How to Build an Outdoor Privacy Screen

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We live in the suburbs, so our yard size is adequate but not large. We love our neighbors, but sometimes we want to eat a meal outside or get a little sun while enjoying some privacy. One of my favorite things about this project is that it doesn't require cutting any wood! We worked with the dimensions of the posts and lattice, which made the process much faster. For this project, we used a combination of cedar lumber and pressure-treated lattice. The eight-foot-tall posts go into the ground about two feet, creating an outdoor screen that's about six-feet tall — just enough height to give the family some privacy while eating dinner on the patio!

(Image: Julia Fain)

Things You'll Need

  • 4-foot x 8-foot pressure-treated lattice 
  • 4 x 4 cedar post, 8 feet long (2)
  • 2 x 4 cedar boards, 8 feet long (2)
  • Drill with screwdriver bits
  • 2-inch deck screws
  • 4-inch deck screws
  • Carpenter's square
  • Mallet
  • Post-hole digger
  • Tape measure
  • Gravel
  • Level
  • 60-lb. bag of high-strength concrete mix
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Water hose
  • Paddle mixing attachment for drill
  • Small shovel
  • 2-quart galvanized paint buckets and flowers (5)
  • S hooks (5)

Step 1

Lay out the 2 x 4 cedar boards spaced about 4 feet apart. Then lay the lattice on top of the cedar boards and adjust the pieces so the edges of the 2 x 4s are flush with the top and bottom of the lattice.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 2

Attach the lattice to the bottom of the cedar board with 2-inch deck screws spaced about every 6 inches along the bottom edge. Repeat to secure the top edge of the lattice to the other cedar board.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 3

Lay the 4 x 4 cedar posts underneath the assembled lattice panel, perpendicular to the cedar boards. Adjust so the lattice extends 4 inches above the top of the cedar posts.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 4

Use a mallet to tap the boards and posts into alignment, so the edges are exactly flush.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 5

Attach the lattice panel to the posts with 4-inch deck screws driven through the lattice and cedar boards and into the cedar posts. Drive three 4-inch screws per corner, for a total of 12 screws.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 6

Determine the position for your privacy screen, then dig the first post hole about 24-inches deep, using a post-hole digger.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 7

Repeating step 6, dig the second post hole, approximately 8 feet away from other hole, measuring outer edge to outer edge.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 8

Add a small amount of gravel to each hole for drainage and to help prevent wood rot.

Tip

  • Even though cedar posts have natural resistance to rot, you may want to apply a wood sealer to the bottom two feet of the posts to improve their durability once imbedded in concrete.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 9

Carefully lift the privacy screen upright, placing the posts into the holes.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 10

Adjust the screen so it's perfectly upright (plumb) and level from one end to the other. Then use scrap wood to prop up it into place.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 11

Add 1/2 bag of concrete mix to a 5-gallon bucket.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 12

Spray a small amount of water into the bucket.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 13

Mix with a paddle attachment until the mixture is the consistency of pancake mix. Add more water in small increments as needed (making the concrete too wet will reduce its effectiveness).

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 14

Using a small shovel, fill one post hole until the concrete is flush with the grass.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 15

Repeat steps 11-14 with remaining 1/2 bag of concrete and the other post hole.

Tip

  • Slightly mounding the top of the poured concrete against the posts while it's still wet (so the footings slope up away from the lawn surface) will help the footings shed rainwater away from the posts and will slow their decay.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 16

Add a small amount of soil to the galvanized paint buckets and gently plant your flowers of choice. These are small planters with a small amount of soil, so flowers with low-moisture requirements are best. Petunias or geraniums work well, especially "wave" or ivy varieties that cascade downward.

Tip

  • Drill a few small holes in bottom of the buckets to provide drainage. Flowers that become waterlogged in sealed planters will likely die.

(Image: Julia Fain)

Step 17

Hang the buckets on the lattice screen, using an S hook.

(Image: Julia Fain)

This wood screen adds loads of character to a backyard and gives an outdoor patio space a little extra privacy. The project was budget-friendly, with materials costing around $100, and it can easily be completed in an afternoon (plus drying time for the concrete).

(Image: Julia Fain)
(Image: Julia Fain)
(Image: Julia Fain)
(Image: Julia Fain)

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