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Over looked garden ideas

Hi, I'm writing to request some advice on what to grow or design in my garden to give me some much needed privacy. I've tried to search for this but can't find anything that addresses the problems I have. Also, i realise that some people don't agree with or understand the need for privacy and if you are one of those please don't respond as I'm feeling distressed by the situation already.

Basically, I've moved to a new build a couple of years ago and the garden which is north facing but gets a lot of sunshine due to only have my house facing it. The garden was a blank canvas with clay soil etc like most new builds but the garden backs onto what I thought were houses but are 6 flats behind.  Therefore, I thought it was bedrooms overlooking me and I didn't mind as most people are in bedrooms but it turns out that it is living rooms with a balcony. To make matters worse they are social housing(no I'm not a snob) which means that the people there do not seem to work so they are leaning out the balcony smoking and looking into my garden during the day and night. They do not close their curtains and I feel as I do not have any privacy at all. It is so bad that I'm thinking of selling up and moving although the house itself is lovely inside. So I wondered if there was any advice on what I could plant or do to increase the privacy. I have attached a photo although I have removed what looks like a bush at the end but turned out to be a tree that the former owner planted but did not take properly. Thanks in advance for any ideas.



  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391
    I think you need a few strategically placed garden trees along the top and right side boundaries.  You could also consider a structure such an arbor with trellis built half-way down and across the garden.  Due to perspective and the angles, that would give half of your garden and the downstairs windows of your house an effective privacy screen.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,723
    If you want something fairly instant I would go for a pergola across the edge or your patio or a bit further away. Strategically placed trees would take time to grow. It's possible to buy tall trees but they take some getting into position, are harder to establish and cost £££.
  • Thanks Bob, I haven't thought of the arbor with trellis across the garden. I love arbors but thought I have to give up the idea in my garden. As for the trees, any suggestions? Or do I go for the much dreaded leylandi?
  • Thanks Jenny and Philippa, Yes my house is two storey and I would love to have privacy in my downstairs windows too as I have blinds that I leave partly closed all day. But I think I would just love any privacy in the garden especially sitting out for a meal. I know I should have done better research when I bought the house so I do blame myself. I will look into the pergola/arbor idea though. Cheers for ideas
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,298
    I too would go for the arbour ... draped with some lovely climbers you could make yourself a real sanctuary for reading, writing, dining or just lazing with a ☕ or 🍷 ... that way you'll really feel that you've taken ownership of your garden ... you could even have a little water feature by the arbour so that the sound of trickling water takes precedence for you over any sounds your neighbours might make.  

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391
    I'd personally avoid leylandii as they'll suck all of the water from the surrounding area and you won't be able to grow much in the borders near them.  Presumably, the balconies are only really used when it gets warm so you could go for deciduous trees which leaf-up early, such as Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer, for example.  Hopefully, others will also make suggestions.  If one particular balcony is a real problem, then maybe use a leylandii for that.
    Whatever trees you plant will take time to grow enough so I'd prioritise the arbor/pergola if possible.  A structure with trellis and some quick-growing climbers such as sweet peas and morning glory could have you sitting outside in privacy for this summer, while planning what trees would be best to plant. :)
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • AuntyRachAuntyRach Posts: 4,787
    I think a structure will be the best bet. You won’t be able to plant anything that will block the view, so maybe think laterally and just make the space a real haven. I would design seating and planting so that you are facing your house when you are sitting so you are enveloped in your plants and don’t have the visual distraction of seeing others. If you have a pergola, or similar, then you could create some interest at height with climbers and even make a ‘wall’ of plants around/behind it so that is your backdrop when sitting. 
    I like the idea of some water to add sound too. 
    My garden and I live in South Wales. 
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,587
    What you need is perspective.  Sit in your favourite seat in your living room and look up to the height of a person standing on one of those balconies.   Then you will see how high a pergola or arbour needs to be to block your view of them and theirs of you.

    Your pergola could be any size and shape you need and covered with climbers or not.  Have a look here for some ideas -  

    You could plant a tree at the back and build the pergola/arbour on a level with the front of your shed.   I wouldn't go for tall, evergreen trees as your garden would lose light and sunshine and they would suck up too much water.   What you want is a smaller, airier, deciduous tree whose branches will give a filigree effect in winter when, presumably, few people will stand out on their balconies.  I'd suggest a snake bark maple or a sorbus or a prunus serrulata or, if you have acid soil, maybe a liquidambar, all of which will give you plenty of interest thru the seasons.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,531
    May I put in a plea for your bothersome neighbours?  I've spent most of my life living in flats and pining for a garden, because I couldn't afford a house. If any of my neighbours had invited me to help them tend their garden, I'd have loved them for ever.  Your flat-dwelling neighbours may well be envious of you, and gazing at your lovely well-tended garden may be one of their few pleasures in life.  People in social housing with nothing to do all day often have mental health problems; gardening has been shown time after time to be therapeutic.

    If this suggestion offends you, please just ignore it. I'm not meaning to find fault with you.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,201
    Pergola, arbour, wooden/trellis screens are relatively simple to construct, and can be inexpensive.
    The main thing is to look at where you would like to sit, or dine etc, and work it out from there.
    Trust me - a few decent posts, concreted in, and some trellis attached makes a very effective screen even before you put any plants/climbers in  :)
    Having a nice seating/dining area will also add value, should you decide to sell. Not necessarily financially , but certainly in 'kerb appeal' as they like to call it. 

    Also - there are plenty of private homeowners who can be just as unpleasant as anyone else.  The guy who lives across the back from me is an ar**hole of the highest order  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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