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Seeking fencing ideas for a small lot in the city with a problem neighbor  RSS feed

 
Justice Kelly
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Just closed on a city lot & house here in SW WI, lot size 100x118...  The neighbor to the south has already identified themselves as hostile, unkempt and their dogs are significant problems to gardens, livestock, etc.  Not to mention privacy issues (and we haven't even moved in!!!). I am looking at fence options for the south 118' and 30' of the SW corner that I can do.  Professional builder, so woodworking not an issue. Throw some ideas out, pictures or links!!  Goal is 1) privacy- I don't need to see their backyard full of trash. Nor their freedom walks, and trash tossing. 2) Keep our gardens and livestock safe from dogs. 3) vertical space for garden, even if on the shade side.


 
William Bronson
Posts: 1317
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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What are your height restrictions?
Most cities have them.
Any thought to preserving your sunlight from the south?

Are you going to do earthworks?

If so, something like a ha ha
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ha-ha

or deer-leap (saltatorium)
http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Deer4.gif

might be useful, to get around height restrictions.

The blocking if the sunlight is still bugging me,probably because I lost  my southern light from building a fence between me and our crappy neighbor...



 
David Livingston
steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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leyllandi very cheap grows very fast http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-15018807
 
Justice Kelly
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6 max height of concealing or solid panel.(ch 17 of city code) We are zone 5a USDA, so limits our shrubs. And their is growth time, and moves towards limiting space, but we are looking at everything.  I did see a cedar panel fence that had galvanized pipes @10' with crossbars, and owner said they used for vining plants (beans, kiwi, nasturium, etc... that might fit the bill. Ideal would be 2-3' width of shrub, cut to fit @7-8'. Blueberries, Rasberries and other edge species for the approach, as they handle that well. 

GF likes the shrubs, so that may be the option with the most points so far.  Another 2 months to make final decision!
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
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Justice Kelly wrote:... and their dogs are significant problems to gardens, livestock, etc. 


A hedge wouldn't keep dogs out. And a fence that doesn't completely encircle the property wouldn't, either.
 
Tom Rodgers
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Crazy idea but I just watched a video that demonstrated rounded garden fencing wire shaped  to contain a stack of leaves or other compost material. With a southerly border you could make use of their sun, have a wire fence, compost maker for your place, etc.  You can even plant potted into the sides of these compost candles, which makes for an interesting aesthetic from your point of view. If you put manure in it the neighbor could have a pretty crappy view.
 
Regan Dixon
Posts: 133
Location: Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
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Whatever fence/hedge decision you come up with for the boundary, do you also have the room to plant something closer to your house, to screen the view?  Like a vine up a trellis surrounding a patio, on that side?

Also, please pardon my ignorance...what do you mean by "freedom walk"?  Google didn't help me, here.
 
Justice Kelly
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LOL- freedom walk- they like to hang out and take smoke breaks in their back yard au natural, birthday suit, etc. I'm all for being free, but not what I want to see. I'm not the kind to call it in, -dont like it, dont look- so screening is preferred. And their backyard is the trash pile. To each his own, long as it doesnt affect me.

We are considering everything, including vining plants, trellis, hesco (fence material used as barricade), hegulculture, etc. Ground still froze, so its plan time. New house going in, plus garage, so its a total rework.  My work is typically working on large scale operations, so the challenge is on here.  So many things to consider- house design, attached garage design, w/ incorporated green house, aquaponics, exterior; long term grid down self sufficient for heating/cooking, solar, water collection, etc.


The animal access is through the old rotting pallet fence on their side, which is their side of zero lot line area.  They dont care to fix it, so it's our call to do what we want. Strays, wild rabbit, feral cats, raccoons, etc usually dont last long around us.




 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
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Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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You can absolutely do a living hedge that will keep out dogs. Cats and rabbits may be impossible.

