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kellienoelle

Partially fencing front of yard - ideas please!

kellienoelle
9 years ago

Hello, not sure if this is the right place to ask, but I know that there are certainly plenty of folks with a good design style to answer, so figured I would take advantage of that. 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....
{{gwi:54245}}

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?

Comments (34)

  • lynxe
    9 years ago

    Where, exactly, is your property line? Can you show or explain?

  • jmc01
    9 years ago

    To me, having such a wide open space is wonderful. Having it open encourages a sense of friendliness. Since you have dogs, I would propose a white picket fence but only around the backyard. When we bought our house, which is also a craftsman, it came with a fence right up to the front of the house. It looked horrible and we yanked it out the weekend after we closed.

    Less is better. No fence is the best!

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    Opinions of partially fencing front yard

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    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.
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    We put in a 2-rail fence with 2x4 wire to keep our dogs in. The wire is nearly invisible as you can see, or can't see, on the left of the house in this pic of my mulch pile.
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  • dedtired
    9 years ago

    What a pretty house and how nice to have access to land where you do not have to pay the taxes. If you go with a fence, I think a wooden craftsman style fence would look nice going across the front above the stone wall and down the side to the driveway. I presume you would have to stop at the driveway or you would need a gated driveway which would be a PITA.

    Have you considered an invisible electric fence for the dogs? Most dogs learn pretty quickly to stay inside their designated areas when they hear the warning from the collar. I have to say that the idea of a shock, even a mild one, is disconcerting. I have also seen dogs that are determined to get through them. The other problem is it doesn't keep people and other dogs out.

    If you fence off the yard that does not belong to you, would that encourage other people to use it as public space? Visually it may look like a spot for anyone to use.

    I think it would look perfectly fine to fence the front and the side next to the neighbors.

    Here is a link that might be useful: [Craftsman fences[(https://www.houzz.com/photos/craftsman-style-fence-phbr0lbl-bl~l_39928)

  • kellienoelle
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    We essentially have no backyard, so that is part of the problem. The front is pretty much the only option for fencing, and fencing with our dogs is pretty much a must for us. If it won't work with this particular house, then this house won't work for us.

    I would say that the property line is roughly on the other side of that big tree. If you look at the right side you will see about how much space there is between the houses (you can look at the neighbors fence as a property line) and it is pretty much mirrored on the other side. To the front, it goes all the way to the brick wall. They offered to have a surveyor come out and plot it out more definitely, but those are my "guess-timations".

  • roarah
    9 years ago

    Could you add an invisible fence for the dogs? Lovely house!

  • susieq07
    9 years ago

    whichever you choose, look for PVC or cast alum. unless you enjoy constant maintinance or painting. Wood rots and rodiron rusts

  • Vertise
    9 years ago

    That's a good point about a fence inviting the public to play in the side yard and I would not trust an electric with those roads so close.

    I think you could make something that enhances the house. I'd get a reputable landscape designer to work on it though.

  • kellienoelle
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    We talked about invisible fencing and it may be something to consider. Problem is that on the other side is a boulevard that gets some traffic so if they bust through it to chase a motorcycle, that could end poorly. Granted they are 12 and 13 years old, but it is still a concern.

    As far as people using the non fenced area, I don't think that they would because it seems to be a part of the yard because the driveway runs through it. Here is another pic to give some perspective of the configuration of the driveway because you can't see it so well from the front view. That is the area where I think some nice landscaping would help to tie it all together. This pic was taken standing at the corner of the driveway and the sidewalk
    {{gwi:54246}}

    Thanks for the thoughts and link to the Craftsman style fences. I like the options and think you could tie it in better with the house by doing something on the large front porch by adding railings to help to tie it together.

  • daisychain01
    9 years ago

    Gorgeous home and all that space - yowza.

    I would really consider posting this on the landscaping forum. I know they have a cranky reputation, but as long as you respond kindly to their suggestions and don't disappear after asking your question, they are incredibly helpful.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    9 years ago

    I would fence in the back yard up to the driveway and wrap it around the side of the house, back from the front facade. That would probably be enough yard for shelties and still give your house that open look from the front and make it look like it all belongs to you to discourage "squatters".

    If you really want to do it, you can fence across the driveway to include the entire back yard....PITA if you have to open the gate manually, but you could always add an electric gate.

  • allison0704
    9 years ago

    Lovely home. I can certainly picture the front yard fenced in, since the town where I grew up had many houses with fenced in front yards. Most were wrought iron, but some were short picket fences.

    Here is one I found online with the fence set back a bit, so that plantings can soften/hide the fence/wall. Depends on if you really want to garden and/or loose any front yard for the dogs:

    White painted fence:

    Small planting area, notice wooden post set down lower for fence at bottom of stairs. ??

