Keep the prying eye out with privacy screens

Wednesday June 24 2020

Climbing plants work very well as privacy

Climbing plants work very well as privacy screens. PHOTO/ISMAIL KEZAALA 

By Joan Salmon

The idea of building towering wall fences seemed such a great idea for privacy’s sake until people realised its downside such as blocking air flow. There is nothing that beats a cool breeze and anything that stands in the way ought to be gotten rid of. So does that mean that we leave our homes to the prying eyes of neighbours and strangers? Of course not, a privacy screen is your answer.
Apart from giving you that much needed privacy, Aloysius Nangosha, a designer with McFaj, says they are also used to improve the general outlook of your exterior space hence being a decorative feature, not to mention defining space parameters by breaking up a wide area.
Usually these are four to six feet tall and unlike a concrete or brick and mortar fence, are somewhat portable. With several privacy screen ideas, we bring you those that are easy to make, hence pocket friendly.

Big plants
While some people may be seen buying ornamental plants, for their home, when creating a screen, you will want to invest in rather large or big plants to accomplish the mission. “Ensure that they can grow a little lush to fit the purpose. Some of these could be grasses as these not only have flowers but also spread out to give the much needed cover,” Nangosha says.
Some of these are bamboo grasses.

If your compound is large, plants may not be ideal. You are better off planting trees. “However, if you use seedlings, you must have enough patience as it may take time for them to grow to the desired height and size. You must also be cautious about the type of trees you pick as some have rather large roots that spread out, a distance from the tree hence damaging your house,” Ivan Nkatta, a landscaper says. That said, with the right pick, they will give you a natural barrier yet allow air to freely circulate your home. That is not forgetting the shade that will make reading a book outdoors more enticing. Trees growing in cone-like shape are ideal and these include Ashoko, alukeria, algenia.
In case you need a screen immediately, Nkatta says you can also buy mature ones. However, these will be more costly than seedlings.

Living wall
Just in case you thought that these only work indoors, you may need to rethink as the outdoors gave the preamble to the indoors. Therefore, as you search to keep the prying eye away, Nangosha says building one would be a great idea.
“Create a wooden frame on which your plants will hang and place it the place of your choice. However, you may also stick this frame just above large planters so that the plant will climb on. Whichever you go with, ensure that there are climbing plants amongst what you choose so that they will cover any spaces the other plants leave,” he says.
To make the sight even more colourful, consider adding flowers into your plant selection.
Seeing that these can grow high, using bamboo for a privacy screen is such a great idea. With several varieties available, ensure you get one that will not only grow high but also create a thicket good enough to shut the world out. “You may plant these in planters or directly in the ground.”
He, however, reminds us that bamboo has rhizome roots, therefore you need to control how it grows in the soil least it grows randomly. “That will definitely fail the purpose for which they were planted. Controlling is by digging and cutting off any new shoot or building three bricks down into the ground around the plant,” he explains.

A trellis is a metallic or wooden frame used to support creeping plants. This can also work well when creating a privacy screen.” However, you need to direct the plants so that they do not got off the trellis. That way, the plants will create a suitable cover,” Nkatta explains. Plants here include alamanda, candle plant, fambacia

These are the oldest privacy screens many of us have seen. Synonymous to picket fences, these plants work well to add greenery to your compound while affording you the much needed privacy. Some of these are the white morning glory, zink plant, Christmas tree. Nkatta says you may also try the bougainvillea tree. However, you need to keep trimming it to avoid it from growing bigger roots. “The more branches a plant has, the bigger its roots get, prune to avoid its roots from damaging your house.”

Herringbone wooden screen
We have seen back splash tiles and timber flooring organised in a herringbone pattern. ”We can borrow the same idea and make our privacy screen. This is something you can even do on your own,” Nangosha says. Just ensure you get wood with character to add that to your exterior.


While planting in the ground may be alluring, Ivan Nkatta, a landscaper, says using containers is better. “These help to control errant plants such as bamboo.” Also, using containers helps you change the plant position with much ease. “That will also help to give your compound a facelift rather than being tied to one design,” Nkatta says.

Rather than plain green plants, use colourful grasses and flowers to add beauty. “That way, it will become a focal point in your exterior. With a wooden screen, you may add shelf-like holders to hold planters with flowers,” Nangosha. shares.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga says the recommended residential fence is one that allows for neighbours to be able to see what is going on within the fence.

“That way, if there is criminality within, they can be able to see and help,” he shares.
He adds that in developed countries, high wall fence are not the norm. “As such, the neighbours can look out for each other, with regards to vigilance. Where visibility is high, criminality is usually low.” He says that high wall fences do not allow for one to help in case of robbery or kidnap. “However, if the fence is high but has provision for one to see through, say bars, then it’s okay.”

However, if criminality in the area is high, Enanga says these fences may not work as break-ins will be the norm. “Ultimately, the neighbourhood matters. That is why before one chooses where to build a home, studying the criminality levels is important.”