DIY Outdoor Privacy Screen (How To Build A Decorative Screen For Your Garden)
Whether you want to add some privacy to your deck, would like to create a secret garden in your yard or are just looking for a creative way to add art to your garden, this decorative DIY outdoor privacy screen may be exactly what you need. It’s easy to build and creates a beautiful backdrop for your outdoor space.
Decorative DIY Outdoor Privacy Screen
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As part of my deck makeover, I wanted to add a screen to the back of my deck. In my case, it’s not so much for privacy, but to create more of the feeling of a secret garden room. (However, if they ever build something on the land behind my house, I’ll be happy to have my deck privacy screen).
Since you can see it easily from the windows in the house, the screen definitely needed to be decorative. And I also wanted it to prevent people from accidentally falling off the side of the deck if they backed a chair up too far. It’s only a 6-inch drop but still…
Originally, I was looking for some kind of large wrought iron art piece that I could hang there. But trying to find one that I liked and was big enough for the space was hard to do.
So I decided to build a lattice screen. Not quite as interesting, but I could hang some garden art on it to add some extra flair.
Then I discovered the perfect combination of deck privacy lattice and art…these decorative privacy screen panels.
With a few boards to make a frame, this decorative DIY outdoor privacy screen was really easy to make and looks great on my deck.
- 2 – 10′ x 4″ x 4″ posts. If you live in an area with very cold winters, you may need to get 12′ posts so you can bury the ends far enough down to go below the frost line.
- 6 – 8′ x 2″ x 4″ boards
- 2 – 8′ x 1″ x 2″ boards
- 3 decorative privacy screen panels*
- 1 package of 3/4″ black screws*
- 1 package of 2 1/2″ deck screws
- cement (optional)
- Saw for cutting the boards (I used a miter saw but you can use any kind of saw that will cut through the boards)
- Cordless drill
- Corner clamp*
- Reciprocating saw
- Post hole digger*
How To Build Your Deck Privacy Screen
Now, before we start, let me say that I was doing this by myself.
This would be much easier to install with 2 people, so I suggest finding someone to help you if you can (at least for the part where you are putting it up).
I will show you the way that I did it, and then tell you how I would have done it if I had help 🙂
Step 1 | Cut The Wood
For my DIY garden privacy screen, I used pressure treated wood. It’s the least expensive option and that’s what my deck is made from.
However, you can use cedar, redwood or any other type of wood that does well outdoors.
1. Cut four of the 2″ x 4″ boards to 6 feet long. I used a miter saw for this but any saw that will cut through 2″ x 4″ boards will work.
2. Cut two of the 2″ x 4″ boards to 6 feet 6 inches long.
3. Cut the 1″ x 2″ boards to 6 feet long.
When I have to cut multiple boards the same length, I usually take the easy way out. Measure the first one carefully and cut it.
Then use that board as the measuring stick for all of the others. Just make sure that the ends line up properly to get the right measurement.
Step 2 | Put Up The Posts
The next step in building your decorative DIY outdoor privacy screen is to put up the posts that will hold up your panel.
The screen will be about 6 feet 6 inches wide when it is done, so your holes will need to be that far apart.
1. Figure out where the posts will go. Since I was putting mine behind the gazebo, I wanted to make sure that the screen would be centered across the back of the deck.
2. Then dig the holes for the posts.
To make sure that the posts are sturdy and won’t fall over, I dug holes that are about 2 feet deep using my post hole digger*. (You definitely don’t need to go to the gym on the day you do this!)
Since I live in South Carolina where we don’t really have a frost line in the winter, 2 feet is far enough. However, if you live farther north, your holes will likely need to be deeper to make sure they don’t shift in the winter. (As an example, when I lived in Toronto, we used to bury posts 4 feet deep). I would use whatever the recommendations are for fence posts in your area.
3. To allow water to drain, adding a couple of inches of gravel to the bottom of the hole is a good idea.
4. Then put your posts into the holes and measure the distance between them to make sure your screen will fit. It should be about 6 feet 6 inches wide.
Don’t worry that your posts aren’t straight at this point…we’ll fix that later.
Step 3 | Build The Privacy Screen Outer Frame
Before I start building anything, I like to lay out my boards to make sure everything fits. So the finished decorative DIY outdoor privacy screen will look like this.
