adds how they can be treated like living sculptures – 'there's a lot you can do with pruning to create the privacy and shade you need while letting in a lot of light and air.' Just be sure you prune at the right time, and stick to the 1/3 pruning rule. If you're unsure, particularly with larger trees, it's always best to hire a trained arborist to prune it for you.
If you're looking for compact front garden ideas, there are many trees suitable for small spaces. Or, if you only have pavers at the front of your home, you could plant a privacy tree in a pot. Remember to opt for evergreen varieties if you want to maintain the sense of privacy all year round.
Camille has been creating low-water landscape designs for more than a decade, and her clients include Hollywood A-listers and Los Angeles landmarks such as L.A.'s Museum of Natural History. Camille is also in charge of creating the lush plantings inside the Joey restaurant chain recently seen in an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and one of her landscapes was the setting for the 'Raccoon' episode of the show Grace and Frankie.
2. Combine a fence with a hedge to mark the perimeter of your plot
There are so many beautiful garden fence options to choose from that will instantly make your front yard more private.
A tall, solid design makes an effective screen, but it can make a smaller front yard feel a little boxed-in. A stylish and more relaxed alternative is to couple a lower, more-open fence with a dense, neatly-trimmed, evergreen hedge. There are some great fast-growing hedges available so you won't need to wait too long for your yard to feel more exclusive.
Add a matching gate to the setup, too, for an extra sense of security.
3. Elevate a garden wall with design features and planting
A taller garden wall or fence at the front of your plot is ideal for more built-up areas or to maximize the sense of security. It can also reduce the pressure for a pristine yard and the continuous maintenance this entails.
Painted in a crisp white shade with a window detail, this example feels bright and modern as opposed to oppressive. We love the raised bed in front, too, filled with super-low-maintenance succulents (including snake plants, available at Nature Hills).
Joe Raboine, the Vice President of Design at Belgard, warns that local ordinances can prohibit fences and screens, however – or at least limit them to a height of no more than three or maybe four feet. But, if this is the case in your region, he says that a low, free-standing wall can still create privacy.
'By defining that space as “your” space, it provides a sense of separation from the public space,' he says. However, it can also enable a feeling of community if and when wanted – especially if you create a seating area in your front yard, complete with a fire pit.
Joe Raboine is the Vice President of Design at Oldcastle APG, the parent company of Belgard. He often hosts webinars, assists with training events and trade shows, and presents at Belgard Universities and other industry events on current topics such as design trends, product innovations and industry best practices. As part of his role, he also oversees the Belgard Design Studio team.
4. Or, cover an existing boundary with pretty climbing plants
Whether you're trying to hide an ugly wall at the front of your yard or simply give your space a more whimsical, botanical feel, climbing plants are the answer – and an affordable one. They can also up the privacy levels of a slatted fence or trellis.
There are lots of privacy plants to choose from, and there are fast-growing, flowering options, too, which are a surefire way to create a warm welcome to guests. Consider growing annual climbers while your perennial plants establish, such as sweet peas or morning glory.
5. Fill raised beds with a structural planting scheme
Raised garden beds aren't just for growing veggies in your backyard. They're also a quick and easy option for upping the amount of greenery at the front of your home. What's more, their height, coupled with the planting itself, will create a natural screen wherever you want it, making your front yard and windows feel less on-show.
This scheme, created by Living Gardens Landscape Designs, features plenty of easy-care agaves and other succulents – perfect for a modern yard. However, ornamental grasses would be another stylish option for their lofty heights, or you could try drought-tolerant flowers for vibrant color (and to attract butterflies and bees).
6. Lift a planter up high on a front yard wall
Bryan Clayton, a landscaping expert and the CEO at GreenPal, explains how the strategic placement of taller elements can create a sense of privacy without the feeling of being trapped.
A good example of this is to top lower gate posts or a wall with a container planted with seasonal blooms. Choose trailing 'spiller' plants around the edges (such as petunias) with taller, 'thriller' plants in the center – the result will be a stunning display that will create a subtle screen, too.
If you don't have a wall, you could attach hanging baskets to the tops of fence railings instead, for a similar effect.
7. Create a living wall to define the boundaries
Vertical gardening is one of our favorite ways to bring more greenery into a compact space, and the approach can be utilized in a front yard, too. This example demonstrates a living wall that stylishly divides an entryway from a neighboring plot, giving the space more privacy.
It's much more interesting than a solid barrier, and will allow more light and air into the space, too. You can recreate the look using succulents from Nature Hills.
8. Consider the shape of your front yard path
The design of your front garden path can affect how private the space feels. Opt for one that gently meanders to your doorway, rather than going for clean, straight lines, as the latter won't allow much opportunity for screening with surrounding plants.
If you are creating a private seating area in your front yard, you only need plants or fencing to be around three feet tall, says Camille; 'the height you are at when you're seated.' That height is enough to create privacy, but allows you to have a view out to the street beyond, she says.
9. Build a curved wall with materials that complement the exterior of your home
Any hardscaping features, whether at the front or the back of your plot, should complement the exterior of your home for a harmonious aesthetic. This doesn't mean they need to completely match, but choosing materials in the same color scheme can do wonders.
Take this stone half wall, for instance, which mirrors the warm tones of the home. Note how the curved layout enables extra privacy for the front porch, too, as it allows space for a large screening shrub to be planted directly in front.
10. Add a water feature for audio privacy
Water features are a must-have for creating a sensory, soothing space, and they can be used in your front yard as well as out back. They create a stunning first impression, their stature can act as a screen, and the gentle noise they make can create an element of audio privacy – an aspect often overlooked.
This scene combines a fountain with an array of small, colorful trees for a beautiful, woodland-like view that will change with the seasons.
Choute Polystone Garden Fountain | $159.95 from Wayfair
This UV-resistant polystone water feature has a modern design and will up the ambiance of your front yard with its gentle trickling sound. The planter at the top means you can add extra height to the display with colorful blooms or lush foliage.
What mistakes should you avoid when creating front yard privacy?
'Some communities have regulations about the height of hedges or fences at the front of properties, so be aware of those rules,' says Camille Cimino, Landscape Designer of The Nature of Things.
She also advises against planting something very tall right at the edge of your property. 'It will not only block your views, but it can also feel unfriendly.' Instead, she suggests starting your planting back from the property line, which will also create a bit of 'forced perspective', making the plants seem taller.
Finally, Camille says to avoid very tall hedging plants. 'A lot of people go for something extra dense, but when you sit down in your front yard, you want to be able to see out and over.'
'As someone with over 22 years of experience in the landscaping business, I can tell you that while it's important to create privacy in your front yard, it's also important not to go overboard and create a fortress-like atmosphere that can detract from your home's curb appeal,' says Bryan Clayton of GreenPal.
'Sometimes, less is more, and there are ways to achieve privacy without sacrificing style,' he adds. So, remember to opt for lower barriers if possible and utilize plants – that way the space will stay light, airy, and attractive.
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The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then; over the years, she's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator. Having worked for Gardeningetc.com for two years, Holly now regularly writes about plants and outdoor living for Homes & Gardens.
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