Neighbors say no to fence... need HELP with fast growing barrier

sommer(5)February 23, 2003

We just moved into a home in Missouri, and our neighbors vetoed our idea for a fence. We are now working with someone to help us with this problem, however, I am in need of ideas for fast growing hedges or barriers. I have pets and need to keep them in our yard. I need approximately 400 feet of barrier. 190 feet can be tall and 210 can be say approximately 6 foot or taller.

It needs to grow QUICKLY. Our yard is large and also backs to a very busy street. We want to keep our pets and kids in and other dogs out. We want privacy from our neighbors and the main thing is price and how quickly it to a height of 6 foot or more.

We live in Missouri.


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Bill_MO(z6 MO)

My neighbors don't get a vote on my fencing choices. I think we already answered this all last week. Hedges are not going to keep your dogs and kids in or other dogs out.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2003 at 12:39PM
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I'd opt for "Amur Privet" very fast growing and if you "top prune it every year, it gets very dense.I have a long row up the driveway, that been ther 3 yrs, 6-7 ft. tall, and that's after I topped it twice. Don't knoew how well it would do for barrier to kids and dogs, guess it depends on how curious, or stubborn either of those critters would be.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2003 at 2:40PM
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Neighbors can be such a pain! I've loved having our backyard fenced for our kids safety mainly. Is it in your contract that your can't have a fence? We have a large yard too, about 1 1/2 acres but our fence is not on our property line. We only fenced an area straight behind our house. Maybe a smaller fenced in area could be an option for you. You could still plant shrubs out closer to your property line for privacy. Are you fencing in your whole yard or just your backyard? If you do just your backyard, your fence only needs three sides and that would save you a bunch.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2003 at 3:37PM
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palyne(Zone 6a NE OK)

There are things that are merely barriers, not fencing. Cattle panel doesn't require any permanent installation and has 4" squares for direct wind through, so I am not sure they'd have the right to veto that (I question their right to veto anything short of special circumstance, but that's not my business).

Another idea: Buy or build a ton of thin trellis, if necessary hold it in with short stacks of cinder block every few feet. Stick a few seed packets around.

For either of those two ideas above, when they complain about (a) the fence and (b) how ugly it is, tell them it is NOT a fence, it is a TRELLIS for your big garden! lol.

That fastest growing vine I know of to help a trellis screen in is hops. (Like they use in beer.) Not permanent, but about in season now and very fast.

If the very-large-yard-wide-trellis doesn't work, and they insist it come down, you might want to add a very large, mean, rip-tearing dog to the backyard who will of course, have to wander into theirs as there is no fence (and how those play balls do wander...).

OK, that's my dark side. I'm actually not mean or litigious and I go to real lengths to get on well with my neighbors. But how anybody could try and prevent someone ELSE from having a fence to keep their children and pets in, sounds bizarre and petty to me.

I'd be trying to find a way to make them WANT you to have a fence, and the faster the better.

Bushes don't work, okay. You can grow anything you want, but nothing since Sleeping Beauty's enchanted thorns has ever really prevented a dog or child from getting through them.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2003 at 3:39PM
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If the fence is put on your side of the survey line and you pay for it there is nothing they can do about it , unless your property is governed by one of the so called homowners assoc . It would go up if they liked it or not.You can get a copy of the last survey at the court house . If they give you to much grief over it make a date for them at the court house , harrasment, liability for injury to kids and or pets, devaluation of your property,destruction of your property by stray dogs ect. ect .I would not let them tell you what to do . G

    Bookmark   February 23, 2003 at 10:16PM
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huffy1(z6A MO)

AMEN Ginge

Past post have covdered this suject but I will iput here just a bit. Good fences make good neighbors. Unless your neighbor owns you through family connection or one of those blasted homeowners covenants there should be no question as to fence or not to fence!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2003 at 8:24PM
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We do have a homeowners assoc and I have retained a lawyer to help with this matter. But our restrictions do not prohibit a fence. The Assoc. has stated they find it obtrusive and will not allow it and will file an injunction against me if I proceed.

