A Cedar Fence that Keeps the Neighbors Happy
As the wise Caroline Westerhoff once said, a fence represents the “irresolvable tension between boundary and hospitality.” We build fences to establish borders with neighbors, and by blocking them out we show that we respect them. One type of fence, in particular, was designed with respect towards the neighbors in mind – the appropriately named Good Neighbor fence.
A Good Neighbor fence is the epitome of equality and cooperation. While most cedar fence designs are built with all of the boards attached to one side of the rail, creating one smooth “face” and one less attractive back side, Good Neighbor fences feature alternating boards along a sturdy rail. Popular in neighborhoods with a lot of shared property lines, the Good Neighbor fence looks the same from both sides.
Benefits of Good Neighbor Fencing
Privacy is one of the top reasons homeowners cite for building a new fence, and the six-foot privacy fence has become a common sight in many suburban areas. A Good Neighbor fence offers all of the benefits of a privacy fence, with some additional features:
- Looks equally good from all angles. In some communities, city or neighborhood regulations require homeowners to build their privacy fences with the smooth, more attractive side facing out. Not only is this a courtesy to the neighbors, but it makes your home look better from the street. With a Good Neighbor fence, it doesn’t matter which side faces out; your cedar fence will look just as good whether you’re inside the yard our outside.
- Allows wind to pass through. Unlike a standard privacy fence, a Good Neighbor fence has gaps between the boards so wind can pass through. This gives the fence extra resilience in regions that experience strong wind.
Tips for Building a Good Neighbor Fence
As with any home construction project, building a Good Neighbor fence requires careful planning. The more work you put in on the front end, the more smoothly your fence installation will go. Keep these tips in mind when building a Good Neighbor Fence:
Talk to your neighbors. The driving concept behind a Good Neighbor fence is consideration for your neighbors. An important step before building any fence is to divulge your plans to anyone who shares a property line with you. Most people don’t have a problem with a neighbor building a new fence, especially one as attractive as a Good Neighbor fence. Some may even offer to help with construction costs.
Understand property line regulations. Research your local land-use regulations to find out if there are any rules that may apply to your new cedar fence. In some cases, property owners are required to split costs (and maintenance) when constructing a fence on shared property lines. Alternatively, you may want to consider building the fence at least two feet within your property line. This will give you complete control over your fence and absolve your neighbors of any financial and maintenance obligations.
Customize your fence. Good Neighbor fences offer plenty of room for individual specifications. You can choose the height of your fence as well as how far apart the boards are spaced. A popular choice among homeowners is to overlap the boards about half an inch, which provides a little extra privacy at minimal cost.
Use pressure-treated posts and rails. Whether you’re building your own fence or hiring a contractor, make sure the posts and rails are made from pressure-treated wood to ensure maximum longevity. Fir is a good choice – it’s strong, weathers nicely and takes well to the pressure-treating process.
Choose your contractor carefully. Unless you go the DIY route, it’s important to choose a reliable contractor who builds high-quality cedar fences. Professional cedar fence installation should be quick, non-invasive and affordable, so do some research before deciding on a company. Ask a few questions before deciding on a company: What kind of reviews do they receive? Are the materials they use of high quality? Are they too expensive? Get a few fence price quotes.
Plan for maintenance. Any cedar fence will require regular maintenance throughout its lifetime, but there are things you can do to reduce the natural wear and tear that’s bound to occur. Choose high-quality materials, such as fir and cedar. These types of wood are very resilient and continue looking great year after year. Treat your fence with weather-resistant finish, as well. Regular restaining every few years will help protect your Good Neighbor fence from rain, wind and snow.
If it’s true that good fences make good neighbors, then choosing a Good Neighbor fence is a no-brainer. Attractive, sturdy and economical, the Good Neighbor fence is bound to please you and everyone else in your neighborhood.
~Ben Nystrom, 2010