Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Good fences make for poorer neighbors

The first thing people say when they see our backyard is usually "Wow, it's huge!" I would so rather they say "Wow, it's simply gorgeous!" or "Who did this fabulous landscaping?" or even "Lovely, simply lovely." 

While it may never hit gorgeous or simply lovely, we are working on it. The huge part we can't really do anything about, it is what it is. A big yard. A big yard that was initially owned by a man whose landscaping plan was to plant a series of trees and bushes all up against the fence, like a police lineup for oleanders. 

Besides the largeness factor of the yard, there is the odd shape that continues to puzzle us. From the front, our house looks like all the others, but out back it's like the survey people just threw up their hands one day and said, "You know what, let's just leave this one house with the funky yard as-is and call it done." That's how we ended up sharing our property line with five different neighbors. That's a lot of fence drama.

The original fences in the neighborhood were a bit short, but quite charming and amazingly long-lived. They look like this, what's left of them. If you're aiming to put in a fence that with some TLC can last over 60 years, here's your design.

A sample of the original fence.
It looks to be a popular place for birds to hang out.
Our neighbor we know the most, enough to go over and shoot the breeze with on his front porch, the one who loves our dog and looks out for our well-being like a member of the family - I'll refer to him as Neighbor S. He's the perfect neighbor, keeps his house nice, knows everyone, the kind of guy the UPS driver slows down to chat about football with. Neighbor S should be cloned and sprinkled throughout the world.

He told me the other day the reason why the fence between our property has the "bad neighbor side" facing us the whole length. The original owner of our house was a bit of a cheapskate and didn't want to pitch in when that part of the fence was falling down. Maybe he thought all the trees and bushes planted up against it would prop it up, when in fact it was probably all the trees and bushed planted so close to it that was its downfall. So Neighbor S footed the bill for the whole fence and made sure he got the pretty side facing him, the "good neighbor side."

Our fence with Neighbor S.
Nice. Sturdy. No drama.
In the way back of our yard, where there used to be a big pile of brush the size of a beaver dam, is the tiny bit of fence we share with Neighbor R. We don't know him too well, and we're just vaguely aware we shared a fence with him. We recently cleared out the beaver dam, and we hope to make this "The Melon Patch'" Doesn't that sound so cute?

Patiently waiting to become a much cuter area.
Neighbor D is an amazing gardener. He has a potting shed that is cuter than our house, and he grows lots of food in his garden, which I heard is the whole point. Neighbor D loves the old original fence, and since he doesn't have a dog, this hasn't been a problem. The old fence can stay, and it gives me some places to peek into his vegetable garden when I'm feeling the need for a bit of horticulture envy.

Potting sheds should not make my house look bad.
That is just not very neighborly.
The neighbor we share the longest stretch of fence with will have to be referred to as "Neighbor ?" because we have never met her. We have never even seen her. It's a mystery. But she doesn't have dogs and that's a good thing. Because that fence is a hot mess.

"Do not adjust your screen, the fence is leaning, not the dog."

And last, but unfortunately standing upright the least, we have the fence on the very back part of our yard. It's original, but has not benefited from the loving care of an owner like Neighbor D. It has peek-a-boo holes the size of small dogs, such as a chihuahua. The house was empty for a time and we hoped and hoped the new owners would not have dogs.

But they do. Molly doesn't get along one little bit with New Neighbor M's dog Tucker, and they haven't even dared let their chihuahua out. It became evident very quickly we would have to get a new fence, and while we're at it we might as well get that part by the Future Home of the Cute Melon Patch all dolled up too. With lots of talk between the guys, we agreed to have the fences replaced, everyone paying their fair share. It's the neighborly thing to do.

"Can we please stop talking about fences? I'm all Tuckered out."