Oh give me the land, lots of land
Under starry skies above
Don’t fence me in. – Robert Fletcher and Cole Porter
As you know, when you own a single-family home, you are apt to share a fence on as many as three sides. We do. We, along with our neighbors to the south, put up a new south fence a few years ago. The fence dividing our yard from the neighbors to the east is still in pretty good shape. Well, it might not be in such good shape, but at least we can’t really see it because it’s blocked by trees and bushes. What you don’t know won’t hurt you.
But the fence dividing our yard from our neighbor to the north was, in the manner of London Bridge, falling down.
So he contacted our neighbor and asked if she was interested in sharing the expense of a new fence. She was.
But as I have mentioned before, Bill likes projects. So there was no way that I was going to convince him that we should just turn this whole “new fence thing” over to a company that builds fences. So before I could say Bob the Builder, he was out there tearing down the old dilapidated fence.
Within a few days, he had torn down the entire fence and removed any posts that were crumbling. He reluctantly agreed to let a fencing company do the rest.
That was just a stone’s throw from a year-and-a-half ago, and we still have no fence. And, what’s more, that’s ok with us. Our neighbor and we mutually agreed that we would take our time about rebuilding the fence.
The thing is, we find we like the openness. She keeps her yard nice; we keep our yard nice. It’s like a big and beautiful park.
But what I like even better is that we can see each other from our back porches. She will wave to me when she’s mowing her yard. She will come by if she sees us out on our back porch in the evening. I can pull my garden hose over to her yard to water her plants when she’s out of town.
In fact, last week, Bill finally cleared a designated path between our yards so that we can
easily go back and forth. We had been sort of stepping over miscellaneous garden paraphernalia. Since the fence was removed, we have become quite friendly.
When we came back to Denver this spring from Arizona, we asked our neighbor if she was still okay with not having a fence.
“Oh my yes,” was her immediate reply. “I love hearing your grandkids play in your yard. It makes me happy.”
It reminded me of growing up in Columbus when my mom and our neighbor would get together for coffee klatshes. Back in those days there were no big, wooden fences blocking the view to your neighbors. There might be a hedge, but you could wave to your neighbors over the hedge. And you could walk through the hedge to have a cup of coffee.
Before Bill and I married, Court and I lived in a little house in an older urban neighborhood. There was a fence, but it was a chain link fence. I knew my neighbors. We shared a clothes line. We could (and would) talk over the fence.
The neighborhood in which we now live is much different. Big wooden privacy fences do their privacy job well, but keep us from knowing our neighbors. I literally drive my car into the garage, close the door, and never see the neighbors unless I happen to be unloading some groceries and someone walks by.
So for the time being, we are bucking the trend (and likely breaking a homeowners’ association covenant) and enjoying sharing life – at least to a certain extent – with our neighbor. We all know that at some point we will have to put up a fence, but in the meantime, it’s nice to be able to say “Howdy Neighbor!”
What’s your situation? Fence or no fence? Which would you prefer?