    White fence:

    Other examples:


    Less obtrusive, but not correct style for your home:

    Wrought iron:

  • kellienoelle
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    The house looks big in the photos, but it actually feels pretty cozy on the inside. I am guessing it is maybe 2200 sq ft? So roomy but not oppressive (for our lifestyle anyway). I will definitely cross post on the landscaping forum. My mother suggested getting a landscape designer's opinion and since I don't frequent that forum, I didn't realize that was an option here. Got to love GW!

    Allison - thanks so much for the pics! Lots of great options in there. I like the ones with the low shrubs either in front or behind to "soften" the look. Like you, I am used to seeing houses with small fenced in front yards (thinking of the row houses in DC neighborhoods in particular) so the look to me doesn't seem "closed off" but can see how others would think so. Regarding fencing the back, I would be surprised if there is even 3 feet back there between the garage and the property line. I mentioned it as a possibility to my husband, just doing the back and wrapping around the right side yard to tie into neighbors fence(there is an external door over there) and leaving the front open. It wouldn't be a lot of space, but would give the dogs a place to do their thing. He didn't really like the idea, but it is always a option. I wouldn't consider running a fence across the driveway, seems like it would be very cumbersome!

  • lynxe
    9 years ago

    You might not like my suggestion very much, but when we had dogs, we always walked them & never let them out by themselves. Is there any reason why you and/or your husband couldn't simply do the collar and leash option?

    Because, while I think those images of fences are just beautiful, I also think one of the features that makes your house look so special is the double lot, even if much of it really isn't your property.

  • kellienoelle
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    We do walk them daily once or twice, and to be honest that is an idea that we are tossing around. When we first got the dogs we didn't have a fenced in yard so that was our only option and they got 3 daily walks which was great to help burn off some of the sheltie energy. For the past 8 years we have been enjoying having a yard for quick let outs, so frankly we got spoiled. The dogs are also older and slowing down, but that just means that the walks don't have to be lengthy.

    The dogs also like a game of fetch on the yard, but I suppose there are plenty of parks around to do that in if the yard isn't an option. And like I said, they are getting older so the fetch games that used to end only when the humans got tired are getting shorter too.

  • Olychick
    9 years ago

    Here is one I found with some shrubs to soften it. I don't think I'd worry at all about the space beyond it being used by others if you landscape it with things that will tie it into the fenced area. If it visually looks the same as your fenced yard, I think folks will assume you own it all. You might consider putting a gate to that area with an arbor, so it looks like an entrance for you to the unfenced area, maybe a path to a little bench or something that indicates it is used by the residents of your house.

    {{!gwi}}

  • prairiemom61
    9 years ago

    Beautiful property, but please get it surveyed. The stone retaining wall leads me to think the property may consist of more land than you think. Surveys solve a lot of headaches! Don't go by what the PO says, or the neighbors, or even the realtor.

  • Vertise
    9 years ago

    Good observation on the wall!

  • Olychick
    9 years ago

    here's one more pic that makes it clear only part of the yard is fenced and that portion outside of the fence is part of the property. I think you could pull it off nicely.

    [Traditional Exterior design[(https://www.houzz.com/photos/traditional-exterior-home-ideas-phbr1-bp~t_736~s_2107) by Denver Architect KGA Studio Architects

  • bronwynsmom
    9 years ago

    There is no reason not to divide your yard into two areas with a simple fence across half of the front, as long as it isn't too high, which you say is a possibility.

    Lots of elegant houses have yards that are broken up by fencing, to create areas and garden rooms, and a carefully designed fence with good landscaping on both sides would look just fine. It's actually a little friendlier NOT to fence the whole yard, in my view.

  • Sujafr
    9 years ago

    Be sure to also check the CC&R's for that neighborhood. Ours does not allow any fencing in front of the house. Fencing has to stop behind the most forward house corner.

  • allison0704
    9 years ago

    Can you get any kind of variance, so that you can fence in the yard on the house side of driveway? Seems like the town might be open to it, since the driveway is where it is, and they aren't really going to do anything with the land on the house side of drive. If not a variance, will they sell you the land? Worth a shot. Make it a plus for them - they could use the money to ABC elsewhere.

  • kellienoelle
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Good thoughts from all. We did see other houses in the area with fences surrounding the yard, so I don't think that they prohibit fencing the front yard. I appreciate all the pictures too, it helps to visualize. I love the idea of having a arbor a path to a bench. If we do indeed get this house, I think we can make it look really nice with the help of a landscape architect, so aren't so scared about that anymore.

    prariemom - what are you referring to with the retaining wall concerns?