That is another issue though so in the meantime I need help to at least deter my kids from running on the busy street behind us and into my neighbors yards too.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2003 at 10:20AM
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murrell(z6- So.Cen.Mo.)

Something sounds fishy about this posting;


Neighbor says no fence.

Restrictions don't prohibt fence.

Associaion says they will file a injuction.

A lawyer has been retained.

Oh'well summer is on it's way, and we'll be able to get outside away from these silly computers.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2003 at 11:08AM
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Someone mentiond Bamboo... They have a sister whom lives in Tenn. and Bamboo is all the rage she says for a barrier... Does anyone have experience with Bamboo... We live in Missouri

    Bookmark   March 1, 2003 at 4:17PM
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Sounds like your neighbors are being unreasonable. It's common and acceptable to fence in your backyard most places. Some subdivisions have restrictions but those are made clear before you buy your house not AFTER. We have restrictions where we are but not against having a fence. They are there to protect property value. It's more unusual to see a privacy fence across the front of someone's property. I don't think that would be as commonly acceptable unless you lived across from a factory or something. I'm still not clear whether you're fencing your whole yard or just the back. If they are objecting to a fence across the front, another solution might be to fence in a smaller area behind your house, then put shrub/tree groupings in key places to block the view from neighbors windows, some close to your house and some further away. Your yard would look great. If your neighbors are even objecting to your fencing the backyard then there's no question that they're jerks and you're going to enjoy winning this argument with them. Some bamboos are very invasive but you can find lots of info here on gardenweb. The link below is what came up with a search of bamboo screen and neighbors. There are quite a few. Hope it helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: gardenweb search

    Bookmark   March 1, 2003 at 6:55PM
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One or two ideas for you.

Espalier fruit trees in a cordon, they'll need trellis support like grapes to be shaped for a few years. Of course, you can also put decorative trellising or chicken wire and grow small vines for color in early years, up on the inside and in effect you'll have a living growing fruitbearing fence--these are very common in Europe.

OR, you could grow Red Tip Photinia which is probably the fastest growing beast I've ever seen in a garden.

Third, let your pets do their business next door and the kids, play, they might get tired and let you build some kind of attractive fence to keep the pesty kids and pets out of their yard!



    Bookmark   March 1, 2003 at 7:24PM
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To answer Christie SW MO: I am fencing the back yard of our property. Not the front yard. It would empass the entire backyard because this is where are children will play and the street is also on the backside of our home.

Does that answer your question?

We have suggested a short 3 foot fence on the sides of our home and a 4 foot fence along the backside closest to the street. I know this does not have anything to do with the gardening question but hopefully this will also give you an idea of the size we are talking about - over 400 foot of fencing total. And if we are left to only having hedges, I will need ALOT and ALOT to grow fast.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2003 at 12:37AM
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Does anyone have any personal knowledge of Hybrid Willows or Poplars?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2003 at 12:48AM
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Bill_MO(z6 MO)

Again, hedges are not going to do what you want, keep kids and dogs from going back and forth. If you would state that all you want is a little privacy, then many types of shrubs and trees would work, the faster growing usually equates to weaker and shorter lived.

I have a 320 foot Chinese Elm hedge planted four years ago on a 3 foot spacing. It is now very thick and 20 feet tall but does not stop adults or large dogs from passing thru if that is what they want to do.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2003 at 8:07AM
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I wouldn't reccomend the Hybrid Willows unless you have a place that has adequate water in the summers. Don't believe what the suppliers of that tree tell you about them being "drought-resistant" they aren't at all! Hybrid Poplars are terrific, very fast growing but NOT very long lived. My family has been growing these for over 20 yrs, and there's not an "original" tree left. Very easy to root, in a glass of water, if need be, but I usually just take a 2 foot cutting this time of year and shove it in the ground. If you use wood heat, they are fantastic for a constant supply of firewood, starting 2-3 yrs after you plant the first cutting.Cut it and it sprouts from the base5-6 sprouts. Also the leaves are very high protein, which translates to high nitrogen when they compost.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2003 at 8:12AM
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okgardenmom(z7 OK)

