Photo: MicroPro Sienna

Despite sweltering temperatures and sticky, humid conditions, fashion retailers and local school districts have declared summer over. But don’t be fooled, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors. If you live in an urban setting, surrounded by towering condos or high-rise office buildings, chances are your outdoor space is prone to prying eyes. So how can you enhance the privacy of your small city backyard or patio? Designer carpenter and TV handyman expert Chris Palmer shares five tips on creating privacy in urban outdoor spaces.

1. Choose fast-growing greenery

Photo: Bob Jenkins/Flickr

“Adding some low-maintenance greenery can optimize privacy, while adding visual appeal,” says Palmer. He recommends planting tall native grasses in raised planters or growing a hedge fence with poplar or cedar trees. “You should always speak to the garden experts at nurseries, they’ll be able to make recommendations based on the local climate and the amount of sun exposure your outdoor space receives.”

2. Upgrade your pergola

Photo: MicroPro Sienna

“Pergolas create the sense of an outdoor room by framing the space, and making it more inviting since it gives you a little more privacy.” Even a pergola purchased from big-box store can be fully customized with the addition of a shade sail, billowy curtains, lattice panels or playful string lights. “A pergola is a great outdoor investment that also increases the value of your property much like a deck would.”

3. DIY a modern privacy screen

Photo: MicroPro Sienna

“Horizontal or woven privacy screens are also a great aesthetic addition that can help create that separation in your backyard from neighbors,” says Palmer. Privacy screens are an affordable and relatively easy DIY project, and there are a myriad of styles to choose from. “I’m kind of known for my woven pattern, I like to vary the thickness of the boards to add texture and volume,” explains Palmer.

4. Ensure longevity with MicroPro Sienna

Photo: MicroPro Sienna

Choosing pressure-treated lumber from MicroPro Sienna will keeping your project looking new and ward off rot and harmful insects. “I always recommend applying a sealer to keep that natural brown tone, but even if you don’t, I find MicroPro Sienna retains its color longer than cedar ever would,” notes Palmer. “Cedar actually ages to a washed-out grey tone within months of sun exposure.”

5. Add character with upcycled treasures

Photo: beth h/Flickr

“I’m a big fan of transforming unwanted old furniture or doors into unique outdoor accents,” admits Palmer. Scour your local salvage shop for distressed shutters, doors, window panes or room dividers. Even glass bottles can be fashioned into a colorful privacy fence for your yard.

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