Poncirus trifoliata or osage orange are really thorny and make dense hedges but they are marginal for your climate, you would have to see if they are used around there. black locust would be a good interspecies. Throw some vines in and you won't need to look at the view. Plus in the summer your sun will be minimally compromised. I am planting a hedge with grow tubes at a 45 degree angle parallel to the run of the hedge so that the lowest part of the hedge has more material, preventing gaps as much as possible as the buds on the lower trunk fill in when the tubes are removed. I think it will be epic. Both the species I mentioned will keep out moose, just have to engineer for gap control. You can always prune and stuff like a boma.
boma.jpg
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Mike Jay
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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So the fence can be up to 6' high but you could have stuff growing higher than that?  How high would the fence/hedge need to be to block your view of their freedom?  Do you need to plant stuff in the shade of the fence or is the lot big enough to use that space for other things (storage, compost, pens, etc)? 

Chain link doesn't block the light so you could still have a fence and sun loving plants at the same time.  Or grow sun loving vines up the chain link so it starts as a dog fence and in 4 years becomes a privacy/dog fence.

In the summer, the North side of an E/W fence will get some light in the morning and evening if it's unobstructed (in northern areas like WI).

To keep dogs/critters out I'd second the comment by Rebecca about needing a real fence (not hedge).  

 
Regan Dixon
Posts: 133
Location: Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
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Come to think of it, I saw a photo on this site--sorry, I've forgotten whose--showing a bamboo thicket that would keep out a skinny cat.  Not sure if dealing with bamboo runners is your idea of a good time, but the shoots are edible...gung hay fat choy!
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
Posts: 917
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Lots of people around here uses reclaimed roofing sheets. They build in some 'windows' with wrought iron , which is not desired in your case but you could include mirrors and other ornamentation. It is important that th roofing sheets have some rust otherwise it looks plain boring.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1317
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I put up my illegally tall cedar plank fence up because my neighbor sheared off the heavily fruited grape vine all along their side of a chain link fence.
Now,your neighbor seems unlikely to do that,but my neighbor hated looking at MY yard,and still did it.

I would want a berm, steep on their side, sloped on mine, chain link at the top on their side.
Planted heavily.
The berm hides the naked, the fence keeps out the animals, but allows sun.
Spiky nitrogen fixers with good roots on the side facing the naked?
Lush permaculture food forest on my side.

 
leila hamaya
pollinator
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Location: northern northern california
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yeah i second or third the berm idea.

a tall berm, maybe a little circular shaped, or in an arrow shape. 3-4 feet tall of piled earth, about 3 -6 feet wide...

then planting even short shrubs/trees/vines on top would more quickly block out the view.

a dead hedge on top of a berm could work well, and quickly.

especially after planting the bottom of the dead hedge with quick growing species, roses, climbers, brambles, raspberry....
 
Cath Brown
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Hi Justice,
I extend my empathy.

I suggest a living wall....mix some ivy in with other hardy plants for a sound reducing barrier. Just google it...they can look amazing. There's lots of information online.

If you're handy, then you can build something pretty amazing using pallets...try to use the ones with HT( heat treated) stamped on them- they don't contain nasty chemicals. I've built a vertical herb garden with pallets...it works!

Good luck!
 
Don Tooley
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Here's an idea.. If fencing is a problem. Lilac bushes.. They will work.
 
Angelika Maier
pollinator
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I would still put a fence in and on the fnce strain wires for the living things.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Tom Rodgers wrote:Crazy idea but I just watched a video that demonstrated rounded garden fencing wire shaped  to contain a stack of leaves or other compost material. With a southerly border you could make use of their sun, have a wire fence, compost maker for your place, etc.  You can even plant potted into the sides of these compost candles, which makes for an interesting aesthetic from your point of view. If you put manure in it the neighbor could have a pretty crappy view.


IN my direct personal experience wire and compost is a BAD combination. The weight of compost pulls on the wire, which stretches and collapses out of shape. Over time the contact with wet compost makes the wire rust and within a few years you will be digging wire-tangled scraps of collapsed compost/fence out and cursing the whole mess.
 
Stan Roush
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You might  want to try thorny bushes , the kind they plant around nuclear power plants ! And of course the moat idea , haha wall , along with thorns should keep at bay.
 
