01/28/2012 03:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

On the Fence

By Ron Radziner

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall, that wants it down... " -- Robert Frost, Mending Wall

When designing a home, I generally believe the fewer walls the better so I encourage people to take risks in favor of more openness. When designing a landscape, I believe this same principle applies so I marvel at the lengths, or shall I say heights, that people will go to shield their backyard from the eyes of others. Even the suggestion of a transparent, wire mesh fence in combination with greenery is often met with stone faced refusal. High walls divide both yards and neighborhoods as they create a feeling of separateness rather than togetherness.

To further illustrate my point, I would like to share my friend's story of five children versus the backyard fence. There were three kids in one family and two kids next door. First, the children convinced their parents to chainsaw a hole in the 6'-0" vertical planks separating the two yards. But once the free movement of pets, kids and picnics ensued, the parents had second thoughts and boarded up the portal.

Next, the kids risked splinters and broken bones as they shimmied up the planks and flung their little bodies down where the grass was greener. Fearing an accident, again the parents discouraged the children from scaling the wall. Finally, the kids enlisted the support of an adjacent birch tree, transforming it into a ladder and perch that allowed them not only to surmount the fence but also to survey all the backyards near and far. High in the branches, they arrived at their next request, namely, to tear down all the backyard fences between five adjacent properties in order to create one giant community backyard.  


Climbing the Backyard Fence, Toronto, ON. Photo: Marmol Radziner


The Green Fence, Venice, CA. Photo: Marmol Radziner