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Garden privacy ideas

(34 Posts)
BlogOnTheTyne Thu 24-May-12 13:57:22

When we moved into our house, a main attraction was the fact that we weren't overlooked at all...until the neighbours decided to put a large trampoline against their fence plus kid's playhouse on stilts and the agricultural land on the other side was rented by people with horses who ride there a few times a day.

In each case, the height of any fence is far below the height of people overlooking - on a trampoline, playhouse and horseback. In fact, on the trampoline and playhouse, they can even see over the line of 8ft trees on one side.

Is there anything more we can do to retain a bit of privacy in our garden or will we have to accept that we're going to be overlooked indefinitely now, like many many people are of course?

There's no room for more trees and we wouldn't be allowed to raise the boundary height further.

The horse people are really nice and try not to be intrusive - from what we can see/ feel but the trampoline/playhouse people (with young DCs) have been v difficult about various things over the last few years, meriting us having to go to the police at one point to ask advice (long story). No longer on speaking terms with them. So we're looking for solutions on our side and within our control.

How might we rig up canvas shields/sheets or something, without this appearing ridiculously ott? Is there anything more discrete that we can do, as the summer arrives and we want to sunbathe?

Buna Thu 31-Jan-13 18:17:39

Hi I saw your message about privacy and felt sorry for you straight away. There is a perfect solution which is that you install Post and wire supports and have a row of trained pleached trees. The training keeps them two-dimensional, so to speak. It's a very elegant solution but the initial outlay is a bit expensive. I've got a gardening blog here on Mumsnet and if you want to track me down by messaging on it, I will send you some images. Good Luck. Catharine Howard's Garden Blog is it's name and mine too.

BlogOnTheTyne Wed 26-Sep-12 12:34:25

Thanks you, Tiggy, LadyM and Pannacotta. LadyMudand Pannacotta, thank your for your previous suggestions. From what I've found out, horse pasture is considered the same category as agricultural use and riding lessons, temporary stables and parking vehicles related to horse care all fall under the same category. So no hope there. Similarly, the treehouse is considered a 'temporary structure', so didn't need planning permission.

I know my only way forward is going to have to be continuing to plant along the boundary, although there's an issue with about one third of that boundary line, as planting would come too near to the swimming pond and threaten its structure and lining. So I can't actually plant trees here. I'm trying to find a clever way of legally incorporating some kind of custom made trellis on stilts along there or seeing if a root barrier will prevent tree roots penetrating as far as the pond, which is only about 3 or 4 feet from the fence line.

Where I live, loads of greenbelt is being torn up for development, even against the wishes of the villages parish councils, as the government plan is to build ever more affordable housing. So I don't think the wildlife will prevent a keen developer making millions, sadly.

Thank you for trying to help out. I'll keep planting and hope that in time, I achieve some kind of privacy again.

Pannacotta Mon 24-Sep-12 21:50:30

I posted before and cant give any advice about the legalities but it does sound as if you coudl at least make the garden more private and secluded with your planting.
If you plant tall shrubs closer to the house they neednt be as tall as if they were at the boundary in order to give you screening.

You can still have a wildlife garden whatever happens in the next plot, there are lots of ways to do this such as creating a wildlife pond, leaving some parts of the garden to go wild and using plants to attract bees/birds etc.

I would look into the change of use as LadyMud suggested before.

LadyMud Mon 24-Sep-12 21:30:22

Errrm . . . I already gave you some practical advice

tiggytape Sun 23-Sep-12 18:43:42

We've had some of the same issues with privacy but live in an urban setting so are more used to it I guess. As more and more houses spring up though it does get worse. We live in an area where garden-grabbing is big business so it gets more and more closed in over the years and you do feel a bit like being in a goldfish bowl sometimes.
I have concentrated a lot on screening (fast solutions like vines and slower but better solutions like hedging and shrubs).

I don't know a lot about planning but I had heard that developers hate newts and wildlife because any protected species has to be given extra consideration and sometimes developments cannot go ahead if rare wildlife will be affected. Maybe it is worth keeping a record and some photos of the wildlife you have just in case it is useful if there's ever a consultation about developing the area?