We put in hybrid popular as a privacy hedge when I was a teen at home. Dad brought home 2 foot long sticks, stuck them in the ground and with a lot of water they all grew and very fast. 4 to 5 foot tall within a couple of years, the problem was about 7 years later, they started dying after they hit about 15 feet tall, and the removal was a big hassel. Heaven forbid we pay a tree removal to do anything for us, we did it, if done by a tree service it would have cost a fortune.

I have delt with homeowner associations before, it sounds like you have a real problem if the rules were there before you were. I hope your lawyer can find out some good news for you.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2003 at 2:40PM
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Ok so I keep getting different opinions on what to plant... Hyrbid Poplar, Hybrid Willow, Privets, etc. Does anyone know a good CHEAP resource for these plants? I will probably need over 120 or more. "strong" posted their experience and luck with Hybrid Poplars. What has been your experience with growth rate (feet or inches per year??). Some of my yard is "wet" and some is on a hill so will have no setting water. Some areas will need watering.

I know that no shrub or hedge will keep the pets contained completely, but I have to try something. I may also look into a trellis idea as posted above.

I appreciate your help so far. Keep hoping that some how I will be able to put up a 3-4 foot picket fence and still plant shrubbery and grasses around it but if not, then I appreciate your input.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2003 at 12:01AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I would go with privet as fast and cheap, but it still going to be a few years before it does its job. Also you have the chore of trimming it. It is commonly used for hedges you should be able to see examples in your town. After the privet grew, you could run a thin electric wire and get a charger to make it dog proof. Unplug the charger when the kids play out there. You don't always have to have the fence charged for it to work. If it is on some of the time, the dog would be afraid of the wire.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2003 at 3:39PM
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okgardenmom(z7 OK)

My Dad cut them off a buddy's hegde and brought them home. I say it was cheep enough.

Maybe you can make friends with a couple of tree trimmers and they will let you know when they get another one of these they are tearing down. Or offer to trim a tree for free and you get to keep the trimmins.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2003 at 5:40PM
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Mary_McGrath(3-4 NH)

Does anyone know how to buy multiflora roses? they are now considered invasive, but I have a situation like this one and want to buy some to form a hedge. I am willing to put forth the effort to contain them.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 12:28PM
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wireweiners(SW AR)

Mary, in most states it is illegal to sell or plant multiflora rose. Trust me you don't want them. If I were the original poster and the choice was between my neighbors and the safety of my children and pets, the neighbors could go to H&*l, I would put up a nice wooden or chain link fence.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2003 at 5:37PM
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margie54(nw ar z6)

Does anyone know if it is illegal to (re)plant them here in Arkansas? My dad was just complaining about having a few left in one of his fields and I was considering taking a few to cover some fence.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2003 at 8:21PM
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I would love just be able to put up the fence, but I have been threatened by a lawyer if I proceed with a fence than they will file a lawsuit against me... but I degress... I just want peace and still need fast growing hedges and trees until I finally can resolve this or sell the home.... Privet, Hybrid Poplars and Willows seem to be what is being suggested... OK ... now where do I buy these and not spend a fortune... since I have approx 400 of barrier needed.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2003 at 10:26PM
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johnmcafee_99(z6 MO)

Sommer I would just plant a four wide strip of sunflowers where you would want a fence, see if you would like it. Or you could plant sweet corn that would block out everthing. Just plant the out side rows on a two inch spacing or just broad cast seed everythere. Could bring the deer and coons right to your neighbors and your back door. Green graze is a warm season grass grows 15-20 foot in just 2-3 months and is used for cow food (hay). You could use somthing like the above to serve a temporary block Mc!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2003 at 9:59AM
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Has anyone dealt with Greenwood Nursery on the internet? They list Hybrid Poplars and Hybrid Willows (but not privets).... They seem to have good pricing.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2003 at 5:51PM
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I was once again told to try Privet Hedges.... Any thoughts where I can buy these inexpensively? I will need 400 or so foot of hedges.

