Landscaping

Garden Screening Ideas For Outdoor Privacy

wooden garden screening with potted plants below
Written by Chris Lee

There’s nothing quite like relaxing in your garden, especially on a warm summer’s day. Making sure you can relax in comfort and privacy is an important part of effective garden design, and garden screening is a popular way to achieve this.

This guide introduces garden screening and outlines the ways it can be used to bolster your outdoor space.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is garden screening?
  • How it differs from fencing and hurdles.
  • Reasons to use screening in your garden.
  • The materials available for garden screening.
  • How to install screening on an existing fence.
  • How to install screening on a specially built framework.
  • Places to buy garden screening.
  • Other things you should know.

So let’s get started!

What is garden screening?

We’ll clear up definitions first, because there can be confusion between fencing, hurdles, and screening. Each serves a similar purpose in your garden – that is, providing a vertical border – but each works slightly differently.

Fencing is freestanding and usually refers to solid materials like wooden panels or planks. 

Hurdles are designed to be more decorative and are often made by weaving thin horizontal strips of wood between vertical posts. They are freestanding and have gaps that allow air to pass through, meaning they are able to withstand strong weather.

Screening is similar to hurdles, but is designed to mount on an existing fence or a specially made framework rather than standing freely.

weaved screening next to brick and soil
The weave design typical of hurdles and screening

Why use garden screening?

Screening is a great way to section off different areas in your garden, or to lend style to the borders you already have. Putting a border around the back of a flower bed, for example, or maybe even surrounding a hot tub if you have the luxury of owning one!

It’s also good for hiding border fences, especially if they do not visually complement your garden. Sometimes you don’t have much say in the design of fences shared with neighbours – especially if they were already there when you moved in – and screening can be a great way to reclaim this control of how your garden looks.

People also use screening to provide shade: perhaps you have a seating area in your garden that catches a bit too much sunlight at certain hours, and you want to block it off? Screening is perfect for situations like this.

It can be used in this way to make areas of your garden more private, providing an inoffensive option that prevents people from seeing in. If you want to sunbathe but are worried about neighbours peering out of their windows, you could use garden screening to block their line of sight.

Often materials are chosen which blend in and contribute to the overall design of your garden. Let’s take a look at some of the more common materials.

Which materials can you use for garden screening?

Thanks to gardening being ever-popular, you have lots of choice when choosing materials and styles for your garden screening.

You have the option of synthetic or natural materials, and each brings its own benefits.

When chosen well, screening can be a design feature in your garden. Either a subtle boundary between sections, or a focal point that flowerbeds and other features can be designed around.

The first decision you’ll need to make when choosing which material to go for is whether you want the primary role of your garden screening to be form or function.

Reed

One of the most prevalent types of garden screen, sold in rolls that you simply unroll and fasten to an existing fence, or to stakes.

Reed is cheap, attractive, and easy to use.

Thatch

This takes advantage of a traditional roof-making technique that uses heather, rushes, straw, and other materials to create a strong, dense barrier.

Thatch has a distinct aesthetic and will bring a rustic feel to any garden.

Bamboo

This fast-growing plant can grow by 91cm in a day, in optimal conditions. Unleashing this on your garden may not sound ideal, but it can be planted in special containers designed to restrict growth by stifling the roots after a certain point.

Having a natural bamboo screen in your garden is a great way to bring an exotic feel.

natural bamboo screening with pant, frame and teapot

Sticks and branches

You can build your own screen with found sticks and branches, held onto a supporting frame with wire. This has the benefit of being very low cost, and it brings an undeniably rustic feel to any garden.

A tree

By clipping branches onto a mesh and pruning others, you can encourage a tree to grow in such a way that it provides a natural screen. This is the only type of screen that will provide you fruit! Although bear in mind that over winter, when the leaves fall off, the privacy it provides may be reduced.

Climbing plants on a trellis

Riffing on the theme of a living screen, climbing plants can be let loose on a trellis to provide an attractive natural barrier. You can create different aesthetics by choosing different plants: do you want an ivy or a more elaborate vertical garden?

Steel

To take advantage of the interplay between natural and manmade, you can use screening made of steel (or another metal).

This will create quite a different feel to the other materials in this list, which have a strong emphasis on natural elements. Your garden will get a lift from this bold, modern screen.

It’s worth knowing that artificial variations on many of the natural materials above can be used too. These provide a good option for gardeners who want the visual impact of reed, thatch, or bamboo, but also want something that will last a bit longer.

How to install garden screening

Screening is designed to be attached to an existing fence or to a specially made framework. Here we include instructions for attaching the screening to fencing, wall, and frames.

For each of these methods, the screening should be bound at regular intervals of 10cm horizontally, and 50cm vertically. This ensures it will stay safely mounted at all times.

Mounting screening on an existing fence

You can drill holes in the fence and screw the screening in place to provide a sturdy attachment. If the screening material is more lightweight you can use staples, cable ties, or wire instead.

Mounting screening on walls

The process is similar to mounting on a fence, but you will need to use plugs to receive the screws. If you want to minimise the amount of drilling, you can hang wires from drilled holes and attach the screening to that instead (again, cable ties are useful here).

Mounting screening on special supports

If you are putting screening somewhere without an existing wall or fence, you’ll need to build a framework to mount it on.

This involves erecting stakes along the path you want to screen: one at each end, and several in between at intervals of around 50cm. You can run wire between each stake, and attach the screening to that with staples or cable ties.

Where can you get garden screening?

As a popular and cost-effective garden design option, screening is available from a huge range of retailers. Names like Homebase, B&M, Wilko, and B&Q all have large selections of garden screening.

You can also get the materials you need for screening from nature: if you decide to build a screen from branches and sticks, it’s just a case of going outdoors and collecting the relevant materials.

Other things to know about garden screening

Screening is perfect for hanging fairy lights, or other outdoor lighting. The combination of screen and light can create a real cosy area to relax in your garden.

If you go for screening that involves plants, you should understand how the plants you choose will grow. Some require assistance in clinging to a trellis, while others will happily wind themselves upward of their own accord.

Garden trellis made from steel with intertwined plants

And there you have it…

Garden screening is a popular and versatile way of creating vertical borders in your garden, and these can be used to provide structure and privacy to your outdoor space.

A wide variety of materials can be used for garden screening, ranging from natural – bamboo, thatch, etc – to manmade. Your budget and preferred style will guide the decision on the best screening material for your garden.

Installing screening is relatively easy: it’s just a case of mounting it on a wall, a fence, or on a specially constructed frame.

Hopefully this guide has been informative, and you now have the information you need to find the perfect screening for your garden.

About the author

Chris Lee

Chris is interested in nature and the good things that happen when people are in it. He is a freelance writer, with writing published about cycling, green living, and ways to make a difference without fundamentally restructuring your lifestyle.

Leave a Comment