Lynn Chason
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My father had this issue he put up a 3ft tall privacy fence of 1x6's then did lattice for the top 3ft. He built planter boxes  along most of it to grow vining roses to hide the more hideous parts of the neighbors yard.
 
Donna Lockey
Posts: 17
Location: Ontario Canada
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Fencing and then a lovely high berm or hugleberm beside it planted with flowering shrubs such as lilac, serviceberry, rosa rugosa and even dwarf apples with provide you with a privacy screen and block sound coming from your neighbour's side.  I personally have  200' of 15 foot white cedar hedges to the north and east side  and a  the multiple shrub bed of varying heights of 10' or more. I planted with having a wind and privacy hedge. The shrubs are all chosen for food for birds and colour in the fall as well. Enjoy your planning and implementing. And remember, if you don't like it, you can change it!
 
Randy Bucher
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Have a neighbor that had problems similar to yours , he put a 6 foot solid panel fence and topped it 2 foot higher on each panel with lattice panels.
 
Matt johnson
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Good fences make good neighbors.  I say good raspberry hedges make better neighbors.  Put up a 6' wire screen fence, then plant a blackberry hedge.   If you want, you can make sure it is the type with thorns.  Personally, I would get the non thorny type just to be more neighborly.  Tell them they can have anything that grows over to their side.  My dad did this in every house we grew up in and it always worked.  I plan on doing it when we put in our yard this summer.
 
Don Goddard
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Well this many posts in just one week after you started this thread!  For what solace it is, at least you know that we feel your pain.  However nice it would be to convert your neighbor, it looks like little chance for that.   But I have to give a nod to Matt Johnson for his idea which incorporates at least a step in that direction and also put a good foot forward should you be lucky enough to have those bad neighbors move because it would reflect better on you if new people moved in and were greeted with something much nicer than a quasi spite fence.

We who are responding here might be able to give better or maybe even "inspired" responses if we could see a plat of your lot.   Perhaps you could go to Google Maps, find your address, put the map in satellite mode and do a maximum zoom. Then do a screen shot and post it here.  Be sure to include the usual map scale line so that we can get the measurement, although if the property boundaries of your lot are clear we can use those with the lot size info you have provided.  We could then better see your predicament and you would not have to give your address away.  If the above imaging steps are beyond your current computer skills I am sure that there are many here that could help with that step..

For what you desire to accomplish I doubt that just a fence of any sort all by itself will be satisfactory.  But a fence of a wire mesh sort plus a tall hedge should do nicely though you may lose the spring sunshine in part of your back yard.

I put in a chain link fence to keep the neighbor kids from using our lot as a shortcut.  There are chain link posts that are driven into the ground and then an angle plate slips over the top and is driven into the ground with a 4 pound short handled "Blacksmith's hammer".  This sort of fence, goes in quickly without concrete and is more easily repaired if someone backs a car into it.  That however would be a first step and animal deterrent.   However Given that these neighbors appear to be the disagreeable sort, make sure that the fence is located legally.   If there are survey stakes placed on the lot make sure that no one has moved them.  If at all possible get the neighbor's agreement that where you are putting the fence is not violating their boundaries.   And consider that you may not be the only one wanting a fence, if the other neighbors want a fence too, you might get a better price from a fencing contractor if you are using the services of one.

The next step would be to plant a hedge of sorts.   I am a strong advocate of bamboo.  In your colder climate I would be inclined to go with a "clumping bamboo"  It does not spread like a running bamboo and in a few years you could have a 20 foot wall of green graceful bamboo waving in the breeze.  You should be able to have a bamboo that holds its leaves all winter and since the neighbor is to the south any drifting snow from a snow fence effect should dress up his yard in a clean white mantel.  Although the clumping varieties tend to grow slower and you will have to plant quite a few because they do not grow as fast as the running variety, still they are fairly fast growers.  Foliage as a barrier also dampens sound and filters odors such as tobacco smoke etc. and growth height is less likely to be regulated by the town. 

