Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Invisible Fence


They can be picket, stockade, basket weave, ranch, lattice or tongue and groove. They can be made from brick, wood, concrete or stone. They can be living. If you chose green Arborvitae as your screening, it becomes your hedge. But whatever you plump for, one thing's a dead cert: fences have style, form and function.

They keep your bl**dy neighbours out!

To fence or not to fence, seems to be the most personal of homeowning choices in my locale. If you live downtown (i.e in one of the super-charming but super-expensive Desperate Housewives style homes near the 'high street') you will have a fenced in yard. (Garden). If you live in one of our sub-divison neighbourhoods (i.e. a posh estate) you tend to only have a fenced in yard if you have a swimming pool. You don't want your neighbours stumbling onto your property and drowning after all. No-one can afford that lawsuit.

Or, like us, you live in a sub-division where some people fence parts of their back yards, with the more subtle Arborvitaes (Leylandii) hedging (!) their bets as to whether their privacy is restored and it'll stop next doors bl**dy kids from running through their yard, on their way to catching the schoolbus.

Believe me, it doesn't.

I think we even have a sub-division law about fences. But I've lost that paperwork. Oh dear.

What a load of tosh.

And now I'm getting really steamed up, because I am in the midst of a fence-craving. I am going to say it out loud, shout it from my rooftop. (Okay, from my laptop then.) "I miss my English fences!"


Because, one of the joys of my street has also become a curse.

I live with kids similar age to my boys, either side of my house and across the street. This is, most, of the time a real joy. The neighbourhood is safe and they all run from one house to another playing in the back yards and generally having a great time. I like the fact Cheeky and Monkey have friends on our street. I like my neighbours. It's just some of their kids that annoy me. And their lack of fences.

Because we're all open plan, the little boy on one side of us, can just wander into our yard, whenever he hears my boys' voices. Even if he doesn't hear them actually, as soon as I unlock my back door, most mornings, I can hear him calling their names in a desperate bid for playtime.

We never come downstairs all washed and dressed, so I have to usher my kids away from the kitchen, so they don't hear him calling, and I don't get caught in my skanky undies. When all I really want to do is have my morning cuppa outside and let the kids run in the fresh air.

This charade is really starting to pee me off.

Take last weekend. No major plans. Nice family time at home enjoying the sunshine. I'm pouring the milk on my Weetabix, standing in my bra and pants, when the little boy next door, waltzes into my kitchen and says he's going to play in the basement with my kids. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Er, morning.

The weekend continued with me constantly either watching him or dragging my kids back from his house, when all I wanted, was for the four of us to spend some quality alone time on our own property. Turns out, we had to leave the house to have alone time.

This wouldn't have happened if we had a fence.

Then there's the little girl on the other side of us. Let me just call her The Terror. Ok, TT for short. Sounds nicer. She is only 6 after all.

She and my eldest really like each other. (Personally, I wish he could've picked more of a looker to be infatuated with, but there, I am that shallow.) Needless to say, they play really nicely together. She's even more bossy and ballsy than him.

But again, I can be happily pushing the boys on our swingset, enjoying quality Mom/Mum-Sons time, and suddenly, there she is, swishing down our slide and tempting the boys away with promises of a ride in her Barbie Jeep.

Or, we'll be enjoying our tea al fresco on the patio and I can see her hovering, right on our boarder, waiting for the boys last mouthful to go in, so she can leer them away for a game of tag or a princess tea-party.

It's got me so riled, that the other week, I took action. I went straight to the garden centre at Home Depot (B&Q) and spent too much on 25 Arborvitae and promplty got Him Downstairs to plant us a hedge to keep TT out.

It worked. Except now she just hovers behind the trees, waiting to pounce. In three years, when the trees will have grown, we won't be able to see her. I am watering them like mad.

Wish we could do the same on the other side of the house, but it's not so condusive to do a hedge there.

