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Screening garden from neighbours when it rises up from the house

We've recently bought a house with a garden that slopes up from the house. It is a victorian semi-detached house with a largely rectangular garden of about 27m long and 8m wide. The houses in the row all run in a straight line with the gardens all running in straight lines back from the houses. There is a patio that extends to about 6m from the house and is level with the house, but then the lawn is up 5 steps, which is about 1m above the patio, and from that point on, the rest of the garden slopes gradually up from there so at the rear its probably 1.5m-2m+ higher than the patio and the house. We are joined to the neighbours on the left side and as the they have many screening trees and shrubs in their garden we can't see them very much, but we have non-adjoining neighbours on the right side (when looking from the house into the garden) and on that side we can see into their garden and be seen in ours.

When we bought the house there was a large tree which screened the garden from the neighbours but we have had to remove it on the advice of the surveyor as it was too near the sewer. We have now been left with a very exposed stretch of patio with no plants and because the garden rises up, we feel like we're in a goldfish bowl in the garden and are completely on show to the neighbours on this side. As it turns out, they aren't the friendliest people which is making me feel quite uncomfortable when I go out into the garden. 

I'm looking for some suggestions as to how we can create some privacy quickly. Even with a taller fence, the neighbours can see everything we do in the whole of the garden from their upstairs windows as their eyeline runs at 45 degrees across the patio and onto the lawn. We can't plant any new trees in the patio area due to the sewer. I'm guessing we could use some potted plants, but they would need to be at least 7m tall in order to begin to provide any screening. I'd love some suggestions please, I've searched the internet relentlessly but I'm struggling to find any articles or photos that highlights the specific problem of a garden that rises up from the houses. Thanks 


  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 12,178
    Bumping this up, but it may also help if you could please post a couple of photos @flipjango :)
  • My guess is that the clever use of trellis screens and pergolas with climbers to create secluded areas within your garden will be a possible solution  … but we do really need to see some photos to give us a real picture. 

    I would add that we are similarly situated at the bottom of a slope , with the houses to the side and rear all being higher up than us … I have honestly never seen anyone looking out of their upstairs windows at us in all the 11+ years that we’ve been here. 

    We’ve created a secluded terrace with trellis and a grapevine, a potted fig and other large plants like cannas, and an espaliered pear … we often eat out there in the summer and never feel overlooked. 😊 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358
    Photos are key to getting help @flipjango. It's very difficult to make suggestions without seeing the site.   :)
    Having said that - @Dovefromabove's suggestions re screens with trellis or similar, are usually the answer. Impossible to be accurate though without a pic or two.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • flipjangoflipjango Posts: 13
    edited December 2022
    Sorry, I don't feel comfortable posting pictures- the neighbours are pretty unfriendly and should they ever come across this thread, I can only see it making that worse! 
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,490
    You probably feel really self-conscious about being overlooked because it’s all new to you but apart from maybe a bit of initial curiosity about the new neighbours, most people don’t actually spend much time upstairs and even less peering out the windows or over fences and even less than that during winter. So you may be worrying about a problem that isn’t there.

    All you can do is take up Dove’s suggestions of strategically placed pergolas, tall trellis-backed planters etc, perhaps erect some sail shades for an instant solution to create privacy where you feel most exposed/will spend the most time.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Ok … understood 😊 

    could you draw us a plan of what you have now with approximate measurements?

    When we get more of an idea of the dimensions we might be able to recommend a book or two with appropriate ideas … also perhaps some gardens that you could visit to get ideas. 

    Do you have children and/or pets that need to be taken into consideration when planning your layout and the positioning of screening?  

    💡 Do you want to grow any veg?  For example, since we had a large ash tree taken down because it was diseased, we now position our tall runner bean canes each summer so that they give even more screening in the garden. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358
    A simple screen or pergola with climbers is the easiest solution, but it also depends how you , and any other family members, use the space   :)
    Plenty of shrubs would also create a screen, but it also depends on the real space you have for them, and you'd have to be prepared to wait for them to mature. It can also mean a lot of shade in the space, depending on the aspect.
    The location of the sewer access will also determine what you plant, but bear in mind that insurance companies can have a knee jerk reaction to a lot of plants. The space you have for planting is what matters, and your general climate and conditions. What thrives in a sheltered town garden, won't survive in an exposed garden in the north.  :)

    I would agree too that it's probably highly unlikely that the neighbours are constantly watching or monitoring you. It's also quite unlikely they'd look on here, unless they're keen gardeners.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,565
    As others have said, you might be best off subdividing the garden a bit, so you create areas that can be individually screened a bit more easily. 

  • I'm afraid I'm not very artistic but I've attempted to draw the garden to give you an idea of how it works. Its south (or slightly south west) facing.  It would probably be hard to use anything other than pots at the patio level as its all hardstanding. 

    The area where the patio meets the lawn is currently curved but our intention is to take that back to make a straight line with a bit more patio. The patio is more private than the lawn as the neighbours house extends a bit further than ours does and offers some screening to the patio. They would have to lean out of their windows to see us on the patio But the bare patio is still the problem because it is a very open sightline between our houses upper windows and the neighbours garden and theirs to ours. I can't fail to see their kids in the garden when I go into any upstairs room at the back of the house. I'm reluctant to use a pergola or sail shade on the patio as we have a long typical victoria) house with an extension and it tends to be dark in the middle rooms so we need to get as much natural light in through the rear windows as possible. 

    @Dovefromabove the lawn is heavily used as a football pitch by my children, and we had intended to build a garden building at the end of the garden where there are currently 2 sheds which we'd use as a gym and office, but this is currently very overlooked from next door. We don't really grow veg, but use our garden heavily for eating, for the kids, and for parties and barbecues in the summer.

    I take on board what you and @Nollie say about people not looking out of their windows, but I constantly feel like I'm looking down at their children in the garden whenever I'm in an upstairs room, which I don't like.  Ideally I don't want to see them at all I'm afraid. It really is VERY exposed at the moment. 

  • zugeniezugenie Posts: 834
    edited December 2022
    From the drawing I’m not convinced they could see much of your patio at all without hanging out a window, that’s assuming the windows are on the back of the house not the side.

    could you add some trees/shrubs in a border in the lawn area (against the fence between you)?

    a pergola on the patio would probably be the best solution for overhead privacy, though probably not as close to the doors as I have doodled it!

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