Mending Fences, Emptying Wallets

Posted on July 3, 2012. Filed under: Dog, Gardening, Home |

Can I let you in on a little secret? We haven’t really spent much money on our house since we bought it last June. Well, relatively speaking. Sure, we’ve completed small projects here and there. We’re slowly buying nice, adult furniture for our living room. But we expected that to be an investment and talked ourselves into it for at least a few months. After 11 months of being home owners, we finally got our first taste of “We need to get this done and holy moley it costs a lot!” I guess we should consider ourselves fortunate that it took that long.

We need a fence in our backyard for Mason Dixon Doodle Dandy. Our backyard is on the large side which is good for puppy, but bad for our wallets when we want to install a fence. Boo.

A previous home owner (I doubt it was the most recent one), put this wooden fence up for privacy.

It certainly wasn’t for a dog. Look at the bottom. Mason can walk right under it and he knows it. The fence doesn’t connect to the chain link either. From what we can gather, this fence was installed for privacy. It sure doesn’t function to keep things in or out. The top lattice part blocks the neighbors’ kitchen window so they can’t see us when we’re on our deck and we can’t see them. Classy.

We decided to go with it, though. In order to adapt it for our needs, Adam purchased green vinyl coated hog wire at Lowes and stapled it to the bottom of the fence on the opposite side. I used landscaping pins to secure the bottom portion into the ground. We planted a line of 7 variegated Pittosporum shrubs along the fence. Our hope is that once they are mature, they will block the hog wire. Why hog wire? It seemed like the easiest and cheapest fix for this fence that was 2.5 feet above the ground in some places. We bought green thinking it would blend in more. And it does. You can barely see it once you’re 10+ feet away from it. If we had added more wood at the bottom, it never would have looked right. At least with this method, it’s subtle, it keeps Mason in, and the bushes will conceal it one day.

We paid a fencing company to do the rest and we are not ashamed. We entertained the idea of doing the front wooden part ourselves, and when I say “ourselves”, I mean my husband and father. However, we soon realized that if we were already paying a company to do the rest of it, and they were going to be at our house, and could knock it out in 2 days, it was probably worth it to pony up a couple more hundred dollars to save us the headache and to ensure it would look good. For us, we would have to dig the holes and set the posts one weekend and wait another weekend to install the fence – a minimum of one week. Let’s be real. All of our projects take longer than that. So using a highly scientific method to determine our DIY timeframe, I projected it would take us 3-4 weeks to finish the fence. That’s too long to wait when you have a rambunctious puppy that needs a safe space to run.

The front, left side is getting a double gate and needs to be reinforced with a steel frame on the inside.

On the right side, we sort of have this chute where water run-off from the driveway comes around the side of the house. The previous homeowners installed a French drain in the parking pad that is connected to this ditch from the sewer. Any water that does not enter the drain runs around the side of the house through the pea gravel, and this “bowl”, and ends up in the backyard.

We needed professionals that could work with the weird grading of the ground and build a fence that would keep our dog inside. I can say that it was totally worth it to hire out for this job. And this is coming from the girl that wouldn’t hesitate to tackle a DIY bathroom re-do or the majority of a DIY kitchen renovation.

We decided to use black chain link across the back. The neighbors to the right have black chain link and it looks really nice. It blends in more than aluminum. The split rail fence you see in the picture above is the neighbor’s behind us and it runs at an angle to our property line because their lot is pie-shaped and off of a cul-de-sac. It would never function as a dog fence for us. We have a lot of trees in the back of our lot. During the spring, summer, and fall it is nearly impossible to even see the chain link. We paid to have our neighbor’s chain link repaired on the left side and both neighbors had no problem with us connecting to their existing fences. So all we had to pay for was:

  1. 6 ft. wooden dog ear fencing on right side with standard walk gate
  2. 6 ft. wooden dog ear fencing on left side with double gate, reinforced by steel frame on inside
  3. 127 ft. of 5 ft. black chain link in the back with one walk gate
  4. Repair neighbor’s existing chain link on left side

I’ll be honest (and possibly tacky) and tell you how much it cost: $2455. That was after a couple of estimates that were all in the same ballpark. We chose the company based on the representative we met and because they had a glowing recommendation from a co-worker.

It’s a lot of money, but in the grand scheme of home improvements it’s really not that bad. Residential fences have an average ROI of 50-75% and when you’re talking about $2500, it does not matter too, too much when it comes to resale value.

Here are some pictures of the completed work. We still need to spread A LOT of pine straw and we’ll eventually stain the wooden fence. That humongous stick pile in the before pictures is gone as of this weekend. It was an eyesore.

The left side double gate from the inside

The right side on the inside

The right side on the outside

Back with walk gate. We put our compost back here and wanted a way to get to it.

At the back gate after a torrential downpour. Yes, we need to bury some drain pipes and put down some river rock to help with the water issue. It’s on the list.

I think Mason has mixed emotions about the new fence. On the one hand paw, he loves to be “free” in the backyard where he can run without the confines of a leash. On the other, he shot right for the gap below the fence before the hog wire was installed. He knew he was fenced in and he knew exactly where to get out. You should’ve seen that dog the first time we let him out after we installed the hog wire. I’ve never seen him hit the brakes so fast once he realized his escape route was blocked.

It’s worth noting that we did get an estimate for an invisible fence and we thought it was a riot. Sure, it may be good for some people, but it costs about the same – if not more over the life of your pet – than a physical fence. Not only do they charge you around $1300 for the wire (that was our estimate), you have to buy special batteries for the collars every 6 months to a year that cost around $50 a piece. Ridiculous. So if your dog lives to be 12 years old and needs a $50 battery every 6 months, you’re adding another $1200 to your fence price. The special collars are an additional expense. Not to mention that dogs do break out of invisible fences. I imagine it’s a lot easier to break out of an invisible fence than a physical one. Plus, metro Atlanta has this little infestation problem known as coyotes. The invisible fence won’t keep them out and I don’t want my Labradoodle to be Wiley’s dinner. And finally, the ROI on an invisible fence is, oh, around 0% versus 50-75% for a physical fence. Can you tell we were unimpressed with the invisible fence? I understand some people really don’t want a fence or they have strict HOA covenants, so invisible is the only way to go. Luckily for us, we don’t have an HOA to please. Thank goodness!

We are thrilled with our fence. It gives us all a little more freedom now. Adam and I can do yard work with Mason and not have to worry if he’s going to run across the street. Mason likes to “help” us a little too much, but I’d rather have him be up in our business than 2 blocks over where the Doberman lives.

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