10 Genius Ideas To Keep Your Backyard Hot Tub Private

As humans, we're driven by the innate need to seek periodic solitude, away from work commitments and household stressors — and the hot tub in our backyard seems like the perfect haunt for it. But with neighboring homes tottering upon one another, such slivers of respite are hard to come by. Instead of blankly staring at the vista, sharing a heart-to-heart conversation with your partner, or just imagining yourself in the shoes of the characters of "Hot Tub Time Machine," you squander your me-time screening for peeping toms or staring consciously into the eyes of a bemused neighbor. That wasn't what you had in mind while splurging your hard-earned dollars on a hot tub!

While there are options galore for keeping your backyard hot tub private — fences, hedges, gazebos, trellises, privacy screens, full enclosures, or classic rearrangements of outdoor furniture — making the decision isn't as straightforward. For starters, you must ascertain your pain points. Does your tub fall in the neighboring window's sightline, is it on the upper deck, or do the short walls allow the opposite house to peep in? This will define the requisite level of coverage necessary. You must also ensure that your privacy idea doesn't violate the local laws, building codes, or HOA rules (if your community has one), as they usually stipulate fencing requirements. Budget, aesthetic preferences, space needs, and weather conditions (too hot/windy) are other limiting factors. That being said, here are a few genius ideas to keep your hot tub private.

Spa umbrellas and shade sails offer some people- and sun-proofing

Imagine a neighbor staring into your bedroom from their balcony and blocking their view by pulling a shade. You can do the same to get more privacy in your hot tub with spa umbrellas. Coming in multiple shades and materials to match your hot tub's color and texture, these umbrellas present one of the many ways to make your backyard feel like a resort. Most models connect to and bend over your tub, creating a cocoon, although free-standing versions are available, too. Spa umbrellas are fairly portable, affording customizable protection depending on the sun's rays and leery eyes, and can be folded when off-duty. Some even come armed with LED lights to continue providing privacy at night.

The best part, though? You won't have to waste time on installation since they're ready to use. But if you want an immediate solution, pull in the umbrella shading your patio, and it will work just fine. Unfortunately, spa umbrellas may not be up to the task if your hot tub is unusually large or placed at an elevated height. In such cases, shade sails might work better as overhead privacy. Hang them from trees or posts to create a cinematic façade while keeping the environment airy. But skip this option if your backyard lies in the way of strong gales.

Strategically planting greenery helps maintain a protected, au-naturale look

For those who aren't too keen on blocking their view with artificial features while lounging in the hot tub, rejigging the landscape's design might be the best bet. Think along the lines of "layering" or hedgerows. Based on your goals and aesthetic preferences, line the hot tub's perimeter with evergreen trees that give privacy all year round, or go big by starting at the backyard's edges. Low-branching, dense-growing evergreens like Leyland cypress, Canadian hemlock, eastern red cedar, savannah holly, and eastern arborvitae make great visual blockers, but ensure they're well-adapted to your location and don't create much litter. Mix in a few native shrubs, such as hazelnut and arrowwood for a layered effect. Round off with a bunch of ornamental grasses, ground covers, and wildflowers to add color and textural contrast and wildlife value. 

Such planting arrangements present a softer approach to blocking out lookie-loos. They mask all noise, too, moving beyond visual privacy. Besides, you can soak in nature's embrace without breaking the bank, particularly if you start with smaller plantings. This may extend the time it takes the hedge to grow out, but you might come to enjoy the mosaic look. Alternatively, you can incorporate raised beds or rocks in the backyard to supplement the privacy offered by the plants.

Gazebos and cabanas protect from weather elements and prying eyes

Although you might associate gazebos and cabanas with luxurious hotels or recreational beaches, they are becoming uber-popular with homeowners, too. While they're an entertaining essential for your outdoor space, especially if you love throwing barbeque parties, they double as show-stopping privacy enhancers. Plus, they're available in tons of options, so you can pick one that suits your fancy. Whether you prefer shutting things out completely or are open to the idea of keeping a few sides open, you'll find loads of alternatives to fit the bill. Some even offer bar spaces for that perfect "midnight winding down hour" or mosquito netting for those sick of being bitten during the rainy season. From wood, aluminum, and vinyl to metal, they come in different makes, finishes, and prices to keep the natural elements and onlookers out.

