Decks & fences: the good, the bad and the ugly in Doperdom.

Here’s your chance: What did you do right and wrong when you built your deck and fence?

We’re finally going to put up a little privacy fence (about 8 feet long) across a clearly visible to the neighbours piece of our backyard, along with a deck to go out the back sliding door where we currently have rickety old steps.

The fence has to be a “I really like you, my favourite neighbour, but I would like a little privacy” type fence and the deck, well, the deck can be almost anything.

Tell me your deck and fence stories and advice.

How high is this fence going to be? My own tip – don’t be tempted to use those metal spikes (Metposts) that you hammer into the ground and fit the fence posts in. Use a proper post hole digger to make a neat round hole and concrete them in place.

Putting up a fence round my back garden was probably the most satisfying of the many DIY jobs I’ve done on my place over the past three years. (Made extra satisfying by my neighbour asking if I did it for a living, as I’d done a much better job then the “professionals” she’d got in to do hers :wink: ) The old one had blown down repeatedly and there was virtually none of it left. The new one is still solid as a rock despite 70mph gusts this winter.

Avoid the cheap larch-lap ready-made fence panels. Closeboard is the way to go for strength (ready made closeboard panels are not a bad option), or did you have something more decorative in mind?

if you value your neighbor’s opinion, why don’t you plant a fast-growing hedge or bank of trees as a barrier? It seems a little less “I’m keeping you out” then a small section of fence. As for decks, I found I didn’t really use mine as much as I thought I would, but YMMV. What I want is a nice treehouse where I can look down and watch my horses in the pasture.


Let the “nice” side of the fence face your neighbour.

What’s closeboard?

I actually was thinking of using those posts that you hammer into the ground. There’s a local guy which digs post holes which I think I’ll get.

Re: fence. I was thinking of something very decorative, about 6 ft high. The deck coming off the door which is going to be about 6 ft away from the fence is about 24" off the ground so the height of the fence should be enough to give some privacy then.

I was thinking of maybe putting little “cutouts” in it which plants could be put if that’s clear at all :cool:

I think the budget “I really like you” message is best sent by this style, where the boards are spaced apart, but the gaps visually filled in by equally, but off-set, spaced boards on the other side. Psychologically, it’s still “open”, but the goal of blocking vision is still there. However, this kind of fence is a pain in the neck (and back and shoulder) to paint or stain, because there’s more of it and you have to reach around and behind lots of nooks and crannies.

However, a little creativity and money, and you can get an actual beautiful, as well as useful thing. Check this one out. Half a summer with morning glories will cover that baby with gorgeous greenery and flowers no one will be able to see through. That, to me, says, “I love gardening and beautiful things,” not “Stop looking at me while I’m sunbathing!”

Darned, I meant to mention there has to be a gate in it as well for carting the garbage bin through!

Whynot - the second one has some merit - a little too "square’ shaped for me, I like more rounded stuff but that’s definitely an idea.

I didn’t build my deck, but bought a house with one, and here’s the problem. The way mine and my neighbor’s houses are laid out, I have a blind spot onto my deck, but they have full view–and I don’t like my neighbors.

Due to the corner of my kitchen covering the blind spot of my deck, I can’t take two steps out onto my deck in privacy. So, later this week or next, I’m putting up a four foot lattice privacy screen onto my deck. I don’t care if the neighbors give a crap–they have to look at it, I don’t. I’m screened from them.

I would put a full-on privacy fence in place, but that’s too expensive, and I like an open back yard. That may come next year.

Or, it may come next week, I’m not sure when I can afford it.

Our deck is made entirely of 2 x 4s (including the very cool railing). It would withstand a very heavy hit. However, our contractor put too much “breathing” space between the boards, such that spike heels get caught up in them. If you or a frequent visitor wear spike heels a lot, make sure you don’t make this mistake. It’s a giant pain to avoid the ‘cracks’ every time you walk on it.

Put as much of it together with decking screws as you can - instead of nails. If you have to remove a plank (for replacement, to get to the septic system you built the deck over (don’t laugh - it’s been known to happen)) or whatnot, it’s easier and you don’t destroy the plank or whatever.


I love the second one.

Board on board. That is the only kind of fence my village will allow.

I have no idea what Canada is like or what its laws are like, but there may be zoning requirements for building decks/fences - if your town does that kind of thing. I’ve seen a few in my town outside Chicago be torn down because they didn’t meet village guidelines.

Veuve_ClicquotNJ: I won’t laugh - one of the products our company sells is septic tanks and you wouldn’t believe what people do over them!

