Opinions of partially fencing front yard

kellienoelleDecember 30, 2012

Hello, I am cross posting this from the home forum per recommendation. I agree that it seems more of a landscape design question which is certainly not my forte so I am seeking opinions.

We are thinking of putting an offer in on a new house. The house is a 1914 Craftsman that has been recently renovated. They also added in a 2 car attached garage to the side/back of the house which is now taking up where the backyard used to be. We have dogs so have a requirement of adding a fence. With this house, the only option is fencing in the front. We have older medium sized dogs (Shelties) so wouldn't have to worry about them jumping over a shorter picket or wrought iron type fence. I figure there should be a way to even enhance the look of the front yard with the right fence.
However, this is further complicated by the property line. While it looks like a sizeable side yard with a curved driveway, the majority is actually owned by the City Parks and Rec Dept and the driveway is on an easement. We are free to use it, garden it, landscape it, etc. But no fixed structures like a fence. So adding one would pretty much be cutting the yard in half. And a pic so you can see what I am talking about.... a view from the front and from the side

So the fence could be placed a few feet to the left side of the house (to encompass that large tree) up to the front wall, and around the right side roughly to where you see the neighbor's fence on the right. The size would be adequate for the dogs, but I can't wrap my head around how it would look to basically divide the yard in half. On the plus side it would be symmetrical and I am a sucker for symmetry. With some landscaping on that side yard, maybe it could work. Any thoughts? I scoured the internet for images of partially enclosed yards but couldn't find anything similar. Or is it just time to go back to the drawing board with the house hunt?

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I have no doubts the fence scheme could be made to work, but it may require compromises in the future that are not yet knowable. What you do depends on the housing market. How in love with this home are you and what else is on the market? What's the likelihood of something even better coming along? My thought is that it's better to avoid a purchase that has issues, if the market will allow. But only you can weigh the odds of the local market.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 8:21PM
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kellie, have you considered dog containment via an electric fence? I'd think this a great solution. Your doggies could have the run of your entire property. It's definitely a DIY project if you wish. Wiring is placed after trenching (not deep) and can be run in expansion joints in the driveway. I installed one years ago and found it very reliable. There is a training curve after installation with the dogs on leads.

This is a wonderful looking home.

Another big plus: your shelties could hang out on the back covered porch if it's raining.

HTH, Rosie

Here is a link that might be useful: Doggie electric fences

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 5:55AM
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Thank you for the responses. I had considered an electric fence, and may still consider further if I can't find a fence design that works. My biggest fear with that is what would happen if the dogs chase after a motorcycle and break through the electric fencing, that street is a boulevard that gets a fair bit of traffic. So that is very concerning to me. In addition, my dogs are barkers but gentle as pussy cats. I would worry how people and dogs passing by would react to two crazy barking dogs that look like they are unfenced.

Yardvark, we have done a fair bit of looking and there is a challenge to pretty much every house that we have looked at, so it comes down to where you are willing to compromise. We have decided that there is enough we love about this one to try to work around this fence thing. In the back of my head I just think that there is something that can be done that may possibly even enhance the house with the right style, right landscaping.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 7:31AM
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Training the dogs is key here. And you could limit the fencing to the back of the property.

Signage in the form of small plaques will notify folks that you have a hidden fence. They're about the size of the ones burglar alarm companies stick in the ground. They are also helpful in letting animal control know you are obeying leash laws.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 7:39AM
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There is no back yard in this particular house, well very minimal. Maybe three feet around the back and right side. And also complicating things is that there is a very popular trail running behind the property that is commonly used for running, biking, dog walking. I know my dogs, they'll go crazy with the sight of all those people in "their yard". If we fenced the back for the dogs, we'd have to do a taller privacy fence. Which again, isn't off the table if the front yard thing doesn't work.

The house really is great, but the yard does have challenges, particularly since we are moving from the suburbs to a more urban area. Which we are trying to embrace! If worst comes to worst, we could remain fenceless and go the old collar and leash option. Great way to meet the neighbors, right?

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 8:15AM
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Here is an image of the property line so maybe you can get a clearer image of what I am poorly describing. The house is the last one on Brookside Blvd. Since this was drawn up a two car garage has been added onto the back of the house, taking up pretty much the entire backyard. This shows the driveway on the city property, that we are free to landscape but can't place any permanent features on. What runs behind the house is the trail I was referring to. The darker gray lines are sidewalks. It is pretty much green space from "our" house up until 59th street, but everything past that sidewalk is landscaped and maintained by Parks and Rec.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 8:55AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Looking at that street plan, it looks like that 15x47.1 area that extends beyond the rear lot line is likely an addition to your property - maybe you have a bigger backyard than you think! My BIL's lot is like that - land behind them was up for development but the neighbours were offered the chance to buy some of the land immediately abutting their property. BIL did that, so his lot looks a bit like what I'm seeing on that street plan view.
Maybe the properhy owner at the time that walking trail was made, bought some of the land.... If you haven't alreadty, check that out first.

I think it would be possible to make an attractive front fenced area if the backyard option isn't feasible. I'd start by shaping a lawn area by mirroring the curve of the driveway onto the opposite side, which would produce a sort of oval lawn with pointed ends :-) Then leave a straight line from the porch to the street as a wide entrance walkway; fence along that, follow along the curved propertly line, to the garage. I'd use a 4' black ornamental iron or aluminium fence, with a gate halfway along the entrance walk and another at the garage end (or by a sidedoor if there is one...) I'd plant a mixed border along the fence by the walkway, continuing along the house, with shade-tolerant vines to grow on the fence side. You'd have roughly triangular area between the shaped lawn and the fenced area. I'm not sure where the tree is exactly - hopefully in that triangular area! There would be a small clear area in the center of the fenced area - lawn if it would grow; otherwise a low tough groundcover that would tolerate the dogs. It could be quite interesting - let green and white dominate the colors in the plantings - that's the easiest color combination in shade and always looks cool and restful. I'd draw what I mean except my computer with the scanner died last week and I haven't got a new one yet :-)

I do not like those electric dog fences - I think they are cruel, especially for sensitive dogs like shelties! So, IMO any option is better than that.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 10:59AM
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Maybe you are right about the property line in the back. It looks like it parallels that street, so that should give us a nice visual clue until it can be surveyed. Your very informative idea certainly does give me hope that one way or the other, this can be done in an attractive way that suits the house, and maybe even enhances it. I am trying to visualize the fence line as you described. This is why I definitely need a landscape designer, I think in straight lines (haha).

My mind is eased, I am off to make an offer on this house that just screams at me to buy it. Hopefully I will be back with happy news and more pleas for help.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 2:28PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

A wrought iron open picket fence painted black could easily be placed within your set-up without visually cutting off the general open feeling. It could also be an opportunity to switch out some of the lawn for shrubs/ground cover/perennials to tie a new fence layout into the overall landscape. I'd suggest a fence style compatible with the house style rather than cheaper motel pool surround fence style.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 2:59AM
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