nicole_rdsp

Help! Neighbor building with a perfect view of our backyard

Nicole R Dsp
13 days ago

We built our house last year and are going to start tackling landscaping this summer. Sadly my neighbor started to build and has a PERFECT view of our entire backyard. We live on an acre.

My soon to be neighbor is a cool guy and he is happy to work with us and is going to plant some mature trees on his side of the fence to help with privacy. He offered to get together and talk about trees and placement so we can work together to separate our spaces. I am going to suggest he builds a berm so they sit higher. His lot is higher elevation than ours.

On my side:

For our current patio we are going to build a raised irrigated garden bed, plant some tall thick grasses and install a roller privacy shade. This is going to be a “lounge” area, and will create wonderful privacy. We have a glaring view of the house from our indoor dining table and slider, it’s hard to swallow.

We are installing steps soon from the exisiting slab to create a true oversized paver patio for the grill and table. This is the area I’m most bummed about. We can’t build a pergola or anything because we don’t want to limit anymore sun exposure for our living room. It is west facing and super dark for most of the day. My dreams of wandering around to my future hot tub also feel shattered lol.

Along the fence we will be investing in mature trees that fill in with quicker growth rates for our region. But of course that takes time to make any significant impact. We can’t really build a big berm due to water drainage the way this area is sloped.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Comments (38)

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    13 days ago

    Suggesting the neighbor use a berm seems a little too 'helpful.' Why would a berm be needed if a plant is capable all on its own of attaining height? In the end, adding a couple of feet at the bottom isn't going to make any appreciable difference on a tree's ultimate height, which will easily exceed your needs. Same on your side with the raised planter. You'd be better off picking taller material than expecting the planter to compensate for any height shortage. Seems that your neighbor and his willingness is really taking care of all your privacy needs anyway.

  • laceyvail 6A, WV
    13 days ago

    if the fence is 6 feet tall, small trees would solve the problem in a few years. Even a couple of large shrubs would work--I have a Viburnum sargentii 'Susquehanna' that would be plenty tall and wide enough--mine is about 15x15.

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  • Anna (6B/7A in MD)
    13 days ago

    Or even a single American Smoketree. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want to see into your space anymore than you want him to.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    13 days ago

    I don't understand this privacy thing. If it was this big a deal, you should have bought the lot next door. I don't care if anyone sees my naked butt getting in and out of my hot tub. It ain't all that, believe me.

  • PRO
    Yardvaark
    13 days ago

    @Joseph Corlett, LLC ... the value to a neighbor would depend entirely on how "hot" you are. :-)

  • suedonim75
    13 days ago

    You can't build a berm because of drainage issues, but his drainage issues aren't being considered?

    You're neighbor is really cool by offering to help, I don't think most people would care.

    I don't really understand people being upset about their privacy when they buy lots in a subdivision. If you truly want a private backyard, build in a secluded area.

  • Nicole R Dsp
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    Jeez guys I wasn’t asked to get scrutinized. If I could have afforded the lot or multiple acres I would have. This neighborhood offers a lot of space between properties, so it was alarming when a two story popped up over lookeing my backyard.

    I’m just looking for advice so we can feel a little more private, not unproductive commentary about how I shouldn’t care. And thanks Yardvaark, you are right in the berm. I lived in another house where they did it to separate backyards and it was very effective. But I think his higher elevation will accomplish that. His drainage is also being considered, his lot slopes towards us so if anything it’ll more so effect us.

  • suedonim75
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    I‘ve Never built a house, and after reading Houzz threads, never will. When you buy your lot, aren’t you told what is/isn’t allowed to be built. And isn’t there rules, or lack of rules where to place on the lot? If 2 story homes were allowed, how is it a huge surprise when one pops up on the neighboring empty lot?

    Im not digging on you, Its more of a general statement. If I was building a home, all of this would factor in to my decision. I see threads where people are mad because someone sells a decades empty lot and now a house is going in and they lost their “view”. Or someone moved in next door and they have kids and now they have to (gasp) listen to children playing. Im Sorry you think your privacy is lost, but you honestly never really had it. Not while living in a neighborhood.