BlogOnTheTyne Sun 23-Sep-12 07:38:04

I'm resurrecting my old thread because since I last posted, things have got much worse and I'm hoping for a bit of support and some practical advice.

The people who rent the field adjoining our garden, have been there most of the daylight hours throughout the summer, having riding lessons, driving and parking their cars, erecting a small shed next to our fence etc. Even worse, they've recently erected a massive, massive stables building but I think it's called a temporary shelter as it was put up directly onto the grass, without foundations. This has blocked a lot of our rural view.

I find it impossible to wander out into my garden or to do any gardening at all because if just feels too embarassing to have several people a few feet or even inches away from our see-through fence, getting on with their own business. Every single time I look out of our house windows, I feel awkward, as the people are there in the field and it looks as if we're watching them, which we're not.

Another horse owner has also started using the field for their horse, which means there can now be about 6 people beside our garden, right there on and off all day from 6.30am till 9.30pm.

However, even worse, there is now a real threat that the rented field will soon be sold to property developers and the grassy lane beside our house and garden will become a public thoroughfare.

This is already used several times a day by the 'horse' people to drive their cars to the field or ride their bikes along there. When we bought the house, the lane was used only twice a year by a farmer who occasionally brought a flock of sheep for temporary grazing.

I am trying to be reasonable about the whole situation but really struggling to come to terms with the complete change in our own lifestyle, from having a home and garden in a semi-rural setting, backing on to rarely used grazing and agricultural land - to a 'riding-school' soon to become a housing estate.

I realise that greenbelt is now being released for residential housing. I realise how lucky we've been to have the setting we love for our home and garden. Many people will never have this.

However, I am still struggling with facing a future where my dream of continuing to develop our garden and spend increasing time out there, as the DCs get older, looks very different. I can't imagine wanting to spend time in the garden, surrounded by people, buildings overshadowing, vehicles going past and increased noise.

We've had brilliant wildlife in the garden in the past - grass snakes, lizards, newts etc in the pond, woodpeckers, heron, jays. All these will dwindle with the population of the land around us.

I don't know if this is really the right section to be posting this but as the bottom line for me is my passion for gardening feeling threatened and compromised, now and in the future, I thought I'd post here again and ask....

Has anyone else had to come to terms with change of land use beside their rural home/garden, from peaceful, wildlife-filled setting to built up, noisy, polluted and developed locality?

How do you come to terms with this? Have you still been able to enjoy your garden if it's gone from rural to urban setting? Have you been able to come to terms with the reduction in your property's value? Can you accept greenbelt being ripped apart to make way for needed housing - and, if so, how to you get to that point of acceptance?

LadyMud Sat 07-Jul-12 16:50:02

Have you checked to see whether planning permission was granted for:
a) erecting a tree house
b) change of use from agricultural to equestrian purposes, inc riding lessons, and car parking

I'm not entirely sure of the law here, but it's worth phoning the local planning department to enquire.

mrswee Thu 21-Jun-12 10:35:24

Do the horsey people have to park right behind your fence? is it possible you could engage wit them nicely and ask them to park in an other part of the field? perhaps it seems natural for them to park by the fence and of course they will have not thought about how it makes you feel when a car pulls up loudly right behind where you are sitting!

Bienchen Tue 19-Jun-12 21:45:48

No to yew as it is very slow growing and it would take a long time to get the level or privacy the OP requires. Mature yews would be very costly for that very reason.

funnyperson Mon 18-Jun-12 19:08:37

yew hedge?

ChristieF Mon 18-Jun-12 18:04:42

We have laurel hedges at front and back too. They can grow to around 15 feet or so and can be fast growers if you water and feed them. Trim the tips out regularly and they quickly bush out. Evergreen too and very attractive. Also cheap if you buy them small from a nursery.

ChristieF Mon 18-Jun-12 18:02:40

What about creating a pergola to sit under? Enough plants on it and they won't be able to see past. Have you read Geoff Hamilton's book, The Paradise Garden? All about creating privacy. Leylandii can be a nuisance, but fantastic if you keep chopping the tips out. Thuja plicata looks like leylandii but will only ever grow to about 15 feet. You could buy mature specimens. I've also seen sail things in garden centres which you angle however you want to cover you up. A wahing line with blankets across? Not attractive but it works.