Not that most people take notice of our new hedge anyhow. TT's grandfather, who own the house next door, just pushes his way through the leaves to get round and into his bit of our front yard, and the other day, a guy turned up at his house to do some yard work. As he walked across my yard, I asked him if I could help him. He said he was here to see my neighbour. Because I hadn't had enough caffeine yet, I said, " But you're in my yard! You need to go round to his house."

He looked at me as if I was mental. (Maybe I am.) Hopped over one of my baby trees, and announced, " Well, now I'm not in your yard!"

I was dumbfounded.

This whole lack of fences round here, sent one of my expat Brit friends so crazy, she upped and moved. To one of the posh downtown fenced-in houses. I sometimes wish I had her budget to escape.

Maybe I'm just being a cranky ole thing, and I should embrace this quirky, free-land for all suburban US-style of living but, for fences sake, whatever happened to knocking on a front door and asking if you can play?


  1. I found that a 10 feet tall fence with barbed wire and a sniper in a sentry tower did the trick.

    Truly, I feel for you, I crave my own space, nothing like that first cuppa in peace in the morning is there ? x

  2. I had to chuckle reading this post because we now have a house here in the UK with hedges higher than our ground floor - ALL the way around our house (exception of the driveway). It made me batty that I could not see out when sitting in my living room - I want to see people walking around on the street and where are my neighbors??? However, after being here a while, I can appreciate the hedges and the privacy they provide so I can understand that the US has NO privacy what-so-ever!!! Sounds like the fence has done the trick for you though!

  3. I bet of all the things you thought you'd miss from England, fences wouldn't be that high on the list!
    I'm laughing, but boy do I get where you're coming from

  4. How funny, we've also been commenting here on the lack of fences - people seem quite happy being cheek by jowl next to their neighbours, with only a little shrub between (or in our case, a steep bank covered in possible poison ivy - not great when boys' balls roll down the hill). Which is nice in some ways, but I hear where you are coming from.

    Last night we were watching some crappy house hunting programme on TV (mainly for amusement, I hasten to add) and there was a woman in South Carolina who was desperate for a house with what she called a 'privacy fence'. We were shouting at the TV - 'why don't you just call it a fence for pete's sake? It's a blxxdy fence.'

  5. LOL! I could have written that post! Maybe I'll write about our fence issues sometime . . .

  6. It would drive me crazy too. As we are in Victorian terrace and have gates joining all gardens our next door neighbour girl feels she can open her gate (it only opens from her side) whenever she feels like it. ANNOYING.
    It's great the boys having friends they can play with, but you do need time to just hang out in your jammies without feeling like you are being watched - girl next door could also climb up her cherry tree and see straight into our kitchen. So, if I was still in jammies at 10am I would feel ashamed! ANNOYING. Luckily the tree has been cut down now. Keep saving the pennies to move to the posh houses. Oh no, but you have just had your kitchen done. It won't matter when they are all back at school so much.
    BUT, I can see how the boys could be lured away by a Barbie Jeep, it is kinda tempting...

  7. Because I live in the city, I have three walls (walls, I tell you) to my back garden and a garage at the other end. Pity it's probably a quarter the size of yours.
    My in-laws however, used to have the no-fence syndrome and you could walk the whole length of their street through the back gardens. How the hell do you know which bits to maintain. What I found funny was that, desperate for a bit of privacy, everyone would lattice-fence a teeny bit around their back door and never use the huge expanses of garden that they owned.
    Loved this post. Big pet peeve of mine for years.

  8. Yes, that's the reason we English love our fences - privacy! Although it does get a bit bizarre when I'm talking to my lovely neighbours with a six foot fence between us!

  9. Pros and cons my friends, pros and cons. (She writes after she has drenched her new hedge in miracle gro plant feeder!)

  10. should see our fences and hedges (even sheds). Whole kit and caboodle. It's all getting overgrown with the rain too. (Next door is building a conservatory and knocking down the hedge and putting up a wall instead...with our permission...but I'm still not happy.)