How do I make the top of my fence private?

There are a few quick and easy ways to increase the privacy at the top of your fence without having to rebuild or replace the entire structure. The most common options include adding lattice, slats, plants or reeds. Each solution has its own pros and cons to consider before deciding which one is right for your needs and budget.

Should I Use Lattice?

Lattice is one of the most popular choices for adding privacy to the top portion of an existing fence. Here are some key factors to consider:


  • Inexpensive – Lattice sheets are readily available at home improvement stores and cost efficient compared to more complex solutions.
  • Easy to install – Lattice sheets can be attached to the top of the fence using zip ties, staples, nails or other simple fastening methods.
  • Lightweight – Thin lattice sheets are lightweight and easy for one person to handle and install.
  • Variety of styles – You can choose from diverse lattice designs including crisscross, diamond, square and more.
  • Allows airflow – The open-aired nature of lattice allows air, light and some visibility to filter through while obscuring direct lines of sight.


  • Not completely opaque – Lattice provides a blocked view but not total privacy like a solid fence or wall would.
  • Vulnerable to damage – Lattice is not very sturdy or resilient, so it can be damaged by strong winds or animals.
  • Requires ongoing maintenance – Expect to periodically repaint or replace sections as the lattice ages or deteriorates.
  • Not suitable for climbing plants – You cannot grow dense vines on typical wooden lattice sheets.

What About Adding Slats to the Top of My Fence?

Slats or louvers are another DIY-friendly option for retrofitting the top of your existing fence line for more privacy. Key considerations include:


  • Customizable privacy – Adjust the width between slats to control how much you want to obscure the view.
  • Blocks direct sight lines – Slats can fully eliminate over-the-fence visibility when installed properly.
  • Durable and sturdy – Wood, PVC or metal slats will be more resilient than lattice.
  • Long-lasting – Slats made of rot-resistant woods or PVC can last for decades with minimal upkeep required.
  • Affordable – Basic wooden fence slats are comparable in price to lattice sheets.


  • Obstructs air flow – Slats do not allow air circulation and light penetration the way lattice does.
  • Requires precise installation – Getting uniform spacing between each slat can be tricky and time consuming.
  • Can sag over time – Slats may begin to droop or sag if not properly reinforced and attached.
  • Not suitable for plants – Unlike lattice, slats do not offer a structure for climbing vine growth.

How About Using Plants for Natural Privacy?

Plants are an attractive and affordable option for topping off your existing fence with nature’s own privacy screen. Considerations include:


  • Natural aesthetic – Plants soften hard edges and add curb appeal better than structural add-ons.
  • Enhances air quality – Flowers, greens, and foliage filter dust from the air.
  • Provides habitat for birds and pollinators – Wildlife are drawn to the shelter and food sources.
  • Self-regenerating – Plants self-propagate to fill gaps and repair damage done by weather.
  • Low maintenance – Minimal trimming or training required once established.


  • Takes time to establish – Most climbing vines take 1-3 growing seasons to provide full screening.
  • Seasonal changes – Plants lose leaves or blooms at certain times of year.
  • Vulnerable to diseases and pests – Monitor for signs of infections or infestations.
  • Can damage certain fences – Weight and growth may strain wood and wire fences over time.
  • Requires water and fertilizer – Will need irrigation and nutrients to thrive.

How Do Reeds or Bamboo Offer Privacy Above a Fence?

For a natural, rustic feel, reeds and bamboo are great options to place atop fences, especially shorter styles. Considerations include:


  • Inexpensive – Dried reeds and bamboo poles are affordable and plentiful.
  • Easy installation – Simply tie or weave reeds through fence openings or zip tie bamboo poles at the top.
  • Quick project – Full installation can be completed in an afternoon.
  • Provides filtered views – Offers visual obscurity without fully blocking lines of sight.
  • Good for Security – Noise generated by rustling reeds can alert you to trespassers.


  • Needs frequent replacement – Natural materials deteriorate rapidly outside.
  • Can appear unkempt – Without diligent grooming, reeds and bamboo may seem messy.
  • Not pet or child friendly – Dry reeds and bamboo can be scratchy and contain sharp points.
  • Fire risk – Extremely flammable, avoid placing near open flames or barbeques.
  • May bend or sag over time – Wind and weather can cause drooping.

Which Solution is Best for My Needs?

When assessing the best supplemental privacy solution for your fence, consider factors like:

  • How much additional privacy do you need? Slat add-ons provide the most occlusion.
  • What is your budget? Inexpensive lattice and reeds offer affordability.
  • How important is durability and longevity? Slats often last longer than other options.
  • Do you want to obscure or filter views? Lattice and plants allow some visibility.
  • Is your fence strong enough to support additions? Lightweight lattice has less impact.
  • Do you want to avoid ongoing maintenance? Reeds and plants require the most upkeep.
  • Is your yard child and pet friendly? Avoid scratchy reeds or bamboo.

Also assess the height, material, and construction of your existing fence when deciding on the best retrofit privacy solution. A qualified fencing contractor can help evaluate your needs and recommend appropriate options.

Installation Tips

Follow these key steps for properly installing any supplemental privacy materials atop your fence:

  • Measure between posts and cut materials to fit snugly from post to post.
  • Use galvanized screws, bolts or zip ties to attach additions to fence top rails or posts.
  • Pre-drill holes in wooden add-ons to prevent splitting when secured.
  • Space vertical installations no more than 1 inch apart for optimal privacy.
  • For reeds or plants, tightly weave through openings in crisscross layers for density.
  • Seal additions with exterior wood sealant or paint for longevity.
  • Periodically check installations for needed repairs, reinforcements or replacements.

Taking the proper measurements and using suitable outdoor fastening systems will keep supplemental privacy additions in place for years to come.

Cost Comparison

Here is a general cost comparison of common fence top privacy solutions:

Privacy Solution Cost Per Linear Foot*
Lattice $3 – $8
Wood Slats $4 – $12
PVC Slats $9 – $18
Bamboo Poles $2 – $6
Reeds $1 – $4
Vine Plants $3 – $15

*based on standard 72″ high privacy fence

As you can see, reeds and bamboo offer the most budget-friendly options for adding fence top privacy while still allowing some visibility. PVC slats are on the pricier end but require minimal maintenance. Lattice, plants and wood slats fall somewhere in the middle, depending on which materials and species you select.

Maintenance Tips

Here are some recommendations for properly maintaining supplemental fence privacy solutions:

  • Inspect for damage after major storms and replace broken sections immediately.
  • Re-stain or seal wood additions annually to prevent rotting and deterioration.
  • Trim back vine plants as needed to keep growth contained and to allow flowering.
  • Remove debris and dirt buildup to prevent plants and wood from staying damp.
  • Refresh fading paint or bleached PVC slats to keep them looking new.
  • Patch small gaps or holes in lattice and slats to prevent peeking.
  • Plan to replace natural reeds every 1-2 years as they dry out and sag.
  • Monitor climbing vines closely for pests like aphids or diseases.

Routine inspection and care will help optimize the longevity of your fence privacy investment. Consider requesting contractor maintenance quotes when you first have solutions installed.


Adding supplemental privacy solutions above your existing fence line is an easy and affordable option for increasing seclusion without undergoing a major reconstruction project. Lattice, slats, plants, reeds and bamboo can all enhance your fence while allowing varying visibility levels. Assess your privacy needs, budget, yard conditions and fence construction to select the best option. With proper installation and ongoing care, you can easily enhance fence privacy and enjoyment for years to come. Let us know if you have any other questions!