Don’t Fence Me In

Oh, the joys of home ownership! Our house is ten years old now and as you know, we had renters living in it for the past 2 1/2 years. Things need repairing and maintaining around here. The most recent thing to make it to the top of our “To Do” list is our fence, in particular, the gates. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the hinges are all bent out of shape and the wood is warped.

South Side Gate

I finally had a fence company out here to give us an estimate for repairs. In hindsight, perhaps that was the wrong call to make. Of course the fence guy would suggest replacing the entire fence because, “I don’t know who did this job, but here’s the way we do it.” Guess I should have called a handyman if I really wanted repairs done. Anywho, the replacement of the gates and two runs of fence comes to $3,600! I don’t disagree that our fence is in poor condition and perhaps poorly constructed in the first place, but darn it, 3,600 flippin’ bucks! That isn’t in my budget, mister. I already scrapped plans of replacing our carpet and floors in the house (we paid off Jeromy’s motorcycle instead). Y’all know we need a new kitchen and that isn’t gonna happen for a few years. I really, really don’t want to spend thousand of dollars on a fence, for crying out loud. It really chaps my behind, burns my, um, britches when someone tells me I should spend big bucks on something I don’t even want. Yup, I’m from the Midwest and my parents are 82 years old. I come up with some vintage statements from time to time.

You see, I think I have a genetic disorder, some disease that makes gates and fences absolutely confound me. You should ask my friends in Germany. Germans seem a bit obsessed with security. Gates to private homes and apartment buildings are often electronically secured. You have to ring the bell at the gate to get buzzed onto the property and then if it is an apartment building, you have to ring the bell at the door of the building to get buzzed in again. I’ve been trapped outside the first gate and also in the no man’s land in between the gate and front door a few times and had to use my cell phone to ask my friends to come rescue me. I just have a problem with gates.

Going back even further, in my early childhood I was known to be quite an escape artist even though I seem to have a problem with gates. Insert nonexistant grainy video from the 70’s here. As a toddler I’d bust out of my parent’s house and head down the street to a neighbor’s house to beg for candy. When I was a bit older, during swim lessons I’d ask the instructor if I could use the restroom. I’d hide out in the locker room and when the coast was clear, I’d make a break for it. I’d be out the door of the building and half way home before my mom realized I wasn’t in the pool. I don’t like to be confined. I like to see as far as the I can see and go there too. Don’t fence me in!

So, I’ve got this idea in my head that we don’t even need a fence. Our son is eight years old, we don’t need to keep him trapped in the backyard. We don’t have any pets that need to be secured. Sure, there are some privacy issues and what to do about the neighbors. The sticky widget in all of this is our fence also contains the yards of two of our neighbors. Should we tear it down, replace it, or let it fall into complete disrepair, it would affect them.

Fence Diagram

Here’s my not so hairbrained (I think) idea. It’s a good one, one that will make hubby look at me with his head cocked to one side. I know he’ll wonder, “who is this woman and what did she do with my wife?”

I suggest we immediately remove the gates, just take them off their hinges. They are a complete nuisance and aggravate us anytime we dare to use them. Maybe we could advertise them on Craigslist. Anyone want scrap wood? It’s free if you come and get it! I’ll finally get revenge on some gates.


Next, I’d plant some fast growing bushes or trees to make a nice privacy hedge along the back of our property. We could also dress up the area near the gates on the side of the house in this manner. Since the fence along the north side of the property is actually in pretty good shape and it is “shared” with our neighbor, I’d maintain it as best we can, actually throw some weather sealent on that puppy. The fence on the south side of our property belongs to our other neighbor. Not my problemo. About 75% of the back stretch of fence that is our fence is shared by our neighbor to the rear. This is the worst stretch of fence and crap, I’m not sure what to do.

Rear Fence Section

Maybe tear it down eventually and split the expense for a new one with the neighbor? Crazy, I know! It looks like while we were away they spent big bucks on a new fence, but didn’t have to do one side, thanks to our fence. They’ve got little kids and dogs, major sticky widget. I need to investigate proper fence etiquette and home owner’s association rules.

Rear Fence

Oh, fences! How I despise thee so! I’ve actually visited some homes in neighborhoods where the backyards aren’t all fenced in. It’s nice. You can see farther, making the yard seem bigger. Little critters have free range, so it’s better for the environment. Families can hang out in the back and wave to their neighbors. Nice, huh? Let’s tear down some fences people! Who’s ready to join me in the Great Fence Revolt of 2012? Nah, I didn’t think you would. There is always that jerkhead neighbor who ruins it. I think my brother might be one of those. He has a low chain link fence in his backyard. Apparently he likes to sneak out in the nude at 5:30 in the a.m. for a dip in the hot tub. I bet his neighbors wish his fence was 6 feet high made of solid wood!

Who knows how this fence thing will play out. No need to decide today. Sometimes options become clearer after some time has passed. Anyone else have fence issues? Crazy neighbors or really awesome neighbors? More importantly, anyone have some creative solutions for our problem?

This entry was posted in Home Improvement & Maintenance, Outside and tagged , , by Jennifer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jennifer

I'm an interior designer at my core and a big fan of simple pleasures and Mother Nature. Originally from Iowa, I've lived up and down the East Coast, plus Alaska and Germany (thanks to my husband, who must have nomadic blood in his veins). Currently I'm a Yankee in South Carolina, trying to keep up with my son and constantly adjusting to life in the South.

5 thoughts on “Don’t Fence Me In

  1. Surprisingly, I could probably write a post on your post about fences. We had one built in our first home and that WAS expensive. We really could use an update to the one we currently have also, but that will have to wait. In the neighborhood we currently live in we have “alleys” where your garage is accessed via a street that is only there for this purpose. Then the front of your house faces the actual street. I wasn’t familiar with these coming from S.C. I’ve never seen them before, but I don’t really like it. It basically means half of your backyard is taken up by your drive way. It’s suppose to be great because on trash day all your trash cans are in the alley in the back and ugly gas meters are out there too, but really I think it was the developers way of cramming as many houses in the community as possible. So anyway we all have these little fenced in postage stamp sized yards and the fences themselves are just not pretty to look at!! So fences aren’t my favorite either!
    I like your out of the box solution of just taking the gates down. Sometimes the best solution is a forward thinking creative one! Keep thinking on it. I know you’ll come up with a great plan.

    • There is a section of our development that is like yours. I think it looks nice from the front of the house, but it sure doesn’t leave you with much of a yard. Some older areas of my hometown are like that too. I need to do some research about fences. I wonder what the lifespan is even suppose to be. Ours is rough after 10 years. If we replace it now and live here another 10 years, would we have to replace it again when we sell it? Anyway, time will tell. In the meantime, I’ve become fence obsessed. It’s all a notice as I take my daily walk around the neighborhood. Neighbors will think I’m weird since I walk down the street with my head turned to one side.

  2. Jen, I like the idea of taking it down and embracing your surroundings. Try removing the gates first and see how you like the view/advantages/disadvantages of just that area with no gate/fence. Then, if you like it, let the neighbors to each side and back of you know that in 30 days, you plan to remove the fence since it is an eyesore/danger since the boards are broken and that you all have decided that with an 8 year old and no pets, you don’t need it and most importantly, due to a job change and expenses associated with that, you simply cannot afford to replace or repair it. I think with proper notification and the expense reason, they would either be fine with no fence there or build one to complete their needed sections. Under no circumstances would I spend even a thousand dollars, much less $3,600, for a fence I didn’t even want or need!! BTW – I miss you!!

  3. Pingback: A Dog Gone Fence | rememberwren

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