What is a Privacy Wall?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A privacy wall is a barrier which is designed to create a shield which provides privacy for a residence or business. People who live in residential neighborhoods may install privacy walls so that they feel more comfortable, and people in more rural areas can also sometimes benefit from such screens. Businesses, such as medical clinics and legal offices, use privacy walls to maintain confidentiality. The intent of a privacy wall is privacy, not necessarily confinement or security, so there is a great deal of flexibility in design.

Traditional wood fences can be used as privacy walls.
Traditional wood fences can be used as privacy walls.

People with close neighbors often use privacy walls both to shelter their own activities and to screen the neighbors from view. Frictions sometimes arise as people may feel obligated to be chatty when they are both in their yards, or when neighbors inadvertently provide a better view of their private life than they realize. A privacy wall can shelter people from seeing their neighbors' activities, and it can also act as a sound baffle. For businesses, law or ethics may require privacy for customers, in which case such walls help businesses comply with privacy standards.

Traditional fences from wood, metal, stone, or concrete can all be used as privacy walls. One advantage to fencing is that it secures animals and keeps children safe, and it can also keep people out of the yard, increasing security. If people do not want to look at a fence, they can establish landscaping around it to soften the view. Fencing may also be used by businesses which need privacy walls, as they may be concerned about security in addition to privacy.

Another option is a privacy hedge, a living fence in the form of plant life. Shrubs, trees, and vines can be planted to make a privacy wall. Since it may take several years for the plants to become fully established, temporary fencing or latticing may be used for privacy until the plants are big enough. People can also mix fencing and plantings to create a privacy wall which will be visually interesting. Over time, a thick living wall can become as impassable as a more traditional wall, satisfying security needs as well as addressing privacy concerns.

While people are not required to consult their neighbors about the landscaping they use or the fencing they install, it can be advisable. Neighbors may be resentful about a privacy wall installed without any consultation, and this could lead to future interpersonal problems. By asking a neighbor, people can reach a mutually satisfactory decision about a privacy wall and the neighbor may even be inclined to assist with the costs of installation and maintenance.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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