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Elevate Your Outdoor Sanctuary in Sonoma County with Smart Planting Strategies for Ultimate Privacy and Beauty

Using plants to create privacy

When stepping outside into your backyard to relax, the last thing anyone wants is to feel seen by neighbors. With modern lot sizes shrinking in newer homes, or rows of houses built perpendicularly along a slope, it can often feel like your private yard really isn't all that private. Thankfully there are a handful of ways to use plants to block vantage points in and out of your space while maintaining a natural feel and aesthetically pleasing appearance. Here are 8 of our suggestions on how to enhance the privacy of your yard.

Invest in Larger Plant Sizes

Although 1 to 5-gallon plant sizes may seem more attractive based on their cost, screening shrubs and trees at those sizes can take years before reaching a height and width that actually serves their intended purpose. We recommend opting for 15-gallons pots or larger for those particularly barren or exposed views, and saving the smaller stuff for layering in front of them. 


The artful layering of tall plants chosen to enhance privacy with complementary smaller plant varieties will create a more organic flow and natural feel to your yard. Although planting a single row of tall plants may be all it takes to obscure your view of your neighbor's bedroom window, the artificiality of it might actually draw more attention to what you are trying to block out. Leaning into variety will also make your garden more resilient against bugs and diseases. 

Plant with Precision

Before you start plant shopping, look around from the places you spend the most time in your yard to identify the things you hope to hide, such as your neighbor's bedroom windows, their common backyard hangout spots, garbage cans, or something unsightly. Once you've decided on those elements, figure out where along those lines of sight you need to place your plants and how many you will need. Hint - maybe you only need to block a few spots rather than a whole line of screening. 

Match Plant to Space

Even if you bought a large-sized specimen to begin with, do your research on exactly how large its mature size can get. Don't make the mistake of picking something out because you like the size it's at now, because it may be completely overtaking your main walking path in 3 years' time. 

Go Vertical

If your lot is fairly small, there are a variety of trees that can be planted to screen a view that won't crowd out your limited real estate. We suggest looking into varieties of arborvitae, cypress, cedar, and juniper. Bamboo can also be a nice alternative if traditional evergreen columnar varieties aren't quite the aesthetic you are going for. Just make sure to always plant bamboo in enclosed beds or strong containers. Galvanized stock tank planters look great with bamboo. 

Redirect Attention

Consider adding some eye-catching focal elements to your space to draw attention away from things outside of your yard you'd rather not be staring at. Large planters filled with colorful annuals, sculptures and garden art, bubbling water features that attract birds, or even just a thoughtfully located seating area that faces away from eyesores can all direct your attention away from outside elements beyond your control. 

Cover a Trellis with Vines

If you've got a tighter space in between your house and fence, but still want to use the space for potential seating or a hot tub, one option that can really make the space feel special is a vine-covered overhead lattice - such as a pergola or horizontal trellis that bridges the tight gap. In narrow spaces, screening shrubs or trees are generally the less suitable option, as they'll end up encroaching upon the usable space. Vines draping over and through an attractive trellis will completely knock out the view to your neighbor's second-story balcony or window to provide you with an area that is both private and lush. 

Don't Get in Over Your Head

Designing a yard that you can trust will feel private, beautiful, and functional for years to come can be a very challenging task, even for go-getter DIY folks that jump into the project with enthusiasm. The bottom line and best piece of advice we can give you is to know when to get help! We pride ourselves on our ability to dream up creative solutions to our clients' privacy concerns while emphasizing the more important aspects of your dream yard. And as a design + build landscaping business, we are able to follow your project through to its completion in order to ensure your satisfaction.

Contact us today, and let's start the process to transform your backyard into the private paradise you deserve. Your dream yard awaits – reach out to us now!

LandZen Landscape Design & Construction


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