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Old 18-06-2008, 08:10 PM posted to
JimR JimR is offline
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First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Jul 2006
Posts: 122
Default Neighbor Fence Problem/Question?? Shorter question, longer reply!!

"MICHELLE H." wrote in message ...

Will the bottom of the fence rot out from having 2-3
feet of topsoil up against it, on our our side of the fence??

If we want to be the good neighbors, and put a piece of wood there like
he said, up against his fence, and then refill it again, what type of
wood should we use??


Any suggestions and advice would greatly be appreciated!!

A few thoughts but no advice or conclusions. I'll take it on faith that the ditch is actually 2' deep--

Short answer -- an unreinforced ditch 2' high will wash out in the next heavy rain. You haven't solved the problem with light fill and grass seed. This is a safety hazard and code violation. To reinforce it will probably require a retaining wall, building permit and engineering inspection. Tell your insurance company and suggest that your neighbor contact his insurance company to make sure he is protected.

Other comments:

-- Yes, burying part of a wooden fence will rot away the wood and could be a path for termites. If I had spent a lot of money on wooden fence panels I'd be upset if a neighbor piled up dirt on the outside.

-- You can use PT#1 wood for places in contact with the ground, but how would you shore up the side of the ditch without crossing into his property?

-- Technically, if the fence is inside his property line, you had no right to pile dirt up against it -- it's not your property.

-- The ditch might be classified by a lawyer as an "attractive nuisance", making him liable if someone outside was injured by falling into the ditch or getting caught under the fence.

-- I have a certain amount of sympathy for a homeowner trying to grow a garden that is regularly invaded by the neighbors' kids, soccer balls, deer, etc.

-- City inspectors hate getting involved in these sorts of personal disputes, and ultimately it's up to each homeowner to either get along with their neighbors or just ignore them.

-- If you're in a homeowners' association, the association should have given approval for the fence -- I gather from your post that you're not in an association.

-- Code enforcement probably has rules about fences, turfed areas and drainage that are being violated. If you take your complaint to code enforcement, they may find the fence/ditch violates their ordinances and force him to fill it in.

-- Code enforcement might also cite him for improper (backwards) fence installation, but what good does that do you? It doesn't solve the ditch problem and just makes it that much harder to get some cooperation.

-- Do any of the neighbors on the other two sides of his property have the same problem? Then you could make a united approach that would depersonalize the conflict to some extent

-- Do fences in your area require a building permit? Did he get one?

-- Your neighbor probably has friends in the neighborhood, hopefully that you get along with better. Can you appeal to them in a way that indicates that you would like to solve the problem without being confrontational.

-- From your post, a large part of your problem appears to be that both you and your neighbor care a lot about the precise location of your property line. Also, that your children have fairly routinely crossed that line into his yard, leaving them vulnerable to claims of damaging his garden.

-- Can you go back to your neighbor, after some reflection, in a calmer manner and try to get some cooperation in something that would protect his garden yet keep your children safe? How about filling in the ditch, reseeding, moving the fence to the property line, with the bottom of the fence close enough to grade so that balls, etc. can't roll through, but high enough so that the wood stays intact. You agree to maintain your side, he his side.

-- Failing that, why not install your own (chain link?) fence at the property line. You've got all your yard, the children are protected from the ditch, and except for an occasional high lob, the soccer balls will stay out of his garden --

I once had a similar fastidioous and demanding neighbor -- ultimately I handled it by using advice from a radio talk show host -- when dealing with him I just stayed "Cheerful and stupid." It kept me calm and probably aggravated him more than anything else I could do --