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Ingenious Ways to Regain Privacy From Second Story Neighbors

Privacy from second story neighbors

It’s unfortunate that we can’t control the spaces surrounding our properties. And while we may have enjoyed years of a beautiful backyard sanctuary, one remodel project from our next door neighbor can leave us feeling like our outdoor spaces are ruined.

If your neighbors have recently built an second story addition or are regularly enjoying a second story deck or balcony, you may be feeling like you’re living in a fishbowl.

But, hope is not lost! There are lots of creative solutions to this common problem. Here are some ingenious ideas for reclaiming your privacy from second story neighbors.

3 Top Ways to Regain Privacy in Your Backyard

There are three main ways to recreate a private backyard when it’s being viewed from an area above the first story:

  • Block your neighbor’s view from your property or fence line.
  • Create more privacy around your own outdoor garden rooms.
  • Convince your neighbor to install privacy screening on their second story deck.
The 3 main ways to create privacy from a second story view are to screen from (1) from the property/fence line, (2) from your outdoor space or (3) from your neighbor’s second story space. Drawing by PrettyPurpleDoor.

All three of these options have their pros and cons, so keep reading to see some examples of how you can use each concept.

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1- Block a Neighbor’s View from the Property/Fence Line

This is the most obvious solution to the problem, but also comes with its challenges. While it may seem simple, creating screening at a second story height means screening very high up… like… way up.

My biggest tip for doing this is do not increase your fence line across your entire property, unless you have to. This can lead to feeling like you’re living inside of Fort Knox. Instead, stand or sit in the area of your backyard that you use often and make a note of the area of the fence line that will give you the best chance at blocking your neighbors on their second story deck.

Creating privacy from two story neighbor at fenceline
Using strategic placement of privacy screens, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or increase the entire height of your fence… just place the screen between their view and where you want privacy. Drawing by PrettyPurpleDoor.

There are many options for materials to use for your privacy screen. So, you’ll have to do some research to decide which type of screening is right for you and gives you the look you want to achieve at the budget you have in mind. Here are some of my favorites:

Natural Elements as a Privacy Screen

Natural elements like trees or vines that will grow up a trellis and block the view are a great option to provide privacy in the places you need it most. In addition, many trees and shrubs have the secondary benefit of blocking noise! Here are some narrow evergreen trees that are great for privacy, especially in tight spaces. Narrow deciduous and flowering trees are also a great option if you don’t need privacy in the winter months. You can also create a wonderful privacy hedge with evergreen shrubs. These 5-6′ evergreen shrubs are the perfect size for home landscapes.

Tree providing privacy above the fenceline
This tree is taking up virtually zero space in the lawn but it’s large canopy extends far above the fence line. When strategically placed this is a really great option for blocking a neighbor’s second story view. Image Source

The variety of tree depends on where you are located in the world, but in this situation I think anything goes. If you want the look above, try a smaller deciduous tree such as:

If you want to create year-round privacy, you should opt for evergreen trees or shrubs. Evergreens will keep their foliage all year long. Evergreens are especially important in colder climates where many plants die back to the ground. Using evergreens means you don’t have to deal with a wide open (non-private) yard over the winter months.

Quick Tip: If you want to create privacy using trees, check out my post about planting privacy trees to get more ideas plus all the details about planting and spacing them out properly.

Using vines to create privacy from second story neighbors
Similar to trees, rambling vines growing along trellis, fences and arbors can create a beautiful and functional privacy screen. Image Source

Training a vine to climb along a trellis, fence or arbor is another great natural option that you can try. Boston ivy is the go-to vine for situations like this, but I would plant this with extreme caution. There are many other options that will require less maintenance.

Boston Ivy Vine
Boston Ivy Vine

Boston ivy is a fast-growing, woody vine that sends out tendrils that can grip onto surfaces or even trail as a groundcover if you prefer. Very tiny white flowers appear on the ivy in the spring and develop into small black berries. In the fall, the glossy dark green leaves will turn a deep scarlet in preparation for the coming winter. If you’d like to incorporate this graceful plant into your garden or home, you’ll need to practice regular pruning to keep it manageable. (Zones 4-8, Part Sun, 30-50’H x 5-10’W) Shop Here

Mandevilla Pretty Pink Tropical Vine
Mandevilla ‘Pretty Pink’

Rocktrumpet (mandevilla) vines are attractive, blooming vines that will give your space a tropical feel. An excellent choice for home gardeners, rocktrumpet blooms abundantly for months with trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of red, pink or white. . It can be grown as a perennial that comes back each year in warmer regions. Or, if you’re in a colder area like me you can purchase it as an annual (which I do every year!) (Zones 9-11, Full-Part Sun, 10-20’H x 2-3’W) Shop Here

Quick Tip: Check out my post about vines and groundcovers to get more ideas for what you can use to create this beautiful look.

Faux Plants to Create Privacy

Another option is to purchase faux plant privacy panels for instant privacy. This is a great option to get some privacy right now… while you work on a more permanent option.