I read about seeds... but I would prefer working with plants.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2003 at 12:57PM
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Hang in there sommer. I think it would be a good idea to ask a couple questions over in the shrubs forum. It may confuse you even more but it is something that you need to put a lot of thought into as it will take a chunk out of your wallet and a big chunk out of your time as well. Some more thoughts....A three foot hedge won't keep neighbors' dogs out. Poplars get very tall and would be expensive to remove. We had to cut one down and I was very worried it would land on our roof. If you decide to put in a hedge, find out how often you would have to shear it.
I'm not trying to run you off. Just thought the shrubs forum would be a good place to ask about buying hedge type shrubs in bulk. Be sure and come back after you pick their brains. : )

    Bookmark   March 11, 2003 at 4:32PM
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Ok, I am back. As I posted earlier, I still am looking for ideas on fast growing hedges and trees. Also ideas for places to buy these.

I did post on the shrub forum and have gotten a few ideas, however, I would still appreciate more feed back.

I know by your posts you say to put up a fence but at this point it looks as if I have no say in having a fence on my property, so please keep sending your ideas for hedges shrubs and trees.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2003 at 3:20PM
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Does anyone have experience with Poplars? I can order Hybrids, Lombary, and Theves and they say they grow quickly and in a column.... Let me know your experience

    Bookmark   March 23, 2003 at 4:19PM
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murrell(z6- So.Cen.Mo.)


    Bookmark   April 21, 2003 at 4:49PM
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Ghostthroughthefog(z4 NH)

Tell the assoc. board that if one of your children were to run into the road with a car coming, you'll sue their asses off for prohibiting a fence for their safety. If that doesn't get them changing their minds, they are nuts. Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2003 at 5:25PM
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dataq1(z5 NE Ohio)

I have both Amur privet and theves poplar. They were planted specifically to provide a windbreak/privacy barrier.
I have approximately 300 feet on a busy street with fairly poor/clay soil. I did not want to spend a king's ransom to get this barrier, it always seems that when I do my job moves and I end up selling the property.
The privet will (after several years) be an effective barrier to both adults and kids, however a dog (small) or adult that really wants to get through, can and will. I planted 18" bare rooted spaced every two feet.
When I realized that it would be several years to get the 5-6 foot hedge I wanted, I planted theves poplar in a row about 8 feet parallel to the privet. They were planted from bare root 4" whips and in two years were at least ten feet tall. I planted these every three feet and intended to cut them when the privet was fully developed. After 5 years now the poplar has stunted the privet's growth and the poplars are dying (they are bout 30 feet tall).
That's my story.
Your child's safety must be your paramount concern. If I were in your position, I would pay WHATEVER to hire a lawyer and if possible challenge the home owner's association. Your only other alternative is to move to someplace where your children can be safer.
Good Luck,

    Bookmark   May 17, 2003 at 10:06PM
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We do have a homeowners assoc ... But our restrictions do not prohibit a fence.

Why and more importantly HOW can they object if there are no restrictions that prohibit a fence?

The Assoc. has stated they find it obtrusive and will not allow it and will file an injunction against me if I proceed.

Do they object to ANY fence or only certain types of fence? Maybe you could talk to them about the problem of keeping children safe from the road and they may consent to an attractive fence.

Maybe you could file against them for endangering your children and interference with your constitutional right to "pursuit of happiness" on your property.

They may interpret a hedge is a "living fence" then force you to remove the hedge.