    My neighbors have a hot tub and I never watch what they’re doing. It’s just not interesting to me to watch people sit in water. And for the love of everything holy I hope I never get a glimpse of them naked.

  • patriceny
    13 days ago

    This whole "someone can see" me thing is fascinating to me.

    I swear I'm not poking at the original poster with this comment. It's just a general observation because it comes up all the time.

    I was just posting this on another thread, but I CRAVE sunlight. During the day my blinds and curtains are wide open so sunlight can come pouring in. It's so interesting to me to walk around my neighborhood and notice how many places always have their blinds and curtains closed up tight.

    I have a friend who always keeps her window blinds closed so I asked why and she said, so no one could look in. I don't get it. WHO is going to look in? If someone is walking by on the sidewalk, you can't really see in during the day anyway. Unless you're running covert operations for the CIA, who cares?

    Many of us live in subdivisions and neighbors can see in our backyards. I also don't care about that either. I don't think most people are actually paying all that much attention to things they should be paying attention to, so they sure as heck aren't fascinated by my sitting outside and reading a book or weeding my flowers. And if they are, more power to them. LOL.

    Is this an American thing? I don't see much of this in Europe anyway, this concern that "someone can see me..." ?

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
    13 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    ”Is this an American thing? I don't see much of this in Europe anyway, this concern that "someone can see me..." ?”


    I don't know where where you’ve been in Europe but where I’ve lived privacy is very important. For example, the idea that putting up a fence is in some way unfriendly is an alien concept to me which I never heard of until I started frequenting these fora. I would hate to live in a home with no visible boundaries where neighbours could walk into my property. Nor do think it considerate to force the neighbours to see everything we do.

    Although we often live on small lots very close together we still crave privacy and do our utmost to achieve it including having fences, walls and hedges at the front of our houses and having little or no concept of ’kerb appeal’. Blaming a person for not buying a neighbouring lot is unbelievable. We are not all in a position to spend what we like. But I am surprised the new home got planning permission given its inconsiderate positioning.


    In the OPs situation I’d plant 3 or 4 small trees like Cornus, Malus, Crataegus, Sorbus, Cercis or whatever suits your climate and conditions. Some broad leaf evergreens and a conifer or two if you want screening in winter too.

    eta re comment below. That’s the problem with using ‘Europe’ as a catch all. The Netherlands is in Europe but it isn’t Europe. Every country is different. I’ve seen the uncurtained windows there too. But they still have hedges, fences and gates.

  • Jen K
    13 days ago

    @patriceny - I agree! During my multiple daily walks I'm amazed at how many houses are shut up tight - all windows, first and second floors. The only windows we have closed most of the day are our main bedroom because they're west facing in Texas sun.

  • anj_p
    13 days ago

    @Jen k, a lot if people work during the day and don't want their homes open for others to see in at will, especially burglars who can see what a nice tv you have, etc. our shades are closed all day for that reason. we open them when we get home.

  • Jim Mat
    13 days ago

    Are you hot?


    A friend lives in a hilly urban area, because of fire danger, (Oakland CA) is encouraged to keep his trees trimmed.

    His neighbors East and North can look into his yard, he can look into the neighbor on the south.

    We walked out onto his patio when the neighbor to the south was sunbathing, topless.. She casually gathered her things and went inside, we turned our backs.




  • ShadyWillowFarm
    13 days ago

    I doubt the neighbor designed and situated his house so that he could have a perfect view of someone’s backyard. That’s just how things are with small lots. I would not count on the neighbor to block the view, by the time the build is complete he will probably be over budget anyway. And mature trees are wicked expensive. It’s the OP’s job to block the view, not the neighbors. OP, you’ll have to put up mature trees on your side of the fence if you want the view blocked.

  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    We have two mature couples who are very good friends, to us and to each other, in our neighborhood. They lived next door to each other for years. Both had raised decks on the backs of their houses, one very private because of the way it was sited and the other not. Both had a flight of steps down into the yard.

    One morning Friend #1 went next door to Friend #2’s deck, climbed the steps, and caught Friend #2 drinking his morning coffee in his underpants on his deck.

    The next day, Friend #2 dismantled his steps so his deck can only be accessed from the house.

    They still remained friends.

