Urban Garden Denver Blog

How much privacy?

What kind of fences do you see in your neighborhood? The American standard fence is the 6 foot privacy fence, I guess because we like to sit by ourselves in our backyards and pretend that we are all alone in the world. Most of the fences in my neighborhood fit that description.

My neighbor across the street grew up in the home that she now lives in with her family. She said when she was little, all the yards had low fences and you could talk across the fences in the back yard. You could even wave to a neighbor several yards down. When people started remodeling the bungalows or scraping them off and building new houses, they added tall fences.

When we were replacing a leaning fence in our backyard, we decided on a compromise. Since our yard was so small, we felt like a tall fence all around would feel like a prison, but we wanted to pretend we had some privacy on our patio, even though the neighbors windows look right down on us. So we angled the fence from 4 feet to 6 feet tall. We also alternated the pickets,so the fence didn’t make a solid wall.

There is an urban etiquette of living in close spaces. If we have friends over or our neighbors have friends over, we pretend we can’t hear every conversation in the back yard. But if it is a casual time, we can move to the lower part of the fence and chat.

I find our quest for privacy interesting because I suspect most of us are a bit lonely at times, but we don’t want to appear to need relationship with our neighbors, so we sit behind our fences.

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