Although it is likely to be slower growing various evergreens may be a good consideration and you should visit your local nurseries to see what varieties they might recommend.  You can be pretty sure that they have dealt with this sort of problem before and they may be able to do the heavy work on this if you need them to.


Do you need or can you use and will the city code allow you. a storage shed in your back yard?  I.E. a place to park the lawn mower and garden tools.  that might be a useful investment if there is a particular eyesore you need to block, (E.G. a dog house where the dog makes a real mess of things).

I hope this helps.
 
Amit Enventres
Posts: 433
Location: Ohio, USA
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So, I have a dog I keep in, but understanding neighbors. So I made a fence penetrable by light, as a trellis. It's pretty cheap. 1"x2" seperated at 5' by treated fence posts. I then have fruit trees working on filling out espelier style, raising the height. I have string in the fence for easy tendril climbing too which is pretty invisible. The whole thing gets covered with green 6 months out of the year (because it snows the rest). This edge is one of my most productive garden places and invites the neighbors to partake. You could make a fence like this, as minimal protection for the garden and fill it in with evergreens rather than annuals and deciduous. One photo is without the green in fullness and the other has been conquered by butternut, and others.
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Don Goddard
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Amit Enventres,
You certainly have a verdant yard there.   The variety of plants is certainly broad.   I recognize both vegetable/fruit plants as well as flowers.   The strength of the growth implies that you have a very fertile yard.   Now just so long as there is no city inspector who thinks that every garden must look as prim and proper as a flower bed in the city park you should be ok. 

Alas there are some troublemakers who would call your successful rich verdant growth an unkempt weed filled yard just because they do not see bare ground in between straight rows of plants.    I am impressed to see the height of the tomato plants in the foreground and they look so healthy despite the obvious mildew growing on some of the other adjacent plants.  Perhaps you can expound at length on your gardening techniques and if all that green growth is producing a good harvest as well.  

Nature has a way of covering up ugly with Green in summer and white in winter, and you certainly have the green phase going strong.  Now if Justice Kelly can just get an animal barrier fence plus a green leafy coverup in place for the bad neighbor over their fence so the neighbor dogs stay out and the unseemly view gets a green coverup, things should work out.  perrenial green/evergreen is what is needed there.   which is one reason I mentioned bambooIt will grow green all the way to the ground and varieties such as I use (Phyllostachys aureo sulcatta, aka yellow groove) does not drop its annual leaves until the new ones are coming out in the spring.  but I have plenty of room for a running bamboo like that and they will probably want a clumping bamboo and should probably be sure to research the leaf holding ability of what they choose. (much info on that via http://www.bamboogarden.com ; But coniferous trees may also be a superior choice.
 
Kate McRae
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I'd do as follows:

Search your soul - are you ready for the bad juju of terrible neighbors?
If you have any chance, sell the property and buy another.

If you opt to stay, here's my ยข2 worth:
1: Double chain link fence, first (3 ft) along the property line, second two feet in, so they're less likely to cut down your grapes or whatever you grow along the higher, 6 ft fence.
2: Southern exposure (haha) is perfect for a greenhouse, could go all along the border another foot or two from the fence. Who wouldn't love a 100 ft long greenhouse? Your house can connect to it, allowing you to use the heated air passively in your house. You can have all sorts of tomatos and so forth, even at your latitude (check out this greenhouse and garden! http://permaculturenews.org/2014/10/18/canadian-rocket-stove-powered-greenhouse/).

I feel certain you'll make the best of it. Good luck!

