Making Sure Your Private Pool Really is Private

Two nosy neighbors peeking over the pool fence

So, you’re in your backyard when suddenly you get that uncomfortable feeling. You know the one – the one that says you’re being watched.

Maybe your neighbor’s kitchen window overlooks your property. Or perhaps part of your yard is viewable from a busy street. The thing is, there doesn’t have to be someone actually watching you – just the feeling that they could be is enough to keep you from fully relaxing.

This is something a lot of homeowners grapple with, but when you have a swimming pool, it’s a major issue. For one thing, as a pool owner, you feel the need for privacy more keenly because you tend to spend more time in your backyard than the average person. Also, even if you don’t have particularly nosy neighbors, the sight of a swimming pool – not to mention people frolicking in their bathing suits – has a way of grabbing people’s attention.

Fortunately, there are lots of options for making your pool the private backyard oasis it was meant to be. And you’ll be glad to know they generally don’t cost a lot of money (especially in the context of a pool installation or renovation project). Here’s a roundup of some of the best pool privacy ideas that you can mix and match to fit your needs:


In most areas, you already have to install a pool safety fence, so you might as well make it a privacy fence as well. That means using wood, vinyl, or another solid material, and possibly extending the height of the fence to block the view from nearby homes. Keep in mind that just as there is likely a minimum height (generally 4 feet) required for a pool safety fence in your area, there is probably also a maximum height (generally 6 feet) allowed for privacy fences. What that means is that, in many cases, fencing alone doesn’t solve the problem.

Privacy Screens/Panels

Outdoor privacy screens come in many different forms, from basic options you can find at your local home improvement store to elaborate custom creations. One thing they all have in common is that they can be very effective at blocking lines of sight, providing instant privacy for swimmers and sunbathers. Because they come in so many different styles, privacy screens can fit into just about any pool area. With their adaptability, affordability, and movability, they offer a simple solution to many privacy issues.

Canopies and Umbrellas

The same tools you use to block the sun can also be used to block the view of onlookers. Sail canopies and umbrellas work well for both the patio and the pool itself. If you’re planning a Baja shelf (aka tanning ledge), consider equipping it with an umbrella sleeve or two so you can relax out of the sun and out of sight.

Trees, Bushes, and Plants

Thuja Green Giants, Leyland Cypresses, and other columnar evergreen trees grow quickly and can form an effective “living privacy screen” around the edge of your property. Another idea is to layer plants of various sizes around the pool area, creating a sense of tropical seclusion. Even potted plants can help with privacy, while also enhancing the look of your pool deck. Just be sure to avoid putting anything near the water that attracts bees, constantly dumps leaves/flowers into your pool, or poses a prickly hazard to swimmers.

View of an inground swimming pool from the water, with an evergreen hedge maintaining privacy for swimmers
Evergreen trees and bushes create a “natural privacy screen” for swimmers.

Water Features

Privacy isn’t just about sight, but also sound. If you don’t like the idea of neighbors overhearing your conversations – or you overhearing theirs – consider a waterfall or other feature that drowns out voices in the pleasant sound of running water. Water features aren’t cheap to install or maintain, but they’re great for privacy and also bring a lot of visual pizazz.

Closeup of a waterfall built into an inground swimming pool, with flowers and a wrought iron fence in the background
If you enjoy badmouthing your neighbors while relaxing by the pool, you might want a water feature to drown out your voice.

Pergolas, Gazebos, and Other Structures

Pergolas and gazebos define outdoor spaces and can obscure the view of your patio, hot tub, and/or pool. In fact, any structure can effectively block sight lines, including pool houses and your home itself. With that in mind, it pays to consider privacy when deciding on pool placement and other major aspects of your poolscape.

A Private Choice

So, what’s the best pool privacy option? That’s a trick question, because it depends on the layout of your pool area, your budget, and many other factors. In the end, you may actually need to employ more than one of the above options to truly banish that feeling of being watched.

It’s also worth noting that privacy – while very important for pool owners – must be balanced against other priorities. Many of the privacy options that make it harder for other people to see your pool can also make it harder for you to see your pool. That could be a problem if you have children who need constant supervision around the pool, or if you simply want to enjoy the beauty of your pool as much as possible when you’re around the house.

All in all, the fact that there are so many privacy options is a good thing, even if it can be a little overwhelming. It makes it more likely that you’ll be able to find the perfect privacy solution for your pool.