However, gazebos can be a hassle to build, if not expensive. Not to mention, their near-permanence makes them a poor fit if you're likely to move homes in a few years. The relatively inexpensive pre-built gazebo kits present a way out, but there's no escaping the effort to assemble the structure. Moreover, if you opt for the open models, you might have to invest in creating a plant fence or adding in curtains and drapes. Now, this can be fun if you love DIY projects. Otherwise, it can veer into unsettling territory. Likewise, full enclosures may need fixtures to create ventilation (all that steam!).

A living perimeter wall or trellis veils the hot tub's presence

If you're renting an apartment or have relocation plans, you might want to consider a more compact and affordable privacy option, such as a living wall. Just put up a trellis — comes in several materials, including metal and wood — next to your hot tub and train ornamental vines to grow over it or affix a few climbing plants you should grow on your property. This will let the sun in while keeping nosy neighbors out.

Clematis, morning glory, and climbing roses are some gorgeous options. But if you want a near-natural experience (and, simultaneously, return Mother Earth the favor), cardinal climber is a worthy alternative since it's well-liked by hummingbirds. Although Japanese wisteria and bittersweet are often touted as fast-growing options, their prolific growth makes them untenable in smaller backyards, so consider your options carefully. You might also want to pay attention to the pre-existing opacity levels of a trellis and whether it serves the purpose while the vines mature.

Alternatively, you can go the classic route of adorning a lattice with tastefully designed planters and hanging baskets to mimic a vertical garden. It affords similar benefits: easy installation, decent privacy, and colorful décor. Succulents and ferns are particularly trendy. Remember, living walls require generous maintenance in terms of training, pruning, and pest control, so ensure you're prepared to take care of them before using them as your privacy shield.

Freestanding decorative privacy screens are versatile privacy boosters

Privacy screens are worth the shot in comparatively smaller backyards where there is little else space to accommodate things other than the hot tub. Available in multiple designs and colors with varied functionalities, they're an easy-to-install privacy option. Price-sensitive homeowners can opt for manual models that are screwed to the deck or patio to create a permanent presence and can be fitted over the weekend. However, if budget isn't an issue, check out retractable screens that can be pulled out when you're ready to dip your toes and be put away when you don't need them, masking their presence completely and leaving the yard clutter-free. Faux ivy privacy screens are another aesthetic option for brown thumbs who love greenery but have a hard time keeping their plants alive. Otherwise, you also have the option to hire a contractor for a custom design, or go the DIY route if that's your forte.

Although privacy screens are generally affordable, the maintenance costs may rack up if you make poor material choices. For instance, while you might veer toward wooden screens for their raw, unprocessed look, their looks won't stand the test of time if they aren't resealed from time to time. Similarly, the modern look of metal screens can soon turn pastoral if you don't take care of the rust build-up. Frosted glass screens may require regular cleaning to remain in tip-top shape.

Curtains and blinds respond to ever-evolving requirements

Window treatments like curtains, blinds, and shades aren't limited to windows for establishing the boundaries between indoor intimacy and exhibitionist outdoors; they're an economical option for your backyard, too. Just attach a curtain track to the wall adjoining the hot tub and watch the cinematic, billowy magic unfold. Don't forget to add ties so that you can fold them back or leave them be, depending on the weather, time of the day, and your mood.

Unless you're a fan of the bold and dramatic, stick to earthy hues that seamlessly merge with the landscape. Also, consider the materials and patterns, as they differ in their water resistance, maintenance requirements, and weather adaptability. Polyester curtains are easy to care for and have scores of weather-resistant options. In contrast, canvas materials offer limited choices and are harder to maintain. Privacy levels are pivotal, too.

For instance, if you want a complete blackout, dark, heavy drapes are a better fit, although it may get uncomfortably hot inside during peak summers. But if you want to be swathed in a sunny halo while denying wandering eyes any specifics, sheer curtains are your friend. That being said, don't get too caught up in the details. These fixtures are quite easy to switch out if you change your mind. If there's no ready wall access, consider adding a pergola. Bonus points if you get one embellished with curtains for visual drama; it can get expensive, though.