 
Alex Michaud
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I haven't read all of the other responses to this thread yet - gotta get off the computer in a moment - but I just wanted to say that from what I have read I would imagine myself doing some kind of small earthwork like slanting up towards the neighboring property with the dropoff on their side. not too tall though, like a foot and a half maybe, possibly with a stacked stone retaining wall on their side and then a fence of your desired construct on the top of the slope. then perhaps something like Hippophae mixed with some more ornamental evergreen shrubs (there'd be an added benefit of having fruit bearing shrubs that pair with nitrogen fixing Frankia on top of a slope leading towards your property from the sea berry) on your side of the fence.

so sort of like the deer leap but not necessarily with a ditch on the other side. with a stone retaining wall and with some shrubs at the top of the slope.
I don't know
 
jamie blackledge
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I am pretty good at talking to people, so my first step would be to carefully talk to the neighbours.  Pretend to like them.  Pretend to be interested in something they like (e.g. buy some big dog chew toys for their dogs & tell them you think their dogs are fantastic).  Propose a privacy scheme that involves/includes them.  Offer to plant something (for free) on their side of the border that might interest them.

You can buy inexpensive, dog-proof fence quite cheaply in the United States.  4in. by 4in. or 4in. by 2in. fencing, in 100ft. lengths (48in. tall), is $100-$200, probably.  You can use that fencing to seal the property while you pursue a long-term solution.  The Trifoliate Orange 'Black Dragon' cultivar is most certainly dog-proof -you do not need the 'Black Dragon' cultivar, it is just the most horrifically-thorned of the species. A thicket of native/wild (thorned) raspberries is dog-proof.  Other options:  Bamboo

-

Slightly related: 
There is a terrifice podcast called 'The Dollop'.  They have an episode about a famous "spite fence" in San Francisco:  http://thedollop.libsyn.com/70-the-spite-fence
 
Amit Enventres
Posts: 433
Location: Ohio, USA
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Don,
Thanks. I did fertilize because the fertility was ignored lawn upon my arrival, and I tested it as low with my chemistry set. I think I'm going to lay off the fertilizer this year now that I boosted the fertility. The tomatoes tried to get 8' but the fence was only 4', so they bent over. The mildew hit the butternut, but I think that's due mostly to my lack of genetic variety. I do have drip (purposely leaky hose). Harvest was good. No neighbor complaints there. Other than they got sick of tomatoes

For my neighbors  I try to make nice views, so they can't easily see the crazy grass in this back yard. They are also happy the house is no longer vacant. It had been for a year. They see stucco raised beds, trellises covered in green and little flowers. I try to keep the front yard decent, though this year got insane so I plan on focusing on remedying that. I did get a comment on that, but I am intending to remedy that asap. They also see someone really hard at work, which they appreciate.

The other thing is we chose this city because of its friendliness to such things. They allow 4 chickens with a permit. They have code for solar and permeable drive way conversion. They allow edible front yard and many people have 5 gain buckets with tomatoes on their front steps. Oh, and property prices are low compared to the rest of the country. All this means that there's other Permies here too.

As for neighbors not wanting you to buy a vacant lot, I do think the right thing might be to see if you can talk with them, maybe involve them in what they see, if they are willing. My house was a neighborhood liability that we took away. So inevitably they are happier. Yours might have been the hang out, which now they are loosing. If they can see a gain in your existence, that might help the situation, or maybe not.
 
Jim Gardener
Posts: 33
Location: Acton (north Los Angeles County), CA
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If you want a barrier that nothing other than birds and rodents will cross, try Dovyalis caffra (Kei apple). Osage orange thorns are nothing compared to these thorns. They are used in Africa to keep lions out. The plants are male or female, so if you want fruit, make sure you have both. You can grow them from seed. They are slow to start, but once established are extremely tolerant of any condition and can grow large or be pruned to any size you want. Don't buy into the sales pitch claiming the fruit tastes like apricots. Kei apples are definitely significantly stronger in taste.
 
Lisa Petrillo
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Feeling your pain...we had those neighbours behind us as well!! We put up a six foot privacy fence and then screwed two foot high lattice panels on top. (see photo!). Six foot was code but without a complaint? We figured if there was an issue we could just unscrew panels and remove without wasting them. I planted an ornamental sambucca elderberry which is a good spreading shrub, grows fast and is hardy as well as pretty.. and my chickens used to love sitting under it!  Note the joe pye weed in foreground...grows fast as well and is loved by bees and butterflies! Have moved since and thankful we have no rear neighbours!!

