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From the Forum – “currently we have a six foot fence that’s proved too easy for scoundrels to leap”

by Prince Of Petworth August 11, 2015 at 2:10 pm 18 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user nevermindtheend

Recommendations for Fencing/Gate Builders

“We’re looking to improve security at the alley entrance behind our property in Columbia Heights – currently we have a six foot fence that’s proved too easy for scoundrels to leap – does anyone have recommendations for fencers/builders that can help us be more secure w/o making the property look like a prison?”

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  • textdoc

    OP, what’s your current situation with lighting in the vicinity of the fence?

  • sunnytime

    This is timely because I just had bikes stolen from my backyard in broad daylight yesterday – 6-foot fence and the bikes were locked under the deck. My first step, per the police officer’s recommendation, is going to be installing a security camera. The officer had a great story about the kind that’s activated by motion sensor: it was set up so the owner automatically got the video feed if the camera detected any motion, so he saw that he was being robbed, called the cops, and the cops got there fast enough to arrest the perp. I guess the camera has to be prominent/visible in order to actually deter the scoundrels though, rather than just being useful in case of a crime. I’ll be interested to hear other suggestions! (In my case, textdoc, there’s a bright streetlight close by. But the perps are brazen enough to hop the fence in the middle of the day!)

    • All Y’all

      How can you be sure it was scoundrels? Sounds more like ruffians or ne’er-do-wells to me.

      • textdoc

        Reprobates, no doubt. Or maybe miscreants.


    FYI: from the description it sounds like the fence would need to conform to the DC reg of no taller than 7 feet:

    3112.3.2 Fences abutting alleys. Fences abutting alleys shall not exceed 7 feet (2134 mm) in height in Residence or Waterfront Districts, nor 10 feet (3048 mm) in Mixed Use, Special Purpose, Commercial, or Industrial Districts.

    • Marty

      don’t new fences also have to have a 12′ setback from the alley centerline?

  • JT

    Assuming you are interested in a wood fence, the side of the fence with the horizontal wood planks should be on the inside, which will make the fence slightly harder to scale from the alley. Also, you may consider putting some tall shrubs with thorns next to the fence, so that a person who does come over will get an unpleasant surprise and have difficulty removing anything.

    • JoDa

      I was going to say blackberry bushes. Delicious AND painful! (make sure you get the kind with thorns…I’ve seen some without at garden centers)

  • Truxton Thomas

    Land mines?

  • ke

    I think that lights and a camera are good ideas, although we’ve seen footage here in PoPville of scoundrels hopping a fence to get into someone’s yard. You could also post signs that the Area is Monitored by Video Surveillance and a Beware of Dog sign, even if it is BS. The goal is to make your backyard less appealing to the bad guys.

  • petworther

    I’m pretty sure 6′ is the maximum height fence allowed by code. You code try barbed wire on the top but I’m guessing there would be some liability. Also lights and a camera would help.
    The real solution is to get the police to actually arrest people who commit crimes. We shouldn’t be force to turn our homes into fortresses.

  • Angry Parakeet

    Mine’s 7 feet and I’ve had people climb in at least 5 times, theft 4 times. The yard next door has chainlink so they enter my yard at that corner diagonally. The infant care center gate associated with International House of Prayer close to V and 11th has concertine coiled razor wire but I don’t think that’s legal.

    • anon

      Maybe time to build a 7-foot fence that abuts your neighbor’s (inadequate) chain-link fence?

  • anonymous

    Maybe because i never lived in a suburb, but from years of living in Chicago, New York, and Boston before DC, it would never occur to me to keep my bike outside, anywhere. Always in the apartment for me! You don’t leave anything outside your place, even locked up, if you would mind missing it … because it WILL be gone.

    • BK Petworth Citizen

      +1000. Go out and buy a small shed, people! If you’re a homeowner with a backyard and have bikes, it’s worth it. You can get a cheap plastic one from Home Depot for a few hundred bucks (we bought a small one just for this purpose and store 3 bikes and sports equipment, lawn mower, garden tools, cornhole boards, and patio cushions in there)

  • baz

    get a dog.
    its the ONLY thing that will work.
    and it will work. works great.

    • Eponymous

      I have a large dog. I sit on the front porch with him and let him hang out in the yard when I’m home. No one messes with my yard, and I have a 4′ fence.

  • Qzie

    Can you plant a green barrier there?

    If so, one word: Pyracantha.

    No one will ever ever breech your fence if you plant it without serious second thoughts and injury. I have a hedge of it here in D.C. and it is absolutely formidable. And beautiful. It is a thorny evergreen large shrub that can grow as tall as 20′ high. In the spring it has white flowers, and in the fall orange berries which the birds love. And it is one nasty plant–the thorns are sort of awful to deal with. You can prune it back to huge the rear fence and shape it above the fence with a hedge trimmer. No one will ever go over that fence again.


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