  • Anna (6B/7A in MD)
    12 days ago

    ^^^hahaha

  • Jen K
    12 days ago

    @anj_p: "especially burglars who can see what a nice tv you have" They know what kind of TV you have (everyone has a flat screen and usually more than one) and odds are when you put the boxes out after your purchase, you leave them intact so everyone knows what you have (if you didn't already post it on social media). Same with your unsecured trash cans. Suburban America burglaries are crimes of opportunity and rarely cased event. Everyone in the burbs has the same stuff; The burglars just looking for easy access.

    And you said you keep your windows closed when you're gone which tells the burglar that you're gone. If you only open your windows when you're home closing them is signal - if anyone were paying attention.

    It's an observation - no one is judging you - hackles down.

  • frankielynnsie
    12 days ago

    You can plant many things for privacy (my favorite would be leafy evergreen shrubs trained as small trees with full tops) and it is great that the neighbor is on board with this. The bigger issue is to make sure his runoff isn't ending up in your yard. You can add lattice panels to your patio for temporary privacy.

  • anj_p
    12 days ago

    @jen k my comment about TVs was a joke. my point was most people aren't sitting in their homes with their shades closed worrying if their neighbors can see in.

  • Nicole R Dsp
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Thank you Frankie for the helpful comment.

  • Elaine Ricci
    12 days ago

    I don't believe that there's anything sinful in being seen naked. That said, I am sensitive to the fact that not everyone feels that way. Therefore, I take privacy measures to protect others from seeing what they might rather not. I also see the value in not advertising whether or not we are home.

  • frankielynnsie
    12 days ago

    Look at the evergreen large leafed Ligustrum pruned in a tree form. (Google ligustrum, tree form and check out the images.) My daughter and son in law have these and they are quick growing and make pretty, very full at the top trees. Their branching is also attractive. small trees. Tea olive will also make a nice small tree with pruning and their flowers smell nice. See if they will grow in your area. They also look good spaced out as a background for other plantings. If hydrangeas will thrive in your area they also get tall quickly. The only draw back would be they are deciduous. Nothing is instant, it will take 5 to 10 years depending on the size you buy.

  • Olychick
    12 days ago

    I'm so sorry this is happening. With one acre lots, I would have never expected someone to build right up on my property line either. I totally get not wanting to share your back yard and the view into your home with the neighbors. Just because other posters don't "get" your dismay, that doesn't mean it's not valid for you. It's not their yard or life.


    Although your fence height is restricted by codes, you might be able to build a freestanding structure that could help block some of the view until the trees grow in. It could take 5 or more years to attain the height and fill in enough to provide any privacy. My guess is the upper windows will be bedrooms and will probably have window coverings since they won't want you looking in there either. So you mostly have to worry about the 1st floor windows to block.


    On the area of the porch by the bbq, I think you said you'll do a roller shade, but you could also look at some kind of obscured glass/plexiglass panel on the top portion where you've colored it brown. That would allow light into your area and block the view to and from his house. You said no pergola,but one out by the fence isn't going to be tall enough to block the sun. Some ideas:










    there are some good ideas here, too:

    https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/the-best-10-plants-to-grow-for-backyard-privacy-50057#arborvitae-hedge-in-the-backyard

    glass panel for patio/porch/deck ideas:





    The good news is that this will all fill in eventually and you'll have your privacy. It's just hard to suffer through the waiting.

  • ulisdone
    12 days ago

    I understand about wanting privacy, but it is more than that: a back garden should be a place where one can “chill” in a beautiful, safe nature filled surrounding. As soon as you introduce “other” people into your sight, your body has an adrenal reaction, and you move out of that zone of relaxation.

    You live in a wooded area, so you are already getting the benefit of the trees, but I would plant a native type ( so it survives with little maintenance) line of conifers at the fence. Most areas ( don’t know where you live) have a native type of cedar. This will give you privacy as well as green-ness in the winter.

  • Nicole R Dsp
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Thank you Oly and Ulisdone!

    I live in Central Oregon, so we are looking at spruces, cedar, hemlock, and fir. You said exactly what we have in mind. I know there are some spruces that fill in super thick and grow reasonably quick. We’ve accepted that we will be spending a hefty chunk of change this fall when weather permits planting.