PS The pot plants they were growing were disguised as well : /
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Lorinne Anderson
Posts: 37
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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I am a huge fan of metal fencing, in the form of metal roof panels.  It comes in multiple colors, styles and price points (usually $20-30 for an 3x8 foot -or longer- panel) and once installed is maintenance free as it requires no painting.  If used with galvanized posts, the entire system is rot proof.  But even better, is that if one buries the first panel in the earth a foot or two it precludes any critter from digging under, and/or climbing over (assuming your posts are on the inside), especially dogs and cats.  As a solid barrier it also prevents a lot of dog barking, as they cannot SEE through the fence.  Lastly, with the silver or white side facing your garden it amplifies the light and eliminates the wind creating a micro environment that help maximize garden yields and, in many cases, extending the seasons.

For those who prefer reuse, recycle or find the price of new panels a challenge, there are often barns being torn down where the old panels are free for the taking, or contact your local metal roofing company and ask to collect the panels from roofs they are replacing.  If one chooses, it can be painted, or even become the base for an outdoor mural.  The few holes from the old screws are unimportant as these are now fence panels.  If blocking light is an issue, you can always splurge on translucent acrylic roof panels for the top row that will continue to block the view of the neighbors, contain their dogs, and yet not block the light for the top few feet.

Just ensure you know your wind direction and speeds so that you provide adequate support for the panels - without the slits normally found in fences this can be quite a wind catcher, and in a strong wind inadequate supports will fail bringing the wall down.
 
Sylvester Fishburne
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I'm reading about people saying neighbors cut down fruiting grapes from their side of the fence.  My god, they're insane.  Obviously don't give a shit what they eat.  Although I get that reaction a lot when I recommend to neighbors that they plant fruit trees too - No, it's too much mess.  The mess is the ripe fruit.  The smoking would kill me - nudity would be whatever.  Any chance of making friends, handing over the olive branch (with olives on it) so to speak?  I like the idea of chain link with grapes or hardy kiwi's.  I'd erected a massive trellis in my front yard for grapes.  And after I was done, my neighbor who had been audibly grumbling to others about it came over and said, I just want you to know you can't build that because of codes.  You can't build in the right of way.  I tried contacting the city pre-emptively (since I could tell he was going to) and they didn't object to pictures.  Shortly thereafter I got a notice to tear it down, and the guy used the same language as my neighbor but threatened me when I asked for a citation of whatever law or regulation I was violating - he would not provide one and threatened to order me to appear in court.  They referred to it being in the right of way.  It did not obstruct the road or people walking by in the grass (no sidewalks).  In fact, I would say, it provided tons of interest.  Was planning on putting a bench out there to share.  .  It almost seemed like he made up the answer, but eventually he referred to a rule of thumb against building (what's building?) at or past the line of the power lines.  No posts were near the trellis.  And there are a few trees under the lines but it's not like the grapes were going to grow much higher.  I took down the side closer to the street.  So now I have a wobbly wall and some grapes were deserted.  Fortunately, I just found a much smaller way to trellis that looks nice.  Oh, by the way, I was told I couldn't keep by dual axle trailer I purchased for gardening, even in the back yard.  I live in a blue collar neighborhood and watch several people pull dual axle trailers out for their lawn mowing businesses every day in the Summer.  I was just at a more affluent friends house in a neighborhood with large lots but no fencing and I could see two of these trailers from his driveway.  It still bugs me, not that I even like the guy that much, but just like to be friendly or at least unspiteful with neighbors.  Once I get my yard packed, I'm going to embark more heavily on helping others.  Don't really have to wait.  But the trailer and the city here provides almost free finished leaf compost ($20 a cubic yard) I can help a lot.  I keep the trailer at a couple friend's houses and they get to use it a lot.  One fixes up used cars and one does wood working projects, so it has actually increased the good here.  Heck, I don't know, offer to clean their yard for them.  Explain that the plants on the fence are food, and they'd be welcome to help themselves to some of it.  The dog part sounds kinda scary.  Good luck.  Sorry to use your post as a forum for venting.
 
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