What I Did to Create Some Privacy for the Deck

12 Materials
2 Days

Last winter was rough on our trees. A couple of them lost fairly large limbs and several smaller ones. So, we decided to have a tree company come access them for health and whether or not they needed to be thinned so they wouldn't be as likely to lose limbs again. While they were accessing our 4 large trees, they discovered that one was sick and would have to be removed :( The tree that was sick shaded our lower deck beginning around 2 pm in the afternoon. It also provided privacy between us and our neighbors.

While I loved the shade and appreciated the privacy, I had NO idea just how much I would miss both when the tree was gone!

I was devastated not only at the loss of the tree but at how exposed I felt now when I was out on the deck. I asked the tree company if they could plant a new tree for us. They said they could but the best time to do so would be in the Fall or Spring. Drat! I didn't want to spend the entire Summer feeling exposed. I'd have to find an interim solution.

I started looking around for ideas on how to replace the privacy that we lost with the tree. The question was how. How do I create a shield between us and the neighbors? I can't plant something that would grow fast enough to help. Attaching lattice to the top of the fence would mess with the wood I installed to provide it some strength. So the hunt was on to find something to place on the lower deck that would provide privacy even from the upper deck.

A few days later, I was doing a little thrift shopping when I saw a faux ficus tree. Hmmm, I wonder how that would look on the deck? I decided to find out. I bought the tree for $35 (which I thought was a bit expensive from a thrift store). When I got home, I used the garden hose to wash off all the dust that was on the leaves. When the leaves dried, I 'planted' the tree (basket and all) into a ceramic planter that I had on hand. I filled the bottom with rocks, then packed dirt around the basket and placed some on top of it to make it look like a 'real' tree. I liked the look but the tree didn't cover much of the exposed area. Time to find a 2nd tree!

Since I had already been to a few thrift stores that day & hadn't seen any other trees, I decided to look on Facebook Marketplace to see if anyone was selling a faux tree. I found two that looked large enough to work on our deck & contacted one of the sellers. I arranged to look at the tree the following morning. The tree was much larger (it barely fit in my car!) than the first one I bought and it was only $25! I was thrilled!

Since I didn't have a 2nd planter, I would have to buy one. I found a variety of planters in the At Home store. At first, I thought a cement or ceramic planter would work but since this tree was bigger, I'd need a larger planter. The size I was buying was 16" x 16" and the cement & ceramic planters were VERY heavy so I settled on one made of composite. The price was $39. When I got home, I also washed the dust off this tree.

The planter was barely large enough for the styrofoam that encompassed the tree base, much less the basket so I removed the basket. Since the base of the tree just fit, I didn't have to add any soil. The tree came with decorative black rocks so I placed those on top of the styrofoam and also added a few larger rocks from our yard.

Now that both trees were potted, I didn't like the way the ceramic pot looked next to the composite one. So, I decided I'd buy another pot to match. I also thought it would be a good way to increase the height of the smaller tree.

When I got the new planter home, I added some large rocks to the bottom to raise the tree before placing the tree & basket in the pot. I filled the space around the basket with soil then added rocks to the top. I had purchased a bag of decorative black rock for $10. Although the smaller tree is still shorter, it looks better than it did in the first pot.

The trees were already helping give the deck a bit of privacy but the space between them could use some help. A privacy screen would be nice! My first thought was to use some lattice but that meant I would need to build a frame for it which would take longer than I wanted. I priced it out for the space and the supplies would be about $130.

So I decided to look around for another option. I looked around, both in the local stores and online, for other options. I found some trellis styles that I really liked. I settled on a white vinyl one that I found online at Lowes. It was $125. The height was 8' which would help with hiding the view of the neighbors' backyards; the width was 57" which would fit between the trees. This is the box the trellis came in.

Here are the pieces to the trellis.

I read the instructions before starting the assembly. It looked pretty easy to put together. The only tools listed were a drill with a screwdriver bit and a rubber mallet. They also suggest you have super glue or pvc glue on hand. I had all of those tools/supplies.

**You'll also need a small drill bit to drill holes in the vertical bars for installing stabilizing screws**

After reading the instructions, I laid out the right side panel and all the crossbars. The crossbars slipped easily into the side piece. The bottom piece and 1st crossbar went in first then each of the other 11 crossbars, starting at the one next to the bottom one.

The next step was to slip the crossbars into the left side panel. It's helpful to have another person nearby to hold one side of the structure in place so you can tap the 2nd side with a rubber mallet to make sure all the bars are snug against the outer side of each side panel.

