Building a fence between your property and that of your neighbors may seem like something that could cause offense, but if you’re careful, building a fence can actually improve your relationship with the people next door. Here’s how.
Image by marc falardeau via Flickr
The most important step to building a fence without hurting any feelings is communication. Be courteous and take a moment to talk to your neighbor. Make sure both parties know exactly where the boundaries are so you don’t encroach on territory that isn’t yours. While you’re discussing where the fence will be, talk about the height and style of the fence you have planned. If your neighbors have real concerns, listen and consider adjusting your plan.
Collaborate and Compromise
If you and your neighbors will have to look at that new fence every single day, take the time to make sure it looks nice. Talk to your neighbors about the style of the fence and the materials you’re using. Consider building a “neighbor-friendly” fence with alternating planks so that neither neighbor is stuck with the ugly back side of a fence.
If your neighbor already has a fence up and you are planning on adding one on your side, it would be courteous to make it the same height. Also make sure you won’t damage their fence when you build yours. Decide ahead of time how you will handle maintenance. If you are building the fence, you should be responsible for maintenance on both sides, but get permission from your neighbor before you drag your toolbox over to their backyard.
Check the Rules
Many cities and homeowner’s associations have rules about what changes you can make to your house and yard. Check to make sure your new fence won’t violate any of the rules. If a fence in Calgary can only be eight feet high, for example, it would be a shame to build one that was eight feet and two inches only to be told you needed to take it down. Breaking the rules is a quick way to upset your neighbors, so do your research ahead of time to prevent any problems.
Once you have built the fence, the barrier will make things easier for you and your neighbors. A fence will prevent your dog from invading the neighbor’s yard and give your kids a clear visual boundary so they don’t invade the neighbor’s space during their game of catch. Fences also simplify yard work. You won’t accidentally plant a new tree that invades their yard, and your grass will be insulated from their unruly weeds. Creating a clear boundary will prevent you from intruding on each other’s space, which will in turn prevent disagreements and conflict.
In his poem The Mending Wall, Robert Frost famously coined the phrase “Good fences make good neighbors.” If you are smart about the way you approach building your new fence, this saying can be true. Communicate, collaborate, and compromise with your neighbors before you build your fence. Once you have checked the local rules, you can create a friendly boundary between you and your neighbors that will make things easier for everyone involved. Build a new fence this spring and improve your relationship with your neighbors at the same time.