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5 Patio Gardens

Picturesque Privacy Garden

One big complaint about patios, decks and other outdoor spaces is the lack of privacy. If you have a tall fence or hedge, your activities might be shielded from view. If not, an evening outdoors on the patio may feel like being center stage for the amusement of your fascinated neighbors. If your outdoor activities get a little more attention than you'd like, try adding a privacy garden to your patio design.

One popular method is to install a trellis and plant vines that will fill in to create a living curtain. You can invest in a freestanding trellis that looks like a room divider, build one to suit, or purchase a series of trellis inserts for your flower boxes or pots.

Plants aren't picky about what they grow on as long as the structure is sound. These popular vines are available through most garden centers:

  • balloon vine (Cardiospermum halicacabum)
  • grape ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)
  • bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra)
  • clematis
  • climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. Petiolaris)
  • climbing Rose
  • cup-and-Saucer Vine (Cobaea scandens)
  • English ivy (Hedera helix)
  • star jasmine (Trachelospermum Jasminoides)
  • morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea)
  • silver lace (Polygomun Aubertii)
  • sweet peas
  • trumpet vine (Campsis radicans)
  • Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
  • wisteria (Wisteria sinensis, Wisteria floribunda)

Just be sure to choose a vine that will thrive in the light and moisture conditions on your patio.

You can also plant tall shrubs along your patio border or in strategically placed flower boxes or pots. We like low maintenance varieties like the viburnums, spireas and lilacs, but bamboo also makes a beautiful screening plant if you keep it contained. Some other options are:

  • aarborvitae
  • boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)
  • cleyera (Cleyera japonica)
  • dwarf burning bush (Euonymus alatus 'Compacta')
  • juniper
  • rose-of-sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)

Another screening choice that can be fun on a patio is a dwarf tree or even a common tree variety that you've given a bonsai treatment with a root bob. Dwarf Japanese maple is a popular scaled-down choice, but there are many more tiny trees to choose from. Dwarf tree varieties look perfectly proportioned for small outdoor rooms. You can even give a dwarf fruit tree like a lemon or lime cultivar a try. These petite citrus trees will produce a seasonal yield. If you like the idea of a mojito or margarita al fresco, a dwarf citrus tree may be a perfect choice to provide the fresh ingredients, shade and seclusion you're after.