The 2016 change that made the biggest impact was absolutely our new cedar fence. In only two days, it transformed the way our backyard feels: we have more privacy, better security, and a lot less alley trash blowing across our lawn.
Previously, our yard was more-or-less enclosed by a metal chainlink fence. The section you see leaning against the garage was what we removed from the alley (see my garage clean-up post).
I got bids from two reputable fencing contractors: they were comparable, and I chose to go with Advanced Fence because their quote was very detailed and they were remarkably responsive.
I selected a board-on-batten style (AKA “layered traditional”), where the cedar boards are slightly overlapped. This offers total privacy, even when the cedar contracts with age. The desire for privacy is why I ruled out a horizontal fence, although I prefer that modern look (see, for example, Deuce Cities Henhouse’s lovely fence). All totaled, the fence cost $5,175. That includes removal of the chainlink fence, labor, and materials. It was approximately 137 feet of fence, plus gates. If you’re thinking of doing a similar project, note that the gates do increase the cost more than simple linear fencing. This was a major check to write, and it was worth it.
In Chicago, as you can tell, houses are close to one another – and we have a lot that is 15′ wider than a standard Chicago lot. When you buy a house, you get a plat of survey that carefully details where your property lines are and what they include. Ours indicated that the chainlink fence on the south was on our property, but the north fence was on our neighbor’s. That meant we could build our fence right up next to the existing fence, but I suspected our neighbors would probably prefer to have it removed and enjoy the cedar fence instead.
I wrote a letter to both neighbors, informing them of our plans and the work dates, and Jarrod dropped them off along with a bottle of wine. The new fence was well-received by both families, and our northern neighbors pitched in $130 to have the chainlink fence removed from their property.
Fence installation day was really fun to watch – it was so nice having professionals handle everything with zero work on my part! They quickly removed the chainlink fence and got to work on setting the posts in concrete. They hauled the dirt to the north side of the house and spread it evenly along our foundation.
The entire fence was constructed onsite (some fencing companies bring in pre-made sections).
I chose to install large swinging gates in the back, so that we can open the fence for extra short-term parking and for ease of access when we do major house renovations down the road.
Before (looking south):
There are three other gates as well: one on either side of the house, and one next to the garage, which we use to exit the yard on bike or on foot.
Before (looking north):
And there you get a sneak peak of the next things we tackled: that deck is no more, and those dying bushes got upgraded.