Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Don't Fence Me In?

The first time I visited the East Coast (Philly suburbs), what made the biggest impression on me was not the Liberty Bell, but the fact that backyards weren't fenced (I was around 12 at the time). As someone who had grown up in California, I had never seen a home without a fence, let alone entire suburbs without them.

Many years later, this is still a very common practice out there. In fact, my sister-in-law is now renting a newer home in a very upscale neighborhood in the D.C. burbs, and there are no fences.

Aesthetically, the no-fence thing, is very pleasing since fences can vary in appearance significantly from neighbor to neighbor, and they also look terrible if not maintained. In California, a backyard without a fence is virtually unheard of. HOA's and CCnR's have evolved to reign in the use of a multitude of materials and styles.

Our backyard doesn't offer as much privacy as most. Some in my family think this is very odd/unusual. Perhaps because we spent so many years living on the East Coast we no longer saw backyard privacy as that essential. That said, we are in a very private little development, with limited access, so the only people driving by, are the ones who live her.

How do privacy requirements fit into your purchase criteria?


Ben S. said...

Privacy is very important to us. Like you said, most houses in California are fully fenced, but we also avoided neighborhoods with two story houses that could look into the backyard. I like to be able to relax in the backyard and I don't like the feeling of being in a fishbowl.

Alek Davis said...

He-he... We just got a row of two story homes built behind our back yard (on higher elevation), so we totally feel like being in a fishbowl. Planning to plant cypress trees to give us some privacy.

On the other hand, I'm not sure about the root of this feeling. It's not like we're planning nudist sessions in the back yard, and our new neighbors probably won't like being watched by us either. But regardless, I'd opt for as much privacy as I could get, although when it comes to other priorities, I'm willing to compromise.

One thing for sure: I hate the ugly fences. This was the first thing that struck me when I came to the U.S.A.: why would people have these rotting beasts surrounding their homes. How difficult is it to paint them, at least!

Buying Time said...

"On the other hand, I'm not sure about the root of this feeling."

Yes, when I asked others why they were so focused on backyard privacy, none had a very specific answer.

Perhaps its the "absence of judgement from others".

I still sit out on my deck in my pajamas. My theory is, if they don't want to see me, they shouldn't look =)

Deflationary Jane said...

I've noticed that when I get that fishbowl feelings, it's almost always in a treeless yard. Are we still subconsciously concerned about being picked off my large winged predators or is it more of a latent herding instinct telling you to now be out in wide open spaces alone or nearly alone?

Alek Davis said...

"I've noticed that when I get that fishbowl feelings, it's almost always in a treeless yard."

This is what I feel, too. We are in a brand new house with a totally empty yard. I suspect that once we plant trees and put some structures (e.g. gazebo), it will feel less fishbowl-like.

husmanen said...

I am split on this issue, it really depends on the lot.

I don't like when the house has bedrooms on the front side and they are at eye level or below the street. If the house is elevated then it is less of a matter in the front.

In the back, I would like privacy. Kind of like my own garden, not a community park.

I lived in Sweden and the UK as well as traveled through Europe visiting friends - no one had fences. The houses were close but there were plenty of social mores and unwritten rules that made it very enjoyable and no intrusive. Plus the weather kept most people inside at least 9 months out of the year.

Not sure why CA has such a culture. Always wondered why. Could it be our gold prospecting roots?