“Everyone pushes a falling fence” is a Chinese proverb. Although probably not originally tailored to fit with today’s modern society in western culture this proverb still holds true to some degree.
It’s spring and it is almost summer. Some of us have been planting our flowers, tending to the landscaping, maybe a fresh coat of paint on the house or simply garage-saleing those things we no longer want. But, have we looked at our fence this year? Or, in the absence of a pre-existing physical property boundary, have we possibly considered the benefits to a new fence? Fencing may not be the first thing on our mind when it comes to spring or summer projects but it is probably one of the first things noticed by those that drive or walk by our house.
Fencing says a lot about who we are and how we live, believe it or not. So, back to our quote: “everyone pushes a falling fence”. To apply this to our modern day living, a fence that looks dated or in disrepair is paid for, not only with our own property value, but through our neighbor’s property values as well. And we all know how much more pleasant our day-to-day existence can be with friendly and happy neighbors. Remember that last time you needed to borrow an edger to finish up some landscaping? Good luck with a neighbor that hates that fence you refuse to replace.
”Love your neighbor as yourself; but don’t take down the fence.”
Speaking of neighbors, brings me to another quote by Carl Sandburg: ”Love your neighbor as yourself; but don’t take down the fence”. Fences serve a purpose outside esthetics; they keep children out (or in), they deter house burglary due to another barrier to a thief, they keep our doggies safe inside our yard and other dogs out, keep wildlife out (to a degree) to protect our gardens, and they give property lines a clear demarcation (since the neighbors now may not always be the same neighbors later). Remember another important quote, “good fences make good neighbors”.
Fencing wins where underground pet fencing fails. That underground fence you just installed to keep little Scooby Doo inside the yard may, in fact, keep little Scooby in the yard. But is it going to keep other neighborhood dogs or cats out of your yard? The answer is obviously a resounding “no”.
The fence that makes good neighbors needs a gate to make good friends.
Now, what type of fence to get. If you are replacing your old fence or just installing a new one, the type of fence you get should compliment your house and not take away from it. And, good or bad, there is a great selection of styles, sizes and materials. You may want that wrought iron picket but your house’s style may not agree. If your house is Victorian then look for a complimentary fence that says “Victorian” – maybe something small and white, preferably wood. See if you can borrow a sample or just drive around your neighborhood and see what looks great. Where I grew up lot sizes varied from 1/2 acre to 1 acre and for backyards a 6′ stockade was most appropriate in the backyards with no fence in the front. Later living in a brownstone in Jersey City where most houses were touching and narrow, a wrought iron picket was more appropriate. As another example, houses closer to the beach vary in fence styles from wood, ranch style to white laminate.
A couple of things to remember about fencing. If you do purchase a stockade style fence whereby there is a good, smooth side and an alternate side with horizontal slats, it is most appropriate if you keep the good, smooth side facing the neighbors. Not only will this keep your neighbors happy it will make it more difficult for theives that want to climb your fence for access to your yard. Laminate fencing can be sprayed clean and it outlasts wood. Fencing can be self-installed but remember to get the right tools and plan ahead because a fence out of line is not fun to fix - sometimes a fencing company may be easier. Check with local codes if you are unsure about the legality of fencing – some jurisdictions have codes on height, appearance and other important considerations.
Guest blogger- John J. Connors