Outdoor garden screens can serve a variety of purposes, including maintaining privacy, creating an outdoor “room” or hiding unsightly air conditioning units or trash cans. The different types of garden screens can be made of metal, such as iron or bronze; made of synthetic materials such as fabric or vinyl; made of natural wood, such as bamboo or willow; or even made of vining plants or trees. The type of garden screen used often depends on the climate and weather of the location as well as the desired purpose of the screened area.
Metal garden screens are often folding panels of two, three or four panels that can be custom-forged to create specific, decorative designs that will withstand the elements for a long time. They also can be single-paneled trellises or arbors. Finished metal garden screens made of bronze can give a more polished look to the garden space. Screens made with steel are often powder-coated to prevent rust, making them very weather-resistant. Iron screens can be left unfinished for a rustic look or painted to suit.
Synthetic garden screens tend to be less expensive than metal and are more lightweight and easier to move into different positions. They also come in folding panels or latticed panels and are made of canvas fabric or vinyl. Garden screens made of synthetic materials offer the widest range of color and stylistic possibilities. These screens do not last as long as metal screens in areas that receive a lot of exposure to wind, rain and ice.
Wooden garden screens can be made from a variety of woods to match fences or house trim, such as pine, willow, bamboo or teak. Left untreated, these screens will weather naturally and blend in with the landscape, or they can be finished with a colored stain or paint. Although they are not as sturdy as metal garden screens, wood screens might last longer than synthetic screens, especially if they are treated to prevent rot and resist rain damage. One consideration for wooden screens is that they might attract wood-boring insects.
The most natural-looking and permanent type of outdoor garden screen can be created by planting trees, tall shrubs or vining plants. This type of screen is resistant to harsh weather because it can consist of plants that grow well in a specific climate, and it works very well as a wind break. Strong vines such as ivy, grape or wisteria can be grown up a metal, synthetic or wooden trellis to create privacy for a patio area and reinforce the strength of the trellis. Thick-branched trees or shrubs can be planted along a property line to create landscape definition and a barrier from busy roads or neighboring yards. Smaller trees can be planted in pots and placed on platforms with wheels to create temporary outdoor “rooms,” and they can be moved when needed.