From Über-Ambitious to Super-Simple: Privacy Fences & Screens You Can Make Yourself


Got some outdoor space — a teeny balcony, deluxe patio, humble patch of grass, or minimalist concrete pad? Congratulations! Now that you’re part of the landed gentry, you’ll want some privacy. Block prying eyes, wind, and sun with these DIYs, ranging from projects requiring power tools I’ve never heard of to tutorials that amount to basically, “zip a zip tie” and “dig a hole.” Regardless of complexity, each project is apartment-friendly and will enclose your space gorgeously!

If you have $150 and lots of tools, this stylish wall can be yours, no matter what your outdoor space is like. As the creators put it, “This can be adapted whether you have a stone patio surrounded by dirt and grass, a balcony or a free standing deck like we have.” You could potentially train vining plants up this wall for extra beauty and privacy!

This dreamy surrounding will make you feel like you’re on a tropical vacation any old day! The structure is not sunk into the ground, meaning it’s portable, impermanent, and can be placed on a patio, porch, or rooftop. The instructions are for a screen with generous proportions, but you could obviously scale them down to suit a smaller outdoor space.

This project is actually Privacy Screen For An Outdoor Hot Tub, but don’t let your lack of a hot tub discourage you from tackling this DIY! The genius of this screen is that it’s completely portable and adjustable. It might be a lot of work to make, but it will continue working for you even if you move or rearrange your outdoor space. And you’ll be able to expand/contract it easily, depending on how much privacy and/or sun you want at any particular moment.

Upgrade standard home supply store wood trellis—it’s only $13.97 for a 4’x8′ panel at Home Depot—with a gorgeous coat of paint. It will let in plenty of light while still providing privacy, especially if you add some lovely vines.

If you can twist wire or operate zip ties, you can increase the height, opacity, and beauty of your existing chain link fence, balcony surround, or porch railing. Not only is this option super simple, it’s incredibly affordable. A 6’x16′ roll of bamboo reed fencing is $26.49 at Home Depot, and there’s a good chance you have some wire or zip ties laying around. You could also use bamboo poles (also available at big box home stores) to recreate the look of Joyce’s Outdoor Oasis, pictured up top!

Here’s another Zip Ties Only option, this time using free pallets. Free! Attach pallets to your existing fence or railing with zip ties, and you can extend the height of your fence/railing by stacking the pallets two high. While naked pallets certainly have their charms, a quick coat of paint goes a long way — you can even use up leftover bits of paint for an intriguing color scheme that will complement your interior decor.

If you’re more of a sewer than a builder, this is the project for you. Make custom curtains out of waterproof/resistant fabric and clip to your balcony’s existing railing, the underside of your upstairs neighbor’s balcony, or a curtain rod you install yourself, as seen in Trent’s Relaxing, Beach-like Retreat House Tour. If you’re really lucky, you’ll find curtains the right size and all you’ll have to do is hang them!

This final option requires zero tools and zero building: all you have to do is grow plants! Bamboo can grow 3 feet in one day, so you could have a dense, lush fence before you know it. To get the most blocking power out of your baby bamboo, plant it in long, narrow rows—or in planters, for a portable option.

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