If that eyesore of an AC compressor or compost bin or neighbor spoils the view from your deck or patio, the solution may be as simple as setting up a wood privacy screen like the one here. These screens typically come in three- and four-panel configurations that stand on their own when partially folded, assuming there's not too much wind. In turf, you can anchor them with edging spikes driven through attached angle brackets, but whenever the forecast calls for blustery conditions, it's best to fold them up and stow them away until the wind settles down.
Whether you build a screen like the eucalyptus one shown or buy it ready-made, rot-resistant wood and rustproof fasteners are must-have materials. Then you only need to give the screen regular applications of a penetrating oil-based deck or fence finish to keep it looking its best. That's not much to ask in return for what is sure to be many years of solid, view-enhancing service.
Shown: A folding lattice screen made of eucalyptus softens the rough stone wall looming over this patio.
Privacy Screen Overview
Use factory-made lattice panels to simplify construction.
Assemble the frames
Cut the ½-inch-thick rails and stiles to length for the frames according to the cut list. The curved top and bottom rails are made from one ½x6 piece, using a flexible wood strip to mark the curve and a jigsaw to make the cut. Dry-fit the parts on a flat surface, with the best-looking side of the board facedown, then fasten the parts using glue and clamps, and structural screws driven through the stiles and into the ends of the rails.
Rout the frame
Chuck a ½-inch rabbeting bit with a ball-bearing guide into a router and set the bit depth to the thickness of two lattice strips combined. Rabbet the inside edges of the frame's stiles only. Next, reset the bit to the depth of one strip and rout the inside edges of the three rails.
Attach the lattice
Cut the lattice panel in half lengthwise and cut off sections to fit the rabbeted openings. Drop one large and one small panel into the rabbets of the appropriate frame openings, with the strips that run parallel to the rails facing down. Glue and staple the lattice strips to the rabbets. Repeat Steps 2 through 4 to make the two remaining panels.
Connect the Panels
Using a 3⁄16-inch bit, drill three 1½-inch-deep holes evenly spaced along the outside edge of one panel's stile. Screw an eyebolt into each hole. Do the same with the stile of the adjoining panel, but locate the holes ¼ inch lower than those in the first stile, to overlap the bolts. Repeat for the adjoining stiles. Place a plastic washer between each pair of overlapping eyebolts, and join them with connector nuts and bolts.