Faux Ivy Privacy Panels

Purchase artificial greenery privacy screen panels like this in classic boxwood or greenery with white flowers for instant privacy from your neighbors. These come in squares of 20×20″ that snap together and can be purchased in sets. A set of 12 panels would cover an area of about 6-3/4′ high by 5′ wide for less than $150.

Fencing Solutions for Privacy Screening

There are also many fencing solutions available to screen out the view of your neighbors. Here are some ideas you may not have thought about, though.

What I’ve found is that just building a fence isn’t always the best option. Consider building a tall arbor that has a “hat” or roof on the top. This will increase the privacy even that much more. That’s because the roof will block a view looking down from above… which is the exact problem you’re trying to resolve!

Grape Arbor along fenceline for privacy from two-story neighbors
An arbor is a great solution for privacy from your second story neighbors when built strategically along the fenceline to block views from above. Image Source

Plus, you can use this arbor to create your very own backyard grape vine! Step by step instructions to build this grape arbor are available here.

If you don’t want to go outward with an arbor, you can always go upward by extending your fence above it’s current height. I think that building a fence is the most obvious solution to the problem that you’re having. But, I’d encourage you to try to think outside the box when choosing the materials for your fence extension.

Fence extension for privacy from two story neighbors
Extend your privacy by extending your fence. This lattice addition over the existing stone wall increases privacy without closing in the area too much. Image Source

I really like this option, where lattice is used above a stone fence. Using a different material that is semi-private is a great way to add privacy without making your yard feel too claustrophobic.

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2- Create Privacy Around Your Own Outdoor Spaces

Most homeowners will look to the property line to create privacy and find themselves struggling with creating enough height to actually reclaim their backyard sanctuary. But, creating privacy near your outdoor living spaces can be an easier and more cost effective solution. Plus, it’s an opportunity to really reimagine your own space and create focal points and intimacy within your own backyard.

So ask yourself… is it really necessary to screen the view of the neighbors from my entire backyard? Or, are there just some spaces in particular that I want to remain private?

If your answer is the latter, here are some options for creating your own little rooms within your own backyard instead of fortress-ing off your entire property.

Enclose your outdoor living space with decorative panels

Metal fence panels to enclose your space and hide it from the neighbors view
These decorative metal fence panel inserts will give you more privacy and also something beautiful to look at while you’re dining outside. Image Source

I love how the panels in this example are used both on the sides and on the ceiling. Adding privacy to the ceiling/roof of your outdoor area will definitely help with the privacy issues from above.

Here are some decorative metal panels I love:

  • 24×15″ decorative metal fence panel insert (Shop on Amazon)
  • 2×4′ decorative metal screen panel (multiple colors available) (Shop on Amazon)
  • 2×4′ decorative metal privacy panels, jungle design (Shop on Amazon)

Add a sheek curtain roof to your pergola or gazebo

Curtain roof for privacy screening from two story neighbors
Weaving curtains in and out of the roof of a pergola or gazebo will give you more privacy from above while not completely blocking out the sunshine and fresh air. Image Source

Or, for a different effect you can try some beautiful, billowy curtains as a roof instead of the metal panels. This is a great look and again will help with that much needed privacy from above!

Screen the view with a beautiful focal point

Not totally digging the roof? You can also use these panels singularly to screen the view.

Decorative metal screen on raised posts to create privacy from neighbors
This decorative metal panel stands tall with beams that raise it to higher heights. Image Source

By building posts and mounting a beautiful decorative metal frame inside of them, you can create privacy at the exact height you need it. Plus, it will create a beautiful focal point in your own garden.

Add privacy screens around your space

You can also strategically screen off your private spaces with a plethora of different materials. What I love about this is that you can use virtually ANY material to do this… and it can be a really cost effective AND creative way to block your neighbor’s second-story view.

Here are some of my favorite ideas:

Use blinds to screen second story neighbors view
Installing blinds is an easy and cost-effective solution to privacy issues in the backyard. Plus, you can raise and lower them as needed. Image Source

Using blinds or even curtains is a great way to create privacy… if you have a place where you can install them… like a covered porch, pergola or gazebo. Here are some options you can try:

You may be thinking… that’s great but I don’t have a covered porch or structure so this won’t work for me. But, there are other ways you can use this same idea to create privacy!

Use a large planter with tall grass to creative privacy from neighbor's deck
Use a large planter filled with tall grass or bamboo to creative privacy from neighbor’s deck Image Source
Mobile rolling privacy screen to block out second story neighbors
This ingenious lattice privacy screen has been outfitted with wheels so it can be moved around your yard where privacy is needed. Image Source
PVC Sheet screen for privacy from second story neighbor
If your budget is limited, try making a simple frame out of PVC pipe and attaching a curtain or sheet to it in a pretty color or pattern. You may need to put some rocks on top of the feet to hold it in place, but that’s a small price to pay to regain your privacy! Image Source
Wattle Fencing for Privacy from 2-story neighbors
If you’re looking for something a bit more stylish, perhaps wattle fencing is the option for you. Create privacy with a beautiful and naturalistic material. Image Source

Wattle is a lightweight construction material made by weaving thin branches (either whole, or more usually split) or slats between upright stakes to form a woven lattice. It’s a common fencing material in cottage-style gardens and is also used to make fences and hurdles for enclosing ground or handling livestock.