Now that the crossbars have been inserted in the sidebars, it's time to insert the vertical bars. The instructions have you insert the longest/center bar in first then work side to side with the other bars. The bars decrease in size from the center to the outside. To keep them in size order, I organized them by length.

As with the crossbars, the vertical bars slipped into their holes easily. The next step was to screw them in place. Here is where I realized I had missed a tiny detail - making sure all the screw holes were on the same side of the trellis. Lucky for me, the center crossbar was the only one that was on the opposite side. I thought about removing all the vertical bars to flip that center crossbar but then decided that wasn't really necessary.

When I started to install the first screw, I realized the vertical bars were not pre-drilled. Since the vinyl is flexible, I wanted to make sure the bars were straight before drilling, so I used a yardstick to measure the distance between the crossbars. Using a small drill bit, I drilled a hole in each of the places where the screws would go. I then used a manual screwdriver to install the screws. *To protect the vinyl from the cement, I set a washcloth beneath the area I was installing the screws.

The last step in the trellis assembly is to glue the finials in place. Using a few drops of Gorilla glue applied to the inside of each of the finials, I set them in place at the top of each of the verticle bars & side panels.

Once the glue was dry, hubby and I carried the trellis to the deck. It is pretty lightweight so I could have carried it myself. However, we needed to lift it over the side of the deck because it was too wide to make the corner at the top of the stairs. The trellis fits perfectly between the trees! I used a zip tie on the center crossbar to secure it to the railing & also pushed the planters up next to it to help stabilize it further.

The trellis looks great between the trees! We are almost there with the amount of privacy I was looking for. Now to add a little greenery to the trellis. Both of the trees came with some vines at the base of their trunks & I also bought a couple of vines at Walmart for $3/ea. Using florist wire and wire cutters, I attached all the vines I had on hand. I liked the look but hubby thought we could use just a tad more coverage.

I didn't have any more faux greenery so we stopped by Walmart again to get some. They didn't have any vines so we bought sunflowers! There were 5 sunflowers in each bunch. I bought two bunches @ $3 ea. I added those to the trellis and still wanted a bit more so I found some large faux leaves at Michaels. They were on sale for $2.50 a bunch. Once again, I bought two bunches (16 leaves). The greenery for the trellis was $17. When all the greenery was secured to the trellis, I finally felt like I had the privacy I was looking for!

A bonus that I did not expect is that the privacy screen also provides shade on the lower deck!

We spent almost $300, see the cost breakdown below. The cost would have been the same if I had chosen to build with lattice. I had all the other supplies on hand.

Cost of Privacy Screen

  • Greenery $17
  • 2 faux trees $60
  • 2 planters $78
  • Black rocks $10
  • Trellis $125
  • TOTAL: $290

View from the other side.

When Winter comes, all I'll need to do it remove the one zip tie so I can store the trellis in the shed. I plan to cover the trees.

While our privacy screen does not replace all the privacy and shade we had with our 25 yr old tree, it does provide enough for me to relax on my deck and that feeling is priceless! I am looking forward to picking out a new tree and having it planted this Fall!

Supplies Used

  • 2 faux ficus trees
  • Vines & sunflowers
  • Florist wire
  • Wire cutters
  • 2 16"x16" composite planters
  • Soil & rock
  • Gloves
  • Kneeling pad
  • Step ladder
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Rubber mallet
  • Gorilla glue
  • Zip tie(s)

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Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  2 questions
  • WyldSage WyldSage on Jul 11, 2021

    Some faux trees and large plants have slightly adjustable limbs. Have you tried moving the limbs to get more coverage?

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Jul 16, 2021

    'Just wondering if the trellis was purchased from Lowe's.com or Lowe's.ca?


Join the conversation

4 of 35 comments
  • Pam Pam on Jul 28, 2021

    We lost a sick elm tree that provided cover and shade and we really miss it! Thanks for the post. It looks great. I will be on the lookout for some artificial trees. 🙂

    • Jeanne Jeanne on Jul 28, 2021

      It is hard to deal with the loss of the tree and all it provided. Good luck finding the perfect faux trees! 😎

  • Joannaliddy Joannaliddy on Aug 01, 2021

    All 8 of our huge White Ash trees succumbed to the Emerald Ash borer and had to come down and do we ever miss the shade and privacy they provided. Its necessary now to shut our front door against summer heat that used to be in shade afternoons. Winters are now draftier also with the loss of the windbreak the trees provided. So the lesson here is not take trees for granted ...

    • Jeanne Jeanne on Aug 01, 2021

      Oh man! That’s awful! I’m sorry for your loss 😩

      I agree and will no longer take my trees for granted.