Does your back window give you a great view of the neighbor’s air conditioner? Are you sick of staring at (and smelling) the garbage containers next door every time you go out to enjoy your back deck? Or would you just rather than not have to deal with that neighbor who’s always poking around when you just want to enjoy the peace and quiet of your backyard? Depending on your budget or the size of your backyard (especially in older neighborhoods), a fence may not be practical. There are plenty of other options to fit all budgets and tastes.

#1 Cover the deck with a pergola

Decks and patios are a lot of easier to cover than the entire backyard. A pergola with latticed panels helps you create shade and privacy on your deck. Because pergolas also cover overhead space, training woody vines through will not just give you privacy, it can also help shade your back deck without cutting off the sunshine completely. Arrange your backyard furniture in the shade and you’ve got the perfect place to eat outdoors.

#2 Hedges and Layered Trees

A property-line hedge is a great way to create privacy in your front yard without an unsightly fence and you can use one anywhere. Where your square footage is tight, a hedge effectively blocks sightlines. Italian cypress and arborvitae are two fast-growing plants that will quickly grow to create a perimeter of your privacy around your home.

When you have the luxury of more space, you can layer trees and plants, combing flowering plants and shrubs. Stagger evergreens – while they will give you privacy all year round, they will also block the sunlight all year round. Use deciduous trees in the foreground to keep the sun shining on your home later in the year.

#3 Use a Trellis

For smaller spaces like gardens and urban backyards, set up a trellis or series of them to create an intimate space with a wrought-iron table and chairs, a garden fountain, or just somewhere you can plant in peace. Even with vine plants, a trellis may not create complete privacy, but it sets up psychological buffers and helps define the space you’re in. Enjoy spring and summer afternoons in the sun by carving out a peaceful corner of your backyard with trellises.

#4 Potted Plants

Raising potted plants or long planters on casters or creating layered seating on your back deck can also give you a greater sense of privacy. Plant bamboo, dwarf evergreens, and arborvitae to add privacy. You can add seasonal touches with shrubs that turn red and golden yellow in the fall or shrubs like winterberry holly that will add color to the winter seasons.

Your privacy doesn’t have to be expensive or bland. Think beyond the fence and you can create an intimate, secluded backyard experience you can enjoy all summer long. From hedges to trellises, creative planters to pergolas, these backyard design tips are guaranteed to keep your neighbors’ noses out of your business.