NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Front Page - By Sheree Ras­mussen, AOCA

One of the chal­lenges fac­ing ur­ban dwellers to­day is cre­at­ing a sense of pri­vacy and en­clo­sure in out­door spa­ces with­out feel­ing hemmed in and with­out of­fend­ing neigh­bours. The days of com­plete open­ness, with just a waist-high chain-link fence be­tween prop­er­ties, are gone, for bet­ter or worse. Here are some so­lu­tions to feel­ing se­cluded, not cut off. FENCE FIRST The first thing to con­sider is fenc­ing. Cedar is more nat­u­ral than pres­sure­treated wood and ages beau­ti­fully. Wil­low fenc­ing is be­com­ing popular and has a much more “or­ganic” look. Hor­i­zon­tal boards, rather than ver­ti­cal, in­crease the sense of space in the gar­den. Vary the heights ac­cord­ing to the views and the over­all de­sign. A curved trel­lis can cre­ate a fo­cal point, dis­tract­ing from un­wanted views be­yond and break­ing up a fence’s straight lines. In­stead of fenc­ing all the way around, con­sider ar­eas of “green fence” made up of cedars or other evergreens grouped in clumps, not nec­es­sar­ily in a straight line. FIND­ING THE PER­fECT SIT­TING SPOT Find the best place to sit in the gar­den. Tra­di­tion­ally, the pa­tio or sit­ting area is right up near the house. This may be the most prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion (not hav­ing to walk too far from the kitchen with your mar­tini), but are there other op­tions? Con­sider pulling the sit­ting area far enough from the house to cre­ate some plant­ing beds be­tween. What about a sit­ting area else­where in the gar­den? There’s usu­ally a great lit­tle area you hadn’t thought of where you can put a ta­ble or bench and make it re­ally pri­vate.

UN­SIGHTLY VIEW Use trel­lises to block un­sightly views. If you’re tired of look­ing at the neigh­bour’s laun­dry on the line or star­ing right into their kitchen win­dow, a dec­o­ra­tive trel­lis, solidly built and well placed, can be very use­ful. If you’re build­ing it in­side your prop­erty line the 2-me­tre-high rule doesn’t ap­ply, though it’s usu­ally best to con­sult with your neigh­bours first. THINK GREEN Plant as much green­ery as pos­si­ble. If you have a grass yard now, you might want to keep some of it, but re­think how much flat sur­face you re­ally need. If you have kids and dogs, you ob­vi­ously need room to kick the ball around, but oth­er­wise you could re­place much of it with low-main­te­nance ground cov­ers, shrubs and trees. This al­lows you to put your pri­vacy-cre­at­ing el­e­ments else­where than sim­ply around the perime­ter of the gar­den. For pri­vacy around your sit­ting area, some mid­size shrubs can do the trick. And if you want to look out your win­dow in win­ter and see green in­stead of build­ings, plant some mid to large-size evergreens.

ACOUS­TIC PRI­VACY For acous­tic pri­vacy, densely planted evergreens such as cedars, hem­locks and ju­nipers are very ef­fec­tive, as is a wa­ter fea­ture or pond. Whether it’s a full-scale pond and wa­ter­fall or just a small bowl or wall-mounted fea­ture, the sooth­ing nat­u­ral rhythms of mov­ing wa­ter can mask and dis­tract from all kinds of nerve-jan­gling noise.


All th­ese so­lu­tions can en­hance their gar­den as much as your own. Be sen­si­tive to their need for sun and to the view from their side and you’ll be able to live side by side in har­mony.



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