Liv­ing screens, sunken ter­races and leafy canopies are just some of the de­sign fea­tures that will help trans­form an over­looked or ex­posed space into a pri­vate re­treat

Homes & Gardens - - CONTENTS - Words ZIA ALLAWAY

Ten imag­i­na­tive ways to fos­ter an air of glo­ri­ous seclu­sion in your out­door space.


In a small ur­ban gar­den, an opaque, frosted or coloured glass canopy over the seat­ing area is ideal for cre­at­ing pri­vacy. Ob­scur­ing the view into the space from above, a glass roof has the bonus of al­low­ing light through – a real ad­van­tage in an area shaded by ad­ja­cent build­ings. For a be­spoke de­sign to suit your needs, con­tact a land­scape de­sign and con­struc­tion com­pany that is a mem­ber of BALI,, or APL, land­, or a firm that spe­cialises in gar­den build­ings.


Po­si­tion a sum­mer­house or pav­il­ion so that it backs onto the gar­den bound­ary where it is most over­looked; the build­ing’s roof and walls will cre­ate a vis­ual bar­rier and a pri­vate space in front. Con­ceal­ing the struc­ture be­hind trees or large shrubs can in­crease the sense of seclu­sion if it is reached by a jour­ney through the gar­den via a wind­ing path. Where there is no space for a build­ing, an ar­bour seat set next to a bound­ary will have a sim­i­lar ef­fect.


The height of a two metre bound­ary hedge or wall can be ex­tended us­ing trees clipped into balls or pleached to form a hedge on bare stems. Al­ter­na­tively, at­tach­ing trel­lis along the top will let in light and pro­vide sup­port for climbers, such as roses and clema­tis. Pleached and clipped hedg­ing can be bought pre-trained and grown to the height you re­quire from spe­cial­ists such as Hedges Di­rect, hedges­di­


Sunken gar­dens make great re­treats and are es­pe­cially use­ful in ur­ban plots where bound­ary fences may cast un­wanted shade. Low­er­ing a ter­race by just 45cm makes it eas­ier to cre­ate a greater sense of pri­vacy with plant­ing or awnings; if you want to go lower, ask a land­scape ar­chi­tect to check the wa­ter table level and ad­vise on drainage. In a slop­ing gar­den, carve out ter­races and cre­ate an out­door room on the low­est level.


Screen­ing noise in a gar­den is cru­cial for a tran­quil am­bi­ence. Wa­ter spouts and foun­tains help to drown out the sound of traf­fic and noisy neigh­bours, and en­sure your con­ver­sa­tions are not eas­ily overheard. The most ef­fec­tive wa­ter fea­tures pro­duce just the right level of sound – sooth­ing rather than ir­ri­tat­ing – and form an in­te­gral part of the gar­den de­sign. Wa­ter gar­den spe­cial­ist Fair­wa­ter Lim­ited, fair­wa­, of­fers a be­spoke de­sign and in­stal­la­tion ser­vice.


Par­ti­tions made from ren­dered brick, trel­lis or even Cor-ten steel can be used to break up a small or large gar­den, cre­at­ing se­cluded sec­tions in which to con­ceal din­ing ar­eas, benches or loungers. In ex­posed sites, per­fo­rated screens will also act as wind­breaks, mak­ing shel­tered nooks, ideal for re­lax­ing. Po­si­tion­ing two or three screens on ei­ther side of a small gar­den, ei­ther at 90 de­grees to the bound­ary or an­gled away from the house, can make it look larger, too.


Lin­ing paths and pa­tios with peren­ni­als, grasses and bam­boos is a good way to hide seat­ing ar­eas from view. Plants that die down in win­ter of­fer pri­vacy dur­ing sum­mer when you are re­lax­ing out­side, but will not block out light dur­ing the rest of the year. By plac­ing seats strate­gi­cally, you may find that flow­ers and fo­liage do not need to be very tall to make an ef­fec­tive screen.


Trees trained to form a canopy will mask the view of a ter­race from neigh­bour­ing win­dows, while also adding an ar­chi­tec­tural fea­ture to your gar­den de­sign. Ideal trees for liv­ing roofs in­clude Tilia hen­ryana (lime), Acer campestre (field maple) and fruit trees such as mul­berry. Many are avail­able ready-trained from spe­cial­ist nurs­eries such as Hedge­worx, hedge­; prune an­nu­ally in late sum­mer or au­tumn.


A sail shade sus­pended over a seat­ing area will not only block di­rect views from up­per storey win­dows, but will also give pro­tec­tion from sun­light and show­ers. The frame can be adorned with climbers, to en­hance the en­closed feel. Check that they will grow tall enough to cover the struc­ture and fix wires to the up­rights for the stems to cling to.


Trees of­fer un­lim­ited scope for pro­vid­ing pri­vacy. A small copse planted at the end of a gar­den will form a quiet refuge. In a large, open space, use or­na­men­tal trees to screen off a shel­tered area with a dra­matic view and edge it with hedges or low walls. In smaller gar­dens, three or four trees with slim trunks, such as Hi­malayan birches, will cre­ate a snug wooded re­treat.

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