Fence Saga

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Our side fence has been rather falling down for some time now (like, since before we moved here two and a half years ago), and has been getting steadily worse as the builders did their thing next door (constructing two monstrous two-storey town houses on our street despite its heritage overlay). It was finally time to construct a new fence. The owner-builder of the townhouses next door said he’d get some quotes. One day he called Adam to tell him that a fence man would be coming over the next day to pull down the old fence and start building the new one. No quote, no discussion about height etc, just facts. He said we wouldn’t find a cheaper price (but wasn’t sure how much it would cost himself), and told us it’d be 6 ft high the whole way along which we were happy with (our previous fence was shorter in the front section). We told him to go ahead but nothing happened. A week later we found out the guys he found turned out to be refugees without building permits. I guess that’s why they were so cheap!

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Pretty soon he found another guy who was also cheap but incredibly rude and disrespectful of our property. Not only that, but he turned the fence around so we have the B side (posts) when we previously had the A side (palings). When we approached him about it, he made out that he was doing us a favour and that we were being ungrateful. We told him he should’ve asked us and that he wasn’t doing us a favour as we would have preferred the paling side, and expected to get the paling side as that’s what the previous fence had and that’s the pattern that went down our whole street. We could’ve made him change it but he had done over half the fence before we noticed and it does have some advantages in that we have a little more space this way. The main disadvantage is that our concrete side path no longer lines up with the fence and we have an 18cm dirt patch between the fence and the concrete. Also, there is now a gap between the side gate and the fence which we will have to fill.

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So, what should we do with an 18cm wide dirt patch? Some options I’ve thought of:

1. Have a very, very skinny garden bed.
It’s very skinny
Birds will kick dirt/mulch onto our path from it
It’s shady

2. Fill it with concrete.
Won’t look like a perfect path

3. Add brick pavers.
Weeds will grow through the gaps
Will look a bit messy/funny
Unlikely to get bricks that are the exact right size (especially as there are variations in the width of the gap)

Any thoughts/feelings/questions/comments??

12 thoughts on “Fence Saga

  1. Hi Jen! That’s really annoying about the fence; I’d be really mad! But I suppose it’s done now. Could you fill the gap in with a fine gravel? And maybe plant some little succulents or pretty plants every so often in it? I think that would look nice – a mini gravel garden!

  2. Fill the gap with dwarf mondo grass, which will stabilise the soil and prevent it splashing in the rain, doesn’t need mowing, won’t take over, but will expand to fill the space tidily. I like the black stuff myself: Ophiopogon nigra. The leaves are leathery and strappy. It also has pretty pale lilac flowers and makes purple berries when they’re over. Best of all, it doesn’t need loads of light, perfect for behind the fence.

  3. I like the idea of the mondo grass, that should look nice. I’d also try to get some sort of a shade tolerant fruiting vine growing. I just like using all the real estate you have to grow something tasty. Kiwi does well in partial shade for example. You’d need a male and a female though to get fruit.

    Having the back of the fence on your side would be an advantage were you to grow some vines. More things to attach trellis material to. If there was more sun, I’d say passion fruit would look amazing along that path. And a fresh new sturdy fence would bear the weight.

    You are correct about him installing the fence backwards. The person who builds fences should have the cross beams on their side. Keeps intruders from climbing the fence and getting into the yard. So, yes the landowner gets the “uglier” side.

    I have a narrow 12″ dirt strip along a fence in my back yard. I decided on adding purple hopseed bushes that I’m training to grow flat to the fence. I was worried about the roots getting enough air and water in such a narrow spot, but they have been growing really well.

    Let us know what you decide!

  4. Correa is a great shade loving native climber that also looks really nice and produces a lot of flower.

    Landscape stones would good as birds can’t kick them off + they keep the soil insulated.

  5. Thanks for the suggestions James and Marilyn! My dad pointed out that I should perhaps wait to see if the neighbours plant grass on their side (which would likely be kikuyu in this area) before I get too excited about planting a garden. Don’t want to spend the rest of my weekends weeding my new strip of garden. Will let you know what happens.

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