Do good fences make good neighbors?

Backyard Fence, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I just spotted this new privacy fence that has sprouted in the last week or so. I have to admit I have often thought about getting a privacy fence myself given that the alleys are usually less than pleasant to look at. But I have hesitated in getting one because I am poor. But that is really not the point. So tell me does getting a privacy fence send the wrong signal to your neighbors? Does it close you off? Given the state of the alleys in DC I’d say that I am leaning in favor of them.

12 Comment

  • When we bought our house it had a privacy fence in the backyard, one of only a couple on the block. I have to say I really enjoy having it. It allows us to have a little privacy out in the sun when we wish, and when it’s raining or I’m feeling more sociable I sit on the front porch and greet and wave to my neighbors and passersby.

  • dont think there’s anything wrong with the privacy fence….it’s ok to want a little privacy in your own backyard.

  • You know you just jealous.

  • Hey look, it’s my fence!

    A few comments/thoughts…

    1. A small part of the reason for putting up the fence was safety. Much more than that, we needed to replace the ricketty chain link job for the sake of our dogs — so they can run around w/o me worrying about them getting out through any of the many holes we had.

    We chose to go the wooden route because I think they just look nicer and keep the little guys from barking at everything that goes up and down the alley.

    2. We had cooperation from our neighbors on the fence. I really hope they don’t see this as us creating figurative barriers, because that’s absolutely not our intention.

    3. As for the end result, once we get the interior of the backyard fixed up with plants and such, I think it will look really good.

  • Hey Markus,
    It looks good. When you get it fixed up with plants let me know and I can take an updated photo if you’d like.

  • You’re poor?!

  • anonymous, it is all relative my friend. I’m rich enough to live in Petworth but poor enough so that I am unable to get a brand new privacy fence…

  • When my husband & I moved into our rowhouse in Brightwood Park, there was the same type of fence along the yard next to the sidewalk. We removed every other piece of vertical wood and nailed them back on the inside. Makes it “see through-able” but maintains some sense of privacy.

  • Re: Poor.

    Nonsense. It is not your lack of resources that prevent you from building a fence, it’s how you prioritize those resources. In other words, “poor” has nothing to do with it. You didn’t use the comparative “poorer than…” or even “too poor to…” You simply wrote, “I am poor.”

    (My sense is you invoked the third use, but hardly qualify.)

  • Good God. I was just kidding. I am aware that I am not poor. Thank you for clearing that up.

  • Actually, research (don’t have a link) has shown that neighborhoods that have privacy fences have more open and developed relationships with thier neighbors than subdivisions that outlaw such practices. The conclusion of the researchers was that the privacy fence provided a sense of domain over your property that you could communicate to the outside world over your fence and not feel threatened. Whereas, the subdivisions w/o fences the nearest boarder was inside your home and thus, less likely to start a conversation without the fence protecting your yard.

    In essence, the old cliche that fences makes good neighbors is correct.

  • Hmm, interesting research note. Having used to live just south of Petworth with a fence, and now in a subdivision without fences and wondering what else that research used as variables.

    I felt like my old rowhouse neighborhood was nice and friendly because of the porches. I always talked with neighbors sitting on their porches and vice versa.

    Unfortunately now my porch is not necessarily as close to others as before, and additionally I have a garage that I can immediately enter my house without having to go outside. I think that probably doesn’t help with communication more than whether I have a fence or not. Fortunately I’m in a cul-de-sac and most of my neighbors greet each other if we see each other outside.

    In general, though I think more than the fence or lack thereof, its the people that live inside them that determine the level of interaction.

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