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good fences

My new neighbor has decided to remove the four-foot stockade fence that has separated the two properties for the past twenty years. Technically, it’s their fence, but it’s still in good shape. We’ve gotten used to it being there, and have based all our landscaping on the fact that it is there. The neighbor says he wants to “open it up.”

Now, I don’t want to seem un-neighborly, but I’m not sure I want to “open it up.” For one thing, they have a dog they let run in the yard. Another, I like the small degree of privacy the fence provides. I like it so much that last night I decided that if they remove the fence, I will put up another one just like it.

So, what’s the most tactful way to let my neighbor know that the effort he puts into removing the fence will be for naught?

Good Neighbor

The Gay Perspective: Why not just tell your neighbor what you’ve told us?

The Shutterbug says: Like any dispute of this nature, you should handle it upfront and in a neighborly fashion. Explain to your neighbor that you are comfortable with the current backyard situation and would prefer the fence remain intact. On other other hand, if you do nothing and the fence is removed, the look on your neighbor’s face would be priceless when the fence magically “reappears.”

Dining Out says: I say get rid of the tacky fence and replace it with something green. A French Garden (think Marie Antoinette-esque shrubbery), a few trees, a veggie garden, a massive bird bath, and a nice wooden picnic table so your family can dine al fresco. You can even one up your neighbors by adopting a bigger, louder dog from the SPCA and letting it roam free in your new lovely yard.

The Sales Guy says: Well, I think putting up a fence a couple of days after he takes his down will speak volumes, don’t you? That said, being an extremely pragmatic sort, I would do a Tool-time Tim move and inform your fenced-in neighbor of your intention to re-fence the property. This will both save money and avoid the trauma to your shrubs and assorted greenery along the fence line.

Fence contractors doing a tear down and then a rebuild is a mess everyone would want to avoid.

The Practical Cogitator says: Well, a four-foot stockade fence can surely be replaced with something better, greener and taller. Opportunity is knocking. Think arborvitae. A low maintenance shrub/tree. When the tops are trimmed they grow fatter and wider until their branches meet to create a thick green fence. Once the desired width has been met stop trimming the tops and they’ll grow taller, six feet, then eight feet, then 10 feet. City ordinance allows that an actual fence can be only six feet high at the maximum, so this green fence is a great way to go taller. This green fence will be appealing to you and your neighbors, and provide a fair amount of privacy, but it wont keep the dog out of your yard. Perhaps you can suggest to them that if they remove the existing fence they need to invest in an invisible fence, which will be costly to them and startlingly painful to their beloved pet.

Strictly Classified says: Good fences do make good neighbors, and good theives. I can see where you are coming from. Your landscaping has been anchored by a fence, and if the fence is removed, it will look strange from both yards. Your neighbor should want to keep his or her dog confined to his or her yard. I would just speak to your neighbor and mention your concerns. Should the fence come down, you are within your rights to replace it with a new fence of your own.

The Provocateur says: Here’s what you’re gonna do: let him take down the fence. Don’t utter a single syllable before he starts doing it. Then, when it’s all cleared away, put up your new fence. If at all possible, do it while he’s not there, and try to make sure it resembles the current fence as closely as possible. When he asks what gives, tell him he never asked how you felt about removing the old one.

This is gonna be great. I’m gonna record the six o’clock news every day this summer, just so I can be sure to catch the feud that’s sure to ensue.

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