Fencing or masonry walls are an affordable way to create a private backyard oasis

Installing fences around the property line is a time-honored tradition to create privacy, and your hot tub could greatly benefit from it. Fortunately, you're no longer expected to dig up holes to secure the fences in place. No-dig fences have become fairly popular, albeit they aren't as sturdy as their traditional counterparts. This begs the question: how to determine what style of fence your home needs? Timber fences continue to be the most inexpensive options and you can modernize them by installing horizontal slats. This allows better privacy control, as you get to decide if the slats will be placed tightly for a complete blockade or slightly apart to allow some light in.

But if you're tired of cedar and its limited staining options, opt for bamboo fences. They're trendy, sustainable, affordable, and durable. Although like the wooden ilk, they begin showing signs of wear and tear early, necessitating touch ups over time. You can opt for wooden slats or tinted glass on metal post combinations if they match your backyard's vibe better. But if your fence is going to be eerily close to the spa, look to vinyl fences, as they tolerate misting better. For building a more dependent and theatrical interest, look toward brick walls with a stucco finish. Sunny backyards may look more tropical with baked clay walls, whereas stone walls may add a touch of the Mediterranean.

Position the hot tub in a discreet corner for natural seclusion

Sometimes, it isn't about installing new features for privacy, it's about the location of your hot tub. Perhaps there's a specific section in your backyard that doesn't fall in the direct line of sight of your neighbors? Or, there's a detached wall where you can tuck in your hot tub? However, if neither option is viable, try matching the spa area's design with the home's exterior for a unified look. This simple trick will keep it from drawing your neighbor's attention.

Another option is to build a multi-story deck and place your hot tub on the lower floor for overhead privacy, provided it sits away from roads. Otherwise, you might have to complement it with a privacy screen or two. Tastefully rearranging your lounge chairs, fire pits, pre-existing fences, or patio furniture might do the job as well. In case your home opens up to partially enclosed walk-out spaces, use the area for your hot tub.

Naturally, to make this equation work, you should have easy access to plumbing, drainage, and power units. Moreover, the secluded spot shouldn't be too far from the main house, lest you feel exposed while making your way to your backyard retreat (or home after a relaxing soak). Plus, if it's too far from your backyard, it'll be difficult to pop in to grab items you need. Just imagine making a long-winded trip for a chilled beer; not happening, is it?

Top your hot tub with a dome for a futuristic look

If you've marveled at reels showcasing igloo-shaped spas with snow-capped mountains as backgrounds, inflated domes might fit that niche (sans the snow, of course; that's between you and Mother Nature). Offering a sleek, contemporary aesthetic, these domes are gaining popularity for their designs and convenience. Some permanent models double up as walk-ins by connecting directly to a side room, creating an awe-inspiring experience, whereas others are more portable and can be inflated and put up as required. For instance, when rain plays spoilsport or when your tub faces a busy road.

What behooves them to most homeowners is the multiplicity of features. Most models offer tinted panels that keep the area bright and lit while being sufficiently hazy to maintain privacy. While others offer retractable blinds and sliding doors for a modern — almost sci-fi if you let your imagination run wild — touch. Sliding rooftop options are also on the market if you want to let the steam out from time to time. 

Consider erecting a fully-enclosed pavilion

If you want your backyard to scream "luxury," a fully enclosed pavilion will fit the bill. They're usually spacious enough to contain the hot tub, an entertainment zone (think chairs, kitchen tables, TVs, bars, and such), and even a fireplace (if you want a woodfire pizza oven nearby), alluding to a thriving outdoor living space. You can also find smaller versions if space is a consideration. But most of all, their privacy is unmatched. They keep prying eyes out with solid roofing and four walls, as well as the weather vagaries that can mar your plans of enjoying a peaceful spa retreat in your backyard. Moreover, they come fitted with electrical provisions so you can ring in the night with ambient lighting and indie music. Semi-enclosed models are available for a lower price and you can deck them up with draperies or fences for personalized protection.

But if you aren't up for such an investment, look for fully-covered spa covers. They aren't as grand, but match the experience closely. They come in various sizes, ranging from a mid-range gazebo to a full-scale solarium, and offer storage space. Customization is another plus, as you get to decide whether they will have retractable awnings, blinds, or slats on the roof or a couple of sides to let the sun in.