  • peegee
    9 years ago

    Lovely home, and some great suggestions. My fear would be that the town could decide to take the land back. Would you have any guarantee? Would you and your investment be protected? Is the lot big enough to be a buildable lot?

  • prairiemom61
    9 years ago

    I see that the stone retaining wall extends along the sidewalk past your possible property line. I'm curious as to how that wall was built both on private property and on city property. Maybe I misunderstood your description that your property line ends just a few feet past the house, similar to the amount of land on the other side of the house. In any case, I would take them up on their offer to have it surveyed before you make an offer.
    I really like the fence picture that Olychick posted.

  • judithn
    9 years ago

    I agree with the poster who said check your property line. You should not go into a house purchase without knowing exactly where the lines are. This is important. Also, is there a homeowner association in your neighborhood? They might have rules about fencing placement. Our HOA in our historic neighborhood forbids fences in front yards or side yards. Fences can only be placed in rear yards. The HOA also demands fences be made of specific materials. They only recently added aluminum fencing as an option. Even if you don't have an HOA the park department that owns the contiguous land may have rules about what you can and can't do on land neighboring their land. I would check into this and GET IT IN WRITING. There may be municipal codes you need to check too. Our municipality (town) has rules about fences and whatnot. Fences in our towns need to be permitted by zoning department. Woe to those who skip this step! They are fined and in some cases have to remove the fence. Don't trust your realtor's take on this. Don't trust the seller's assurances. Get all the documentation -- there are probably property maps at the tax office and the zoning office can also help guide you.

  • bronwynsmom
    9 years ago

    Something else occurs to me...why is part of your yard city property? Is there a plan somewhere that will lead to widening of your street into that part of the yard? If so, you can probably kiss your investment, and your quality of life, goodbye.

    Make sure of all those things before you offer.

  • kellienoelle
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    I have another thread going about the easement issue which I'll link, but the short story of it is that there used to be several streets which all converged right there, creating a bit of a traffic nightmare. In 1990, the city decided to take out a through street, cutting off part of the access to the Boulevard to change the traffic patterns. They put in some green space instead and connected the Trolley Trail that I had mentioned earlier. Well, that street removed was the one that this house exited onto which basically landlocked the house. So they allowed the driveway to cross the property, put in some nice shrubs to block the driveway from the little greenspace and sidewalk that they made. The contract with the city which I had reviewed by my lawyer BIL looks ok according to him, it is in place for at least the next 50 years (at which point I will either be dead or senile).

    I do have a property plot map, but not the specifics starting and ending spots on the property line (I probably could have gotten out a tape measure but didn't). But I still think getting a surveyor to measure it out would be helpful to clear up a lot of questions. Here is the plot map, if you have any specific questions I can tell you what everything is, the house is the one on the end of the street on Brookside (this does not show the new garage which has been added):

    Regarding the fence, no HOA, but I think the city does have some restrictions. So that will be worth looking into as well. It was suggested that we could ask for a variance if it isn't allowed.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Link to easement thread

  • judithn
    9 years ago

    Just FYI, asking for a variance does not mean you will be granted a variance. If you are not granted a variance and decide to pursue it further you will probably end up in Zoning Hearing Court. That's how it works in my town. Zoning Hearing Court may rule in your favor BUT they may also decide to uphold the town's case against granting your variance. Some people represent themselves in Zoning Hearing Court but often people choose to hire lawyers so you could end up sinking money into your variance that may or may not be worth it. Personally, I would never purchase a property with the idea that I would receive a variance which would allow me to do what I want with the property. It's just too risky and you may not receive the permission you want.

  • kellienoelle
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Just looked at the city ordinances and the only restriction is a max height of 48 inches, so looks like I'm OK. I had seen on the front of other houses, so was hopeful it wouldn't be an issue. Nothing specific about materials either.

  • prairiemom61
    9 years ago

    I love Brookside, it is a wonderful neighborhood. I hope you can get the survey, and make your offer!

  • kellienoelle
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Prairiemom - I should have realized that you were local by your user name! Do you live in the area too? I am currently in the suburbs of Johnson County but so looking forward to making the move to Brookside!

  • prairiemom61
    9 years ago

    Yes, we live in NE KS. We are rural, though two DD live in older neighborhoods in JoCo. They really like it there, avoided the suburbs.

  • badgergal
    9 years ago

    Kellie, Can't believe you are moving and leaving behind the gorgeous kitchen remodel you completed not to long ago.
    Love the way this new possibility looks on the outside. I bet its full of character inside too. Good luck to you.
    Also, I think something like olychick posted would look fantastic. Sounds like you are real dog lovers and will probably have new additions to the family when your senior dogs move on to the rainbow bridge. So it is wise to plan for that fencing now.

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