The top and bottom are the 6 foot 6 inch 2″ x 4″ boards, and the sides are the 6 foot 2″ x 4″ boards.
Now that we know we measured and cut everything properly, we’ll put together the privacy screen outer frame.
Make sure that the top and bottom boards are being attached to the top and bottom ends of the side boards. Otherwise your frame will be too short to fit the panels.
1. Butt the bottom board tightly to the bottom of one of the side boards and use the corner brace to make sure they are square.
2. Then use 2 1/2″ deck screws to screw the boards together. The corner brace has spaces left open so there is room for the screws to go in.
I used 3 screws at each corner to make sure the joints were not wobbling.
3. Repeat this process for all four corners.
Step 4 | Join The Privacy Screen Decorative Panels
Next, we’re going to create the decorative screen from the lattice panels.
1. Lay down the two 1″ x 2″ boards so that they are parallel to each other and about 4 feet apart.
2. Then line up the top of the first panel with the top of the 1″ x 2″ boards.
3. Use black screws to screw the decorative panel to the 1″ x 2″ boards.
There are pre-marked holes in all 4 corners so it’s easy to know where to attach them.
4. Line up the bottom of the next panel with the bottom of the 1″ x 2″ boards. Join the panel to the boards using black screws.
5. Add the last panel in the middle of the top and bottom ones, making sure it is centered between them. Attach the middle panel to the boards using the black screws.
Step 5 | Build the Privacy Screen Inner Frame
Now we’re going to attach the other pair of 2″ x 4″ boards to the sides of the decorative panel.
1. To get the panel to be centered in the middle of the 2″ x 4″ boards, put 2 scrap 1″ x 2″ boards under the panel.
2. Use deck screws to attach the 2″ x 4″ boards to the 1″ x 2″ board that is attached to the lattice panel. Pre-drilling the holes with a small drill bit helps to prevent the wood from splitting.
I usually eyeball where the holes need to be drilled. But if you want to take a more accurate approach, stack up a couple of 1″ x 2″ boards beside the 2″ x 4″ and draw a line across the top of them. Then drill your holes just above the line.
Step 6 | Attach the Outer Frame To The Posts
This is the part that I would do in a different order if I had a helper.
I thought the weight of the whole screen put together would be too heavy for me to lift and keep straight while I was attaching it to the posts.
So I decided to attach the outer frame to the posts first, and then install the decorative panels.
However, if I had help, I would swap step 7 and step 6. It would be easier to install the decorative panels in the outer frame while it was on the ground rather than doing it once the frame was attached to the posts.
1. Move the privacy screen frame so that it is centered between the posts.
2. Raise one side of it to the desired height. Mine is about 1 foot off the ground. Then secure it to the post using a clamp.
3. Raise the other side of the frame to the desired height and use a level to make sure the bottom rail is straight.
4. Then attach the frame to the posts using deck screws. Make sure that the sides of the frame are lining up with the sides of the posts.
Double-check that your frame is still level.
If you are having trouble getting the frame to line up with the posts, use a clamp placed across both boards (like the one on the bottom in the picture) to force the edges together.
Step 7 | Install The Decorative Panels
1. Center the privacy screen panel in the middle of the frame. There should be about 12″ on each side.
I used clamps to help keep everything in place.
2. Screw through the top board into both of the inner frame 2″ x 4″ boards using deck screws.
3. Do the same for the bottom board.
You should now have a free-standing decorative privacy screen.
Step 8 | The Finishing Touches
Once your decorative DIY outdoor privacy screen is up, use the level to make sure that the posts are standing straight up.
Then fill in the holes.
This is one time when living in an area with soil that is almost all clay is a benefit.
I can fill the holes back up with the dirt I dug up and that post isn’t going anywhere.
However, if you live somewhere that has more sandy soil, you will probably want to mix up some cement to fill the holes with. Otherwise your screen may not be as sturdy as you want it to be.
Finally, cut off the posts so they are even with the top of the privacy screen frame.
A reciprocating saw with a long blade is the easiest way to do this.
Then your decorative DIY outdoor privacy screen is done!
Add some comfy chairs and enjoy your deck.
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This post was originally published on April 22, 2019 but was updated with new content on December 9, 2021.