4 front yard privacy ideas that will improve your curb appeal and won't make you feel fenced in

A good front yard is not only welcoming but also keeps the important parts of your home hidden from view. Here's how landscape designers do it

a classic shiplap house with a tree and planting outside
(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: The 1818 Collective)

The idea of including planting and landscape architecture that provides your front yard with privacy is good... in theory. However, bad choices when it comes to this area of your home's landscaping can make you feel a little fenced in.

On the other hand, not including any at all means that you're bound to make eye contact with strangers on the street every time you have your curtains open. It's a tricky line to straddle. 

However, when it comes to front yard landscaping ideas that give you the best of both worlds, designers have tricks of the trade that create curb appeal that says 'welcome home', while also offering a softer approach to screening. And in some instances, even create a front yard that you'd want to spend time in. 

1. Create screening with layers of planting over hedges 

a front yard with small trees and shrubs

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes. Design: Richardson & Associates Landscape Architecture)

The best hedges for privacy are dense, created a solid, fence-like screen for your yard. However, that's not always what you want for a front yard. It can look imposing, while also meaning your views from the house are just of, well, hedge. Instead, consider your front yard planting in three dimensions, for all the benefits, and less of the drawbacks.  

'Using multiple plants at varying heights can provide a provide the same thing as a solid hedge or a fence but is far more welcoming,' says Joseph Richardson, landscape architect and founder of Richardson & Associates Landscape Architecture. 

2. Be clever with tree placement 

a front yard with a tree in front of a window

(Image credit: Rafael Soldi. Design: Best Practice Architecture)

'Strategically placed feature trees add more visual interest and a sense of privacy,' suggests Toronto-based landscape designer Jennifer Hayman. However, the best trees for privacy in a front yard aren't necessarily the same as for the backyard, as you may want to consider less dense foliage that obscures, rather than fully screening, for a softer approach. 

Consider the angles of your front yard when positioning a tree. A single tree can screen the spaces you're most concerned with privacy easily, and is also generally easier to maintain than a whole hedge. 

You'll also want to consider your curb appeal, too. Trees with seasonal color, whether that's bright fall leaves or springtime blossoms, can be a great choice for your front yard. 

3. Choose a softer approach to fencing 

a property with fences and trees around it

(Image credit: Mikiko Kikuyama. Design: Spiegel Ahara Workshop)

While privacy fences tend to be solid and tall, this can make your home feel more like a compound than a welcoming abode in the neighborhood when you apply these to your front yard, and that's even if local ordinances allow for them.  

Fences that provide less screening may feel counteractive to your home's privacy, but they're ideal to provide not only a boundary to your home, but a visual break in the eyeline from the street to your home's more private spaces. You'll be surprised how much privacy they provide just by being there. 

If you're looking for a design that hides a little more of your home away, consider combining a more lightweight fence with planting to create a more private space. 

4. Or use low-slung walls 

a small privacy fence in a front yard

(Image credit: Jennifer Hayman Design Group)

If you do want to use solid privacy screens in a front yard, keeping them low can help them feel less imposing in the landscaping of your space. 

They can also help to hide areas of your front yard you might not want on display, including, in this example, a front yard seating area. 'Low feature wall can add a true barrier for small outdoor seating area,' says Jennifer, who designed this front yard space. 'These clients like their neighbors and like the sunshine in their front yards and wanted to capitalize on this opportunity.'

Hugh Metcalf
Editor of Livingetc.com

Hugh is the  Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2024.