Pannacotta Tue 05-Jun-12 08:31:06

If you can, do try to pretend the horse folk arent there when you are out in our garden.
You live there and have every rigfht to enjoy your house and garden and to do your gardening as you wish.

I do think that havign layers of planting, ie trees, climbers, hedging, shrubs and perennials along the boundaries will help make your garden feel more secluded, they shoudl also help dampen the noise.

Portuguese laurel is tough as old boots, looks good (evergreen) and is fast growing.

Selks Tue 05-Jun-12 07:28:37

Taking notes, for my overlooked garden.

BlogOnTheTyne Tue 05-Jun-12 06:44:28

The trees we've got are mature photinia and ligustrum from Majestic Trees (company that sells huge mature specimems) and are already at least 3m high and beyond. Because of the width of the gardens, however, this means that the neighbours can be far back enough and high up enough to see over from their trampoline and playhouse, despite this, unfortunately.

With the aspect from the field, the riders can be quite far back from our boundary line and high up on horseback and so can get a clear view not only into our garden but also into the back of our house. In their case, they're not at all deliberately looking in. It's just difficult to hang out in your own garden when they're there.

I think I'm going to have to play the 'long game' and over the next few years, hopefully the climbers on the back fence, plus hedging, will obscure the view from the field, at normal height, if not on horseback.

Meanwhile, I think I'll put up boarding on the inside of the arbour, to hide the gaps between the slats and give us a bit more privacy from the car park area now behind it.

I'm actually finding it hard to continue planting along the back fence or do these works, as the horse people are so often there and I find it really uncomfortable to be inches away from them, planting climbers and shrubs or hammering in nails etc, when they're going about their own business in the field.

I've tried to buy the field from the owners several times but they're not interested in selling. I should have considered renting it, like the horse people have done and then retaining the view by paying a small rent per year....too late now.

Pannacotta Sat 02-Jun-12 18:48:45

Our garden is very overlooked but we have planted trees and put up tall trellis (to 3m) which we applied for planning permission to do.

The best climber I put in for both speed and privacy is clematis Armandii, it looks lovely draping itself over several metres of trellis and the flowers smell amazing in the spring.
Solanum too is great, the blue one is quite shrubby and gets big, could you fit this in near the trampoline? I planted a small one last year and its over 2m tall already and smothered in flowers.

COuld you replace your trees with larger specimens, ie from Barchams? Birch grow very fast if not and are good for screening in the summer months.

BlogOnTheTyne Fri 01-Jun-12 13:44:42

Thanks. Might add that to the mix of climbers and shrubs now growing there. Meanwhile, still trying to adjust to the 'invasion'.

As I type, there are 4 girls in the field, having amateur riding lesson with one of the regulars, the mum and the car parked inches from our fence. It's like backing onto a park now, which might be acceptable, if that's what I'd bought from the start but to have things go from total seclusion and privacy to this, is really hard!

survivingspring Thu 31-May-12 10:32:30

Ooh yes I planted that one wormshuffler - Solanum Crispum I think it's called and it is rampant! Has got to about 10 feet in less than a year. Clematis Armandii is a beast too and is evergreen.

Wormshuffler Thu 31-May-12 10:19:40

Its a blue potato vine.

Wormshuffler Thu 31-May-12 10:16:53

I have put a picture on my profile of a really fast climbing plant we have put around our table area to give us privacy, as the trees that used to be at the bottom of out garden have now gone . Unhelpfully I can't remember what it is called but it was really tiny 2 years ago when I got it off a market and it was in with all the clematis. You know how they have them in long bags with a picture on the front. It was in an any 3 for a fiver package.
I shall ask my step mum, she will know it's name back later............

survivingspring Thu 31-May-12 09:53:40

I feel your pain Blog as same thing happened to us when we bought our house. A leylandiii hedge (not the most beautiful of things but functional) was removed by our neighbours and we lost all our garden privacy and they can also directly into our back windows. It is a horrible adjustment when you are used to seclusion and not needing to have net curtains sad

It is surprising how quickly climbers and many shrubs do grow. I would keep the slatted fence as within a year or two you could have the privacy you need but without feeling closed in by a solid structure.

