rental backyard: the old fence (part 4)

falling-down backyard fence

Though I'd planned to talk about the new deck steps and giant picnic table, the entire deck is now covered not only with buckets, tools, and miscellany but also with leaf and twig debris from the recent rainstorms. It would be unfeeling to complain about rain when not just the Southwest but even the Northwest has been burning up all summer, though the impression of fall-come-early mirrors our atypical blazing start to the summer season in June. These are abnormal geographical times.

In any case, the next phase of the backyard upgrade will be rebuilding the original fence, which, as clear from the photos, is falling apart. One of the panels actually blew over into the back neighbor's yard during a windstorm last weekend and onto their vegetable patch. (Oops. Sorry!)

fence view into the back neighbor's garden (August 19, 2015)

Of course, being all about secondhand reuse, I would have preferred to salvage the weathered fence slats and only put in new structural posts and cross-beams, but the wood is 30 years old and rotting and so just needs to come down, though I'll miss the lichen and mossy bits on the silvered wood. The slats can probably be repurposed for something else.

mossy backyard fence

leaning fence with lichen

Sadly, our mellow Vietnam-vet neighbor has moved out and over to eastern Oregon (his house over there almost burned down just prior to moving in, and he did lose some outbuildings to the fire that swept through the canyon). His side of the fence is just as crooked as ours. And the divider between yards is also partway down. Who knows? We could have kids and a dog moving in next door, which would only underline the need for a stronger fence. "Good fences make good neighbors," exhorts the classic Robert Frost poem, and though the author himself questions the maxim, it's often true, if not between countries, at least in crowded suburbia, where most of us would like a little more privacy.

The plus side of our neighbor's moving out, though, is that the landlord has been coming around lately in efforts to spruce up and rent the unit. So we've been able to talk to him in person about the fence, and—maybe because he could see firsthand its wide gaps like missing teeth—he's agreed it needs fixing, even bringing us the first load of new fence posts and a bag of cement.

Jeff did volunteer for the job, which he may regret, but we just wanted it done—because until it's done, we can't do any landscaping, which would include placing some kind of pavers for the patio table and grills. So he and a friend took down the rest of the back fence the other day, opening up our yard to the neighbor's yard. (Hello, neighbors!)  Unfortunately, the showers this weekend haven't been cooperating for post-hole digging and cement mixing. So we might take care of a few indoor projects while waiting for the rain to let up.

east-side yard-divider fence

east-side divider fence with trailing ivy

While we both like the more modern-style horizontal-slat fences, there's already a lot of horizontal going on in the backyard with the slatted deck and matching picnic table. Fortunately, the landlord says we can pick whichever fence design we like, as long as it doesn't require more wood than a basic fence. As usual, simple for me would be best.

Missed the earlier posts in the Rental Backyard series documenting our backyard fix-up? Check out . . .
Part 1: The Tangled Mess
Part 2: Down to Dirt
Part 3: New Old Deck

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