These types of fences are very popular in the UK but not so much in the US. I’m not sure why because they are just beautiful. You can make your own by weaving branches, such as willow or bamboo, in and out and tying them off to secure them in place. Or, you can even purchase premade willow fencing.

  • Here’s a tutorial to create your own wattle fence.
  • Willow Woven Hurdle Panel 72″W x 36″H, Set of 3 (Shop on Amazon)

3- Convince Your Neighbor to Install Privacy Screening on their Second Story Deck

I know that convincing your neighbor to install screening isn’t going to be a solution for everyone… especially if you don’t have a great relationship with them.

But if you do get along with your neighbors, this is worth a try.

Your neighbors may not even realize that their large second story deck that cost them tens of thousands of dollars has actually made you unhappy. In fact, I almost guarantee that they haven’t taken your feelings into consideration when embarking on the project.

So… why not tell them that you’re unhappy with your lack of privacy?

This may or may not go well. But, don’t worry! You’ll be armed with some beautiful examples of ways they can screen off portions of their deck. In fact, it will add to the intimacy and privacy of their new living space as well!

Creating Privacy from second story neighbor with deck screening
This option can work for screening your own deck… or if you don’t have a deck perhaps you can convince your neighbor to add some privacy screens and curtains to their new second story balcony. Image Source

As I mentioned, a lattice wall is a great screening option for your own deck to provide a bit more privacy without feeling closed in. I love how the lattice looks flanked by these outdoor curtains in fresh citrus green (shop here). It’s just beautiful!

But, what if you don’t HAVE a deck?

Bring this photo over to your neighbor to show them some ideas for creating their own intimate dining and hang out space from their new renovation. Odds are, they’ll be thanking you for giving them a great idea that they haven’t thought of. And, you’ll get your privacy back! So, it’s a win-win.

Wrapping Up

So, I hope that your mind is spinning with new ideas for creating privacy in your backyard from a second story neighbor. I hope that you see that there are many options to choose from to resolve this issue. So, you don’t have to be so upset. This can even be an opportunity for you to do something creative in your own yard that adds to the beauty and ambiance you want in your dream garden.

In this post we covered three main ways to recreate privacy in your backyard:

  1. Block your neighbor’s view from the property or fence line.
  2. Create more privacy around your own outdoor spaces.
  3. Convince your neighbor to install privacy screening on their second story deck.

I presented some out-of-the-box ideas to create screening using different materials. So… I’m wondering… what are your favorites? What do you think is the best solution to creating privacy from a second story neighbor?

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  1. Goid morning,
    Your suggestions are fabulous for home owners, but dont work for those of us in ground floor rental apartments with balconies situated directly above our yards. Rental units usually do not allow for any changes to existing fences. Other than gazebos ( which are frequently not allowed either) do you have any suggestions for how to obtain privacy from upstairs neighbours?

    1. I don’t see why you couldnt use many of these suggestions for your situation. Placing a tub with tall plants in it, putting up curtains or blinds, using framed wrought iron? I even have an option with a pvc pipe to make a temporary screen. Perhaps you need to go back and look at all of the options provided. If you just watched the video that was a consult for a home owner with a specific issue. The text has many many more suggestions.

  2. My neighbor from hell has a camera that looks into my back yard. If i go into my backyard she brings the dog out to waist near my fence, I need something to go above my 5ft fence to block the camera from looking into my back yard.

    1. Hi Kay. Are you looking for more ideas beyond the ones I’ve already provided in the article? I’m afraid these are the best ideas I have. I wish you luck!

    2. I have this same problem. I attached 4 by 8 foot lattice to my fence which extends above the 6 ft privacy fence, and it worked. So yesterday she had her uncle park a huge RV next to the fence which now the RV’s windows are higher than 8ft and she can see my entire back yard. I am going to have to buy faux ivy that goes above the 7.5 lattice…..this is harassment and absolutely ridiculous. Needless to say, I’m looking for houses to move.

  3. Can you please help, my neighbour has chopped down several large trees in his garden which has now made our back garden very exposed to his living room, which overlooks our whole garden (he lives in a three storey house. We have a 6 foot fence between our neighbour to the left and he lives next door to them. Their houses are located around the corner from our house add us a two storey house, however I don’t wish to block any of their light to garden on the left, any ideas please.

    1. I would say that many of the ideas in this post would work. Extending the fence with lattice above would provide privacy without blocking too much light especially if you just put the lattice right in line with your neighbors window. You could also block his view by positioning a screen directly next to the place where you sit or where you don’t want him to watch you. It’s all in the article, really. I don’t have ideas beyond what I wrote.

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