BlogOnTheTyne Thu 31-May-12 09:06:30

Thanks again. I wonder if we should just take down the lovely, slatted fence that we recently put up, tearing off the climbers already growing there - and re-erect a closed board fence - losing our country view but gaining a bit more privacy from the horse people? Alternatively, within 3 to 5 yrs, climbers and shrubs should have grown along the slatted fence, partially obscuring the view but allowing more light and a little more privacy. Can we wait that long to regain anything like a sense of privacy in our garden, though?

I'm really torn on this one. Where we used to have afternoon tea in the corner arbour, where the sun shines till almost 9pm, we now have 1 or 2 cars parked inches away behind the slatted fence and arbour and several people coming and going with riding /horse equipment and walking, riding past again and again, chatting etc. All we used to hear was bird song.

It's not that these people are at all unpleasant. It's just that even if they were our best friends, it still means we've lost any sense of having a private secluded garden that was a main reason for buying the house and a lovely outlook of only fields. The uncertainty of knowing when the horse people will turn up is really stressful as it's several times a day between 6.30am every morning when they first arrive, to 9pm at night - on and off all day.

We can just be settling down, after work, with a cuppa and suddenly, the car pulls up beside us and they get out and we feel uncomfortable that they're right behind us, not initially aware we're there and then it just feels so awkward and intrusive.

I used to spend happy hours in the garden over the summer and w/es and now am checking first whether or not the horse people are there, before going out and more often than not, staying indoors when I see them. They can even see into every main room in the house, as all the rooms back onto the garden side and even with an obscuring fence, they'd easily see over, whilst on horseback.

Perhaps I should have posted this in the AIBU forum where someone there is facing a different situation but equal or worse impact on loss of privacy in their garden and home.

Is it 'normal' to feel so incensed and stressed by losing privacy in this way or am I just turning into an old fuddy-duddy?! Gardening is/was my main hobby and now I'm feeling really inhibited to go out there at all!

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Sun 27-May-12 09:08:53

This is too small to read on my phone but I think that relevant law on fences and boundaries is summarised here.

I think you are right and will have to cultivate a different mindset. Annoying as it is, you'll have to keep reminding yourself that the neighbours' children don't spend all say in the tree house or on the trampoline (or do they?!)

Rainydayagain Sun 27-May-12 08:47:31

I had a grren mesh type thing that my husband nailed to an frame structure ( wind break garden membrane) did a good job until my hedging grew.

Not that pretty, effective though.

BlogOnTheTyne Sat 26-May-12 19:30:31

Many thanks for all the ideas. Re. trellis, I thought that the garden boundary had a maximum height regardless of whether or not this was made up of fence or trellis - ie 2 metres? Wouldn't extra trellis on top of that count as the boundary line and therefore be deemed too high?

We can't plant more trees as there isn't enough room between the fence and a large garden pond but I can keep trying to grow more climbers and have also bought some small hedging plants today to put in. It'll be 2 to 3 yrs before they've grown much and in the meantime, the neighbours and the people on horseback have a view that's far above the fence line and the trees that are already there in one section.

We got a large 'trellis on legs' structure put up within the garden last year and I'm trying to grow climbers up this too but even then, the neighbours can easily see over the 8 foot structure from their playhouse and when bouncing on the trampoline.

At the bottom end of the garden, where there's an agricultural field, now used by horse riders for riding and grazing/keeping their horses, we have a new slatted fence that lets in the light and the lovely view....but of course now we're regretting not having a solid fence put in, as even today, the horse people have been inches from our fence, hammering in more posts for the horse boundaries and up on horseback all afternoon - the whole family!

I'm trying to cultivate a different mind set and think positive thoughts about them - well the horse people, as it'd be impossible to have any good thoughts about the horrible neighbours! However, our garden 'view' which faces most of the day's sun and used to be a field - occasionally with sheep grazing - and views beyond, is now criss-crossed with white ribbon that sections off the field for the horses, jumps, buckets and the family of horse people. We haven't really wanted to sit and sunbathe all day, as it looks as if we'd be staring at the horse people.

I might try to rig up a temporary canvas sheet thing or something to get us through the summer and until the climbers and hedging plants grow.

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