Good Fences Make Bad Neighbors

For the most part, we’ve enjoyed our neighbors over the years and had good relations with them. But there’s always the exception. Like the septuagenarian widow next door who from the moment we moved in 12 years ago has viewed us at best as a modern-day reincarnation of the Adams Family and at worst as a clan of pesky rodents dead set on ruining her pristine, picture-perfect Southern Living magazine house and showcase yard.

Over the years, she’s accused us of various neighborly transgressions including damaging her sprinkler heads while mowing the property line (she actually has one sprinkler head on our property, and it’s never been damaged), mowing too far onto her property, not caring about or keeping a showcase lawn like hers (guilty!), our boys pelting her house with rotten apples when we first moved in 1995 (they were 6,4, and 2 at the time) and leaving a back patio light on which keeps her awake at night.

But the greatest transgression of all, according to her, has been our cracking and/or chewing of the slats on the wooden fence which separates our properties. I should clarify that by saying cracking allegedly from back yard soccer matches, chewing by Amazing Gracie the Wonderdog, not me or the boys.

We’ve tried to be nice and neighborly, responding to her occasional requests for help in lifting something heavy and delivering the usual sugar cookies at Christmas. But lately the boys haven’t been able to mow without being accosted by her with some critique or lecture on the finer points of mowing the property line.

To make matters more interesting, she recently came to us and asked for cash to help replace her fence. She had calculated the number of slats that she said we had cracked or chewed and said that she planned to replace the entire fence which borders our properties. We wondered about her calculations, but figured that our presence had resulted in some fence damage over the years, so we forked over the cash no questions asked in the interest of good neighborly relations.

The fence was replaced, and a few days later when Number Three Son fired up the lawn mower, the phone rang. It was our neighbor asking that we not mow within 6 inches or so of her new fence. We’ve known for years that her property line extends about that distance into our yard past the fence. But since we put up a smaller fence to hem in Gracie, we’ve always mowed that small section to save her and her lawn crew the trouble of coming through our fence and onto our property to take care of such a small and trivial portion of the yard.

Not anymore. Now we must be “on call” on the days that her lawn crew arrives to make sure that Gracie is put up so that they came come onto our property to get to her six inches of lawn. “Good fences make good neighbors?” I don’t think so.

Saturday, I let Amazing Gracie the Wonderdog outside to enjoy the balmy, low-humidity day. I looked out one time and she was basking in the sun and catching a few rays when suddenly the call of nature hit her full force. She wandered over to the fence, onto those six inches of grass, and sniffed about carefully. After picking out just the right spot, she squatted down low and took care of her business.

Was I wrong to scream “You go girl!” at the top of my lungs? I’m just asking.

  1. Terri


  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    It probably wasn’t one of my finer moments. But like the rest of humanity, I walk about on crumbly feet of clay.

  3. DAvid U

    If you have read my latest post, you KNOW I am all about Gracie being able to pee or poop where EVER she wants to outside!

    GO GRACIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  4. Mike the Eyeguy

    I hear you DU!

    All together now everyone:

    “Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above, Don’t fence me in
    Let me ride through the wide open country that I love, Don’t fence me in
    Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze
    And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
    Send me off forever but I ask you please, Don’t fence me in.”

  5. Alan gable

    Ah. Land disputes.
    Perhaps your 70-something “Wilson” would enjoy her view a bit better if you incorporated some “lawn art” into your landscaping portfolio. I would suggest starting with the tried and true pink flamingo and maybe add a granny fanny or two. If you have a sizeable tree, one could also consider the always popular leaning cowboy profile…

  6. Mike the Eyeguy

    Alan, you are soooo depraved and wicked! 🙂

    And creative too! I was thinking more along the lines of a soccer goal painted onto the new fence. “Goooooooal!” again and again and again.

  7. Carolinagirl

    I wonder why she chose to put that fence up in the first place. Usually fences are posted in order to keep people and animals out, not in.

    At least now she can blame the damaged wood on the people who mow the lawn and not on those that mow your’s.

    The joy of having neighbors…and fenced-in ones.

  8. Mike the Eyeguy

    The fence was there long before our arrival, and we’ve benefited from having it there. It’s just that it, and the grass, have always seemed secondary to me, primary to others.

  9. Laurie

    I would be happy to loan you Incontinentia the Wonderdog, my fifteen-year-old blind and deaf pup, for further incursions to improve neighborly goodwill. If you can just get her inside, she will make you proud.

  10. Mike the Eyeguy

    Incontinentia and Gracie would make quite a pair. Not to mention quite a mess.

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