I previewed my last post and lost it so here’s a short version:

One of the difficulties I’m having is that I really love my neighbour. Her husband was Wilbert, one of my favourite people in the whole world and I miss him. I have written about him here but I don’t know how to connect the two stories.

Anyway, I’ve tried to find a way to discuss this with her and I just can’t. It’s not something she is doing, but I would just like some privacy. If you walk out her side door, across the asphalt driveway, you’re in my yard. I can see her side door from our sliding glass doors. That’s how close we are.

And, I’m afraid, if it gets to the point where she can’t take care of the house by herself any more, and sells, a young family with kids will move in and my yard is not exactly child friendly in that I have a pond, etc. It’s shallow but nevertheless I don’t want them access to it.

Hence I have turned to trusted Dopers for suggestions. A growing hedge will not grow fast enough to cover, as well there’s only about 8 feet from side of my house to the end of their driveway and I don’t want to plant anything with deep roots that close to my house. The fence is going to go kitty corner from the back corner of my house to the front edge of her chain link fence (about 30" high).

I live in an apartment that adjoins my landlords’ main house, and the common front yard used to be surrounded by a dilapidated but friendly white picket fence. The American dream, right? They’ve since gotten a stronger dog who probably wouldn’t try to get out, but could knock through the fence in some places. So they put up green wire fencing which isn’t so bad; it kind of disappears into the scenery. Only trouble is, they left up the falling-down wood fence.

They merely smiled at the suggestion that it was rather trailer park looking.

We’re down to just a section or two of dilapidated fence (stashed under the mulberry bushes). Ours was really bad. It was put up back when this 7 acre parcel was one lot. When the owner split it, the fence ended up on the neighbor’s property. They weren’t aware of it, evidently and asked us if they could tear it down. Of course we gave them permission! :wink:

I have a fence story that I almost posted myself a few weeks ago.

I live in a tract house neighborhood. My house is on a corner so I have a neighbor on one side and one in the back. Our yards back up to each other. I have owned the house since 1993. The house behind mine had been a rental for over twenty years and had been in crappy shape. It was one of the worst looking properties in the neighborhood but not all that bad in the relative scheme of things.

The house between our properties was built in the early 70’s and was falling apart. Around three years ago, I wanted to have it replaced so I called the owners and asked them if they would be willing to split the price if I would get a couple of estimates. They agreed, I got the estimates and soon afterward my now ex and I decided to split so the project got dropped.

Around a year ago, the owners booted the tenants and started to fix the place up to eventually move in. I met them face to face for the first time and told them about the divorce and that’s why I never followed up with the fence. I told them that I was still willing to do the deal if they wanted and the husband told me that he was going to be putting a lot of time and money into fixing up the house and that the fence was a low priority. Fair enough.

Weeks go by and they get the house looking amazing. Husband came up to me one day and told me that he wanted to do the fence afterall and he was going to buy the wood and have it built. I told him to let me know when they were going to do it so I would keep my dog in that day and to let me know the cost so that I could pay for half. He agreed.

Imagine my surprise when I came home from work one day and the fence was up. The old shitty fence was still up too and he built the new one so that I got the bad side instead of alternating like we agreed. WTF?

The good news is that I only have to pay for someone to demo the old fence which saves me money at least.

I’d like opinions on height. (This is a timely thread.)
The houses in my row and the ones behind us are placed so the side fences of one house hit the middle of the back fences of another. Thus, if one person wants a new fence, a lot of people can get involved.

Our fences now are six feet, and a bit worn, and a few months ago our back neighbor told us that she and our next door neighbor decided they needed new fences, so we needed to get one also. Which was fine, except our next door neighbor had already gotten part of his yard fenced, an expensive one six feet high with a two foot lattice. We thought this was a bit too high (we like our neighbors) but it turned out that he was willing to compromise so the fence was exactly what he had gotten already.

so the question - does an eight foot fence make your yard feel closed in? How do you feel about different heights?

The only plus about this situation is that the new fence will keep his damn ivy from invading my garden.

I wouldn’t bet on it. There were 8 foot fences at our apartment two apartments ago, and there was neighbor’s ivy everywhere. They had both climbing ivy and ground ivy, and the stuff is unstoppable.

I think whether or not the height is oppressive depends on how large the yard is. In our old tiny (15 feet by 10 feet) yard, it was horribly oppressive. Plus, I couldn’t grow a dang thing because of all the shade cast by the fences. In my mother’s 1/6 acre suburban lot, and 8 foot tall fence is a little off-putting, but having the top two feet open latticework would mitigate that a lot. In my father’s 16 acre wooded lot, an 8 foot fence is nothin’ at all.