Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

We’ve all heard it said that good fences make good neighbours which has a ring of truth (and cleverness) about it. It’s lovely to have nice neighbours but it’s also pretty wonderful to have your own sanctuary. I’m in the enviable position of liking all of the people living on the other side of my fences. Both next door neighbours I count as friends. The woman who lives behind me is someone I’ve only met a couple of times when we holler across the back fence talking about tree pruning or, more recently, fence replacement, but she seems like a great lady.

The reason we’ve been discussing fence replacement lately is that the back fence (above) has (obviously) seen better days. In fact, it is the original fence. This house was built in 1928, hers in 46. Can hardwood fences last 84 years? Surely not! Well, if this one wasn’t built in 1928 it was definitely put in by 46 so it has lasted at least 66 years. Not that it’s precisely lasted. If it weren’t for the oak tree it leans against, it would have fallen years ago. But even though the fence was technically standing, it was definitely time for it to go. It had lost several palings and quite a few inches in height. It was sinking and crumbling in glacier-like stubbornness. I had resorted to leaing some assorted wood bits against the bigger holes to discourage the chickens from roaming. (I’m sure if they’d ever been motivated they could have escaped, but why would they when they have paradise right here?) But otherwise, the fence was in its “original” state.

That is, it was until Frank started dismantling it. He decided he wanted to keep a few (that pile looks like more than a few to me) of the palings for various projects. On the list right now are garden beds and possum boxes. Who knows what else he’ll come up with.

Once the dismantling started, the chickens were imprisoned in their run. They were none too well pleased at this turn of events and stared at us between the bars of their cell whenever we were nearby. But it was only for 3 days so they shouldn’t have any long-lasting psychological effects 🙂 Being well-behaved chooks, they didn’t pause in their daily laying so I’m happy.

Here’s the fence now. It’s sturdy and will keep chickens in and neighbours good. All it needs is a few months of weather to turn it a darker grey and a bit of time for greenery to grow up it. We had to cut down the giant monstera that had grown up the oak tree and a couple of philodendrons were damaged as the fence went in. I plan to replant those and I’m sure they’ll cling to and climb up this bright new fence in no time at all.

Here’s a photo of my back yard at the end of winter with the new fence. It all looks rather stark and dormant, but also open and light. I like this garden whatever the season.

I should be perfectly content, but I’m a bit worried about my bandicoot – I’m still not sure where he lives. He digs in my back garden almost every night but this morning (the first morning with the completed fence) I didn’t find any bandicoot holes. The neighbours all say he digs in theirs as well so I know he has a reasonably large territory. He’s created a bandicoot subway under the fence between my backyard and Anne’s but I think he moved around to the others via the rotten back fence. I hope he digs a passage under the new fence and doesn’t decide to move away.


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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2 Responses to Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

  1. We have similar thoughts on fences! I have a tall one all around my yard, and love to watch the faces of friends when they walk in to my private oasis. To counter the starkness, I have virginia creeper, hops vine, clematis, and now a couple of nice grapevines planted around the perimeter. This softens the edges, and gives a nice green backdrop. Clematis, of course, blooms stunningly, while the Va. creeper turns scarlet in the fall, and hops makes all those cool-looking seed cones. My clothesline, all hung with sheets and towels, adds another big splash of color, lol. Thanks for the great posts!

    • This fence is always in shade (it’s on the north of the property – the sun side – so it shades itself) which makes plantings more problematic. We’ve had good luck with monstera. I am also pretty sure creeping fig will cilmb it – so I’ve cut and stuck in water about 30 shoots from one of my existing plants. Those big leafy prayer plants and the shrimp plants also do well in the shade and they should spring back and cover at least 2/3 of the fence so it really should blend in pretty quickly.

      I like the idea of growing hops – I suppose I’d need more than would grow along the back of my property to keep me in beer though 🙂

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