Whether you want to cut down on the sprawl that makes your large lawn look more like a football field than a place to relax or just need some ways to add depth and interest through separate zones, the options available to you are many. The strategies that homeowners use to create a little privacy also work well for dividing a yard into separate spaces.
A Living Screen
Perhaps the simplest and fastest option is to erect a trellis -- or a series of trellises -- around the area you want to separate from the rest of the yard. A simple set of posts with wires stretched between them will get you started; around each trellis, plant fast-growing vines that will grow onto the wires. One option is trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), which grows about 15 feet per year and is hardy from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. If you want an edible alternative, consider growing grapes (Vitis spp.), such as European grapes (Vitis viniferia), which are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9 and grow 10 to 15 feet per year.
Hedges or bushes also can separate parts of the yard, though they will take longer to do the job you've enlisted them to do unless you buy ones that are already fairly large and well-established. An evergreen shrub is ideal for providing year-round yard separation because it won't lose its leaves in fall. A common choice is arborvitae (Thuja spp.), including the North American varieties, such as eastern arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis), hardy from USDA zones 2 through 7, and the fast-growing giant arborvitae (Thuja plicata), hardy from USDA zones 6 through 8a.
Classic Picket or Split-Rail Fences
You already may have a fence surrounding your yard's perimeter, but you could install more fencing to divide areas within your yard. If you don't want to install a tall privacy fence, consider using a picket fence or split-rail fence, through which you'll be able to see more distant parts of your yard. Another option is to use a combination of several concepts and install a lattice fence, next to which you grow vines or other climbing plants.
Path or Patio
Dividing your lawn doesn't have to involve a vertical structure or planting. Simply installing a path through an area can help divide spaces. Similarly, a patio can help separate one part of the yard from another part. If you decide to install a patio, then placing potted plants, planters or flowerbeds around it would block off the area a bit more from the surrounding space. Concrete, bricks, pavers or other materials can be used to make the patio.
- University of Minnesota Extension Service: Vines -- Growing a Living Screen
- Fine Gardening: Campsis Radicans (Trumpet Creeper)
- University of Illinois Extension: Grape (Vitis Vinifera)
- Morton Arboretum: Arborvitae -- Tree of Life
- Monrovia: Emerald Arborvitae (Thuja Occidentalis "Emerald")
- This Old House: Layered Privacy Plantings -- 10 Ways to Add Privacy to Your Yard
- The Old Farmer's Almanac: Grapes
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Thuja Plicata, Giant Arborvitae
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Thuja Occidentalis, White Cedar
- Photo Credit Thomas Jackson/Lifesize/Getty Images