When it comes to making your balcony or outdoor area a bit more private or hidden from your neighbors, there’s no need to spend a fortune, especially if you don’t have the budget for it. With a bit of planning and DIY, there are plenty of ways to block your neighbor’s view without breaking the bank.
And that’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article. Below, you’ll find 10 cheap ways to block a neighbor’s view of your balcony or outdoor area. Importantly, we’ve given a rough pricing guide for each. Most of our suggestions fall below $50, with the cheapest being free and the most expensive around $100.
It’s worth noting that these are only estimates, as the overall price will depend on the size of the area you’re trying to block.
The Advantages of a Cheap Privacy Option
While you can buy ready-made privacy screens, they’re quite expensive in the scheme of things. Instead, building your own can save money along with providing the following benefits:
- Can be tailored to your exact size needs
- Can be temporary or permanent
- Can fit in with your HOA/rental restrictions
However, finding cheap ways also means getting a bit more creative. Some of the options below are basically DIY privacy screens, while others focus more on careful placement of decorations or accessories.
10 Cheap Ways to Block a Neighbor’s View
1. DIY Lattice Screen
A lattice screen is essentially a kind of trellis but with a slightly different pattern. You can buy panels from gardening stores, although it’s not too difficult to make them.
For budget reasons, we’re using chicken wire. You can buy PVC lattices, but these are more expensive. Along with the chicken wire, you’ll also need some 1×4 pieces of pine, screws, and paint.
To build a DIY lattice privacy screen, do the following:
- Measure the area you’re covering and cut 4 pieces of lumber to the right height and 4 to the right width.
- Lay out 2 long and 2 short pieces in a rectangle and glue or screw together.
- Lay over the chicken wire (cut to size) and screw or staple in place.
- Put the other 4 pieces of lumber over the top to create a sandwich.
- Paint whatever color works best.
The main point of a DIY lattice privacy screen is to grow plants up it. As such, it’d be ideal for a balcony or for hiding a hot tub from view.
Price estimate: Less than $50. You can get a roll of chicken wire for less than $40 and can always use reclaimed wood to save money.
2. Plants, plants… and more plants
This might be a bit of a cheat for a DIY solution, but it does the job. You can simply grow tall plants in pots to shelter whatever you’re trying to cover. Big, bushy plants like bamboo work great.
For balconies, you could use railing planters and creeping plants rather than climbers.
Price estimate: Under $100 for a 5’ area. You can buy 15” plant pots for less than $20 and space them up to a foot apart. The plants will be the most expensive part, but you can save money by shopping around.
3. Folding Canvas Screen
The advantage of this DIY privacy screen is that you can fold it up when not in use. For this, you’ll want:
- Canvas fabric (suitable for outdoor use)
- 1×4 pieces of pine
- Screws and screwdriver
Simply do the following:
- Make 3 rectangular frames the correct height from the lumber.
- Paint or treat with wood stain.
- Stretch fabric over each frame and staple in place.
- Screw the panels together using hinges.
It’s a pretty simple method, making it suitable for all budgets and skill levels. Plus, as it’s foldable, it’s more temporary than some other options. You could use it for a hot tub or balcony as needed.
Price estimate: $40 for a 6’ area. You can find waterproof canvas for less than $5 a foot, and the other materials aren’t expensive.
4. DIY bamboo Fence
The easiest things to use for a DIY privacy fence are bamboo canes or reeds. They’re inexpensive and easy to fix together into whatever shape, pattern and size you need.
We’ve written a previous article explaining how to make your own DIY bamboo fence in depth, so check that out for more information.
Price estimate: Roughly $25 per foot. You can buy packs of bamboo canes for less than $10, but their thickness means you might need 3 canes per inch of fencing.
5. Tree Branch Screen
If you don’t feel like spending much money at all, this might be the option for you. Of course, it requires you to live near a forest or somewhere you can gather fallen tree branches.
All you need to do is screw, nail or tie tree branches to 2 vertical supports. You’ll need fairly straight branches, but a bit of bend in them will add character. For even better results, use driftwood gathered from a beach.
While this option won’t be as private as some other options on this list, it’ll disrupt the view enough. You could grow some plants up it to fill in the gaps, too. It would make a great hot tub shield or would suit a patio seating area.
Price estimate: Free if you have the time to gather the wood.
6. Plant Curtains
You could use real or fake plants to make a privacy screen. Using fake ones means you have immediate coverage, while real plants look a bit nicer. Either way, plant curtains add interest and are great for blocking more private areas.
They’re useful for basically any privacy need, providing you have something to hang them from. Of course, if you want something a bit more standard, you could use normal curtains instead.
Price estimate: Less than $20 for fake plant curtains; $50 or more for real plants.
7. Wattle Fence
If you’re interested in going medieval with your DIY outdoor privacy screen, why not build a wattle fence? Also known as cattle fences, they’re made by weaving flexible sticks together (typically willow – as seen above – or hazel).
You could really save money by gathering your own, although they’re not very expensive to buy. Better yet, you don’t need any screws, but you’ll probably need some cutters and a hammer.
It’s best to see a visual for this method, so check out this video on how to build a wattle fence. It’s a great project and can be used for anything from hiding garbage cans to sheltering your hot tub.
Price estimate: Less than $10 for 10-20 willow canes. Free if you can gather your own materials.
8. Recycled Materials
A great way to add interest to your backyard or balcony is with a recycled material DIY privacy screen. You could use anything, but some good options are:
- Old window shutters
- Corrugated iron or tin
Adapt some of the DIY methods above to turn these into screens. Window shutters, for example, would be perfect for a folding privacy screen.
Price estimate: Free or very cheap. A scrapyard is a good place to look for materials, and they often won’t charge. If they do, you have the benefit of being able to haggle.
9. Hang a Piece of Fabric or Sheet
Ever wondered what you can do with that extra piece of fabric or spare sheet? You can make an easy DIY view blocker in no time!
While this isn’t the most weather-friendly or permanent option for an outdoor space (especially if you’re not using specific outdoor materials), it will do the trick if you’re just looking for a temporary (and cheap) solution.
You’ll need to add eyelets or grommets to your piece of fabric and get some heavy duty adhesive hooks to hang it from the ceiling.
Since this method involves hanging fabric from the ceiling, it’s really only suited for a covered balcony.
Price estimate: $20-$30 for the adhesive hooks and grommets, provided you already have the piece of fabric.
10. Upcycle Old Tires
It might surprise you that tires can be used for a variety of projects around the home, and this includes DIY furniture and privacy screens! Simply stack tires on top of each other to create height as a view blocker or hang a tire from your balcony railing or ceiling as a privacy screen.
To add more interest, paint your tires a cool color and use them as a planter to block your neighbor’s view even more.
Price estimate: Free or very cheap. Check your local tire shops for used tires that they’ll want to happily get rid of. Your biggest expense here will probably be the paint to decorate the tires!
These cheap ways to block a neighbor’s view of your balcony or yard involve some work on your part, but they are perfect if you’re on a budget and often look much nicer than a store-bought alternative. Hopefully, these suggestions will inspire you to think outside the box with your materials and style. After all, there’s no reason why blocking a neighbor’s view of your yard means you must look at something boring!