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Solace and Solitude: How to create a private, backyard oasis

Backyard oasis stock
Open fencing and porch screens can add style and privacy. (Source: Adobe Stock)

After cold winter weather and months of quarantine, many people are itching for the opportunity to get outdoors again. Backyards offer the perfect escape from the typical four walls of home, but with the bonus of not needing to take an extra trip or make special plans.

However, spending time in one’s yard can mean intrusions from neighbors or others. With a few tweaks and additions, any backyard of any size can be turned into a private getaway that offers a blend of solace and solitude.

Grow a living wall. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, plants provide shade and coverage to backyard spaces. Explore options like bamboos, evergreens and other ornamental grasses that can provide cover and color to any backyard space. Remember that different types of plants thrive in different soil and sun conditions. To find the greenery selection that will look best in your yard, consult a professional landscaper to make sure the plants aren’t just beautiful going into the ground, but that they stay thriving for spring and months to come.

As a starting place, the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Plants of Merit list can provide a few contenders.

One of the new 2021 plants is elephant’s ear, an annual that grows large, pale green leaves and requires medium maintenance. Lilyturf grasses are grass-like perennials that can grow to be 12-18 inches tall. In addition to being durable, they provide good ground cover, meaning they can fill spaces where weeds may attempt to pop up.

Elephant's ear plant
Elephant’s ear is a medium-maintenance annual that can provide a lot of coverage. (Source: The Missouri Botanical Garden)

Conceal with color. When it comes to organic outdoor privacy, green isn’t the only color option. Caladiums, also known as Heart of Jesus, grow leaves similar in size to elephant ears but come in shades like red and pink, which can add color to an otherwise green space.

Forsythia is a low-maintenance, fast-growing flowering shrub that belongs to the olive family but is most popularly known for its bright yellow flowers. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, forsythia has a bloom window from between March to April, meaning they’ll often be the first plant to provide color in an otherwise bare garden. It also made the garden’s Plants of Merit list in 2020. Madevilla plants are a type of tropical and subtropical flowering vine that thrives in late spring and summer heat, making it a perfect contender to create coverage near and around swimming pools or other water features.

Create a gate or fence. Privacy fencing can feel like an extreme option, so as an in-between measure, try lattice fencing. The structure has an open grid pattern that provides cover and versatility. Fences with larger gaps between the panels can provide privacy without fully blocking your view from your backyard.

Matching the fence to the home’s exterior will give it a timeless look.

 It should be noted that different municipalities have different permit requirements for adding fences around a home or yard’s perimeter. While some municipalities may require a permit for all fences, some may only require it if a fence reaches certain heights, like over 6 feet. 

Before scheduling any work, reach out to your home owners association to find out what process needs to be followed to install your choice of fence legally.

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