Privacy screen to the neighbor: how to avoid trouble

Rules, rules, rules – when it comes to privacy protection from neighbors, there are a number of things that must be observed, otherwise there is a risk of trouble with neighbors or the authorities.

Drive to the hardware store, select privacy screen, assemble at home- ready! It could be as simple as this if you want to erect a visual screen to a neighboring property or apartment. Not in Germany. Because there are, as is well known, many rules and regulations. Here you can find out which regulations you have to observe if you want to erect a privacy screen to the neighbor, which options are available for gardens, balconies and terraces, and what you have to pay attention to with climbing plants that grow on privacy screens.

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View protection to the neighbor: This is what neighbor law says

If you want to erect a privacy screen on the property line, you can’t just do it on a whim. However, the jungle of rules and regulations is quite confusing, especially since different rules and regulations apply in every federal state. Getting through this is not so easy. Rules on the subject of visual protection are regulated here, among other things:

  • In the state building code of the respective federal state
  • In the local bylaws or the development plan (local building authority)
  • In the German Civil Code (BGB)
  • In the neighbor law of the respective federal state

To find out where you are allowed to erect a fence, a wall or a screen to your neighbor and how high they may be, you should first take a look at the building code of your federal state or the local bylaws before you take a look at neighbor law. Because the respective state building code and still more concretely the development plan, which is given by the local building authority regulates with priority all public-legal regulations in puncto property border, to which you must adhere.

Also in the Civil Code (BGB) you will find basic information on the subject of neighboring rights and the erection of fences or hedges. You can find more about this in "Who has to pay for the fence between two properties??".

Neighboring rights laws of the individual federal states

It becomes more concrete in the neighboring rights laws of the individual federal states. In contrast to the public-law state building code or the local bylaws (development plan), neighboring rights laws only regulate private-law matters. They are therefore not controlled by any authority, but can serve as a basis for argumentation in the event of a dispute.

In Bavaria, Hesse or Berlin, for example, the height of fences or hedges varies between 1.60 and 2 meters with a minimum distance of 50 centimeters to the property line. In Baden-Wuerttemberg, on the other hand, the local neighborhood law states: "With respect to other properties, dead enclosures- except wire fences and barriers- To keep a boundary distance according to the extra height that exceeds 1.50 m". Means concretely: A 1.50 meter high privacy screen directly on the property line is permissible in Baden-Wurttemberg. If the protection is 2 meters high, the minimum distance must be 50 centimeters. At 2.50 meters it is one meter and so on. There are also specifications for the installation of the walls to avoid the risk of accidents.

The rules sometimes vary considerably. As a rule of thumb, the closer the privacy screen to the garden border with the neighbor, the lower the allowed height. All neighboring rights laws of the individual federal states at a glance:

That applies to privacy screens in apartment buildings

Here you should always ask the landlord for written permission in case of fixed structural changes. This saves trouble when you move out later on. Sometimes attachments to the exterior facade or balcony are also clearly regulated by the community of owners. Whoever then puts up a blue and white tarpaulin where a dark gray one has been laid down, quickly has trouble on his hands. You can find more information about this topic in our expert tip "Is it true that you are not allowed to install a privacy screen on your balcony??".

Privacy screen ideas for garden, balcony and terrace

If you look around in the hardware store, you will find a large selection of different privacy screen options for the garden, balcony or patio. Whether wicker mat* (ad), privacy mat made of bamboo, privacy fences made of wood, plastic or wire mesh fence: they come in all shapes and colors and in different heights from 80 to 180 and sometimes even 200 centimeters.

More unconventional and at the same time environmentally friendly ideas are solar panels, which you can set up as a privacy screen, provided that you have the right compass direction. Not only do they provide privacy, but they also produce environmentally friendly electricity at the same time. Or use a vertical garden as a privacy screen.

In addition, there is also the possibility to provide privacy with a mobile privacy screen only temporarily. This can be for example a folding screen. There are also rollable privacy screens and so-called side awnings. They are simply mounted horizontally. Two pillars anchored in the ground give you the option to raise the awning cloth like a blind or a screen.

The more opaque the material and the higher the fence, the more privacy the privacy screen will give you in your own backyard.

Depending on the size of the area to be fenced, the choice of material and color also plays a big role. Dark colors and sturdy walls like gabions, although at the same time suitable as a noise barrier, crush small gardens.

Privacy screen on the balcony

An inconspicuous privacy screen on the balcony is generally allowed. However, you should check your house rules to see if there are any regulations regarding color and materials.

Privacy screen on the terrace

You can also erect a privacy screen on your patio if the fence on the property line does not provide enough privacy, for example in the form of a side awning or you take a fancy wicker screen(advertisement).

Keep also here to the regulations of the respective national building code, particularly if the screen borders laterally directly on the neighboring property. Make sure that when setting up the privacy screen, the neighbor does not suddenly find himself in the shade on his terrace. Check out ideas for a privacy screen on the terrace here. Alternatively, you can also put large potted plants on the terrace as a privacy screen.

Shadow games privacy

Privacy screen ideas for the garden

Light natural tones like bamboo or willow give a light and airy impression. If a privacy screen is needed quickly, reed mats* (advertisement) are ideal. They do not need much space, are cheap and translucent. However, her lifespan is limited.

Wattle fences made of plastic with printed motifs are a good transitional solution as a quick eye protection until the right fence is in place.

Compact fences along large areas combined with green plants lose rigor and appear more lively and open. Read here which climbing plants are particularly suitable as privacy screens.

Is it allowed to let climbing plants grow on the fence from the neighbor?

But what to do if the neighbor has erected a screen that does not suit your taste?? Instead of starting a neighbor dispute, you could instead just put some climbing plants in front of your neighbor’s fence and he’ll disappear behind a beautiful display of blooms. But is that allowed at all?

If you want to attach climbing plants directly to your neighbor’s fence, you should not do so without his permission. Because climbing plants such as ivy or wild vine can severely damage the fence. They cling to the fence with their adhesive roots, and removing them can seriously damage the fence and cost you dearly.

As a compromise, a trellis can be placed on your side of the fence. If the climbing plants then grow over your neighbor’s fence, he may cut off the overhanging parts and even keep them, according to paragraph 910 of the BGB, section 1. You can find more information about this in our guide "May I cut off my neighbor’s overhanging branches??".

What to do if the neighbor does not cut the hedge?

Some types of hedge are particularly popular as natural property boundaries, especially those that grow quickly and are very opaque. Even though natural privacy screens probably look nicer than any fence, here are rules you must follow. Your neighbor of course. How high he may let his hedge grow at all and which distances to the property line must be kept, you can read up for example in the neighbor right law.

Basically, however, whoever plants the hedge must also maintain it and that from both sides. ÜIf your neighbor’s hedge exceeds the maximum height or if the minimum distance to your property is not maintained, for example because the hedge is sprouting to the sides, you can kindly ask him to trim it. If he does not cut the hedge after several requests, you can also do it yourself and then even ask him to pay the costs incurred.

For more information and a list of the distance rules for hedges in all states, see:

Hedge as a property boundary: Everything you need to know

Hedges are popular as a property boundary. But they can also cause disputes between neighbors: Who cuts the hedge?? Where it may be planted? Who bears the cost? We explain everything you need to know about hedges as property boundaries. Learn more

*Product references are purely editorial and independent. Through the affiliate links we place, we get a small share of the commission when the purchase is completed.

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