    Olychick, I also was thinking something along those lines for the paver patio! Thank you so much for adding to the inspiration. And thanks for acknowledging my disappointment, his lot is actually over and acre, but a long rectangle. We actually know the guy pretty well from before his lot purchase and he sounds happy to help on his side too so at least we’ve got that going for us. I think anyone would be bummed in my shoes.

  • suedonim75
    12 days ago

    No one is saying the OP doesn’t deserve privacy.

    When you build on a lot that allows 2 story homes, it shouldn’t be a surprise that one pops up. We don’t know why the neighbor built his in that location, there must be a reason, but I’m sure it wasn’t out of spite.

    This isn’t just a privacy issue, she also mentions having a glaring view from the dining room. When she bought her lot, I guarantee she knew the other lots would be built on at some point.

    He has went above and beyond by offering to plant trees. His house likely wont be finished for a few months. By next summer, all of this might not even be an issue. Fix your yard the way you want it to be and just enjoy it.

  • Nicole R Dsp
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Something like this could work well, maybe grow some hops and/or vine maple up it?

  • Nicole R Dsp
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    I also failed to mention that all permanent structures have to be a minimum of 10ft off the property line.

  • A S
    12 days ago

    I know exactly how you feel! Our neighbours deck is built onto the lot line. It was here first and we bought this lot to build on and did know what we were in for. Even still I am annoyed by the closeness. But after almost two years I also just use the yard however we want. If they want to stand on the deck and stare down at us really they are the ones that seem odd not us enjoying the yard.

    We live in Vancouver so climate not far off yours. To date we have a six foot fence as well as trees slowly maturing. Our most recent purchase is an evergreen magnolia but it will take years to really obstruct the view of the neighbour.

    In the meantime we use angled patio umbrellas when out on our back patio. Works like a charm.

  • Jim Mat
    12 days ago

    Oly (WA State, Olympia Beer?) posted some great pictures. A friend built a lattice thing, then moved; rented, then sold. He did not like his neighbors, similar view, but his neighbors were loud and had many guests.

    i think the angled patio umbrellas are a great idea.

  • Olychick
    12 days ago

    Yes, Jim, that Olympia! Beer no longer made here; well, lots of artisanal brewers, but no more Olympia Beer.


    I've seen some people get around the 10 foot minimum set back by putting their posts in 5 gallon or larger buckets/containers filled with concrete. Not a permanent structure. ;-)

    I'd be tempted by something like this, esp for the hot tub, that could be covered or open as you choose:



  • Nicole R Dsp
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Thanks AS, Jim, and Oly! I found these beautiful examples for the hot tub, could have it tie into whatever pergola set up we do. Just want to keep the top open so you can see the stars, next to no light pollution out here. The tilted umbrella is great as a temp resolution!

  • Olychick
    12 days ago

    that's why I liked the one with the cloth cover on top. You could close it if you ever want the privacy and slide it open to view the stars. You could even have it rigged to open and close from the tub so you could get into it nekked if that's what you're planning, then open the top.

  • Cheryl Hannebauer
    11 days ago

    following

  • PRO
    JudyG Designs
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    As Olychick has posted, work with what you have…the fence. Make a plan and add higher pieces to the area of the fence which will give more privacy. Plant fast growing plants like euonymus, which stay green year ‘round. We have different varieties growing all over our fence which surrounds the pool…not for privacy, but because I hate naked fences.






    https://www.thetreecenter.com/silver-queen-euonymus/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw6PD3BRDPARIsAN8pHuEaYXGKKWe5RQpzAsREPdLLJmYgyzp_xixBa2ntti9RPxg0QQIYImoaAsibEALw_wcB

  • PRO
    Dig Doug's Designs
    11 days ago

    ideas:


  • Nicole R Dsp
    Original Author
    11 days ago

    Thanks AS, Jim, and Oly! I found these beautiful examples for the hot tub, could have it tie into whatever pergola set up we do. The titles umbrella is great as a temp resolution!

    Thanks Judy and Doug! That gives a nice perspective of what we can pull off!! I wanted to plant some rhodes too so I like where this is going!