Take a cruse around the neighborhood to see what methods other owners are using to confine their children and animals to their yards. Are you the only person in the community who has young children and pets? If other homes in your neighborhood have fences, then there shouldn't be any reason for you to be singled out and harassed over this.

As a last resort, invite tons of friends and family over every night and drive the neighbors crazy. Maybe they'll move and your problem will solve itself! hehe

    Bookmark   July 18, 2003 at 12:39AM
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Do you live near Poplar Bluff? I have a house up there with a large privit hedge. The tenents haven't cut it since they moved in about 10 years ago. You can have all the cuttings you want, free if you go cut them (but you might have to use a chain saw to cut them).

    Bookmark   July 20, 2003 at 2:50PM
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Do you think they are bluffing? Those in charge of HOA can be a pain in the a$$. What does the HOA covenant, say specificaly to fences. Does it say you must obtain approval? Does it forbid certain heights or materials? I'm not an attorney, but have lived in many HOA areas, and generally if its not specifically forbidden by the covenent or local ordinaces an injunction is difficult to obtain. Does no one have fences in your neighborhood? Also, you can do an underground electric fence for your doggies, but that won't help with kids. Also, does your HOA prohibit swimming pools? If not, this may seem really crazy, if you could get a pool passed them, local ordinance would require fencing more than likely. Just a thought. You could always file your own lawsuit against the HOA.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2003 at 2:26PM
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Hi, To answer some of randlin's and keck's questions. I am not sure if they are (that is the attorney is) bluffing. All I know is that I have only lived here 7 months and it is hard to imagine the rudeness or coldness I feel from the neighbors. In the few neighborhoods that I have lived in my life, I have never experienced this before.

As far as if we need approval. YES, our restrictions say we must get approval for workmanship, quality, and how the fence relates to topography. Our restrictions are very vague in relation to heights or materials. The only other fences in our small (8 home) neighborhood are around pools and 2 homes have small privacy fences (we are one that is at the back of our patio). We do have an underground fence but that does not keep the kids in the yard or out of the street. We do not want a pool (if we get a pool our restrictions state it must be an inground pool).

Side note, at the back of our property approximately 10 years ago there was a fence that bordered our backline and the busy street. When they widened the road the fence was taken down and never put back up by the City. I have spoke with the City and they are replacing the fence back there (hopefully soon)

I really do not want to file a lawsuit. This has already cost me alot of money in legal fees.

Thanks for your support.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2003 at 11:23AM
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Sorry to hear about your problems. Here's my hedge experience: My privet hedge is slow growing, but it's not in full sun. They loose their leaves in winter. I had Chinese elm, it grew much faster but I pulled it after the second year (at 4' high) since it was too close to the sidewalk. My Pampass grass hedge is now 6 ft. high and thick (planted 2 feet apart 2 years ago) very good barrier, if in full sun.My hybrid willows are tall but thin and whispy, not much a barrier, visual or otherwise and it needs to be watered during dry months. I started with 6 willow trees and ended up with several dozen just by the cuttings stuck in ground meathod above. Rosa rugosa also is working well for me as a barrier, but not sure if this is the same as the banned rose mentioned. I just planted a mixed holly/camlia hedge to fatten up the privet hedge and give it evergreen appeal, I may end up removing the privet at some point. Of course this is the Pacific NW so my climate is different. As far as sources-I know most tell you to avoid the cheap mail order companies like four seasons nursery but my experience with them has been mixed. It takes forever to deliver but the price was good and most the stock arrived in good condition. I really like my pampass hedge-if one has room for it-but not sure how well it grows there, or if it is a pest problem. I have had luck with the arbor day plants as well, the forsythia makes a nice hedge and mine grew fast.( luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cheap privet source

    Bookmark   March 4, 2004 at 5:26PM
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I hate to tell you this, but we worked with the city on getting a fence installed along the backside of our property and the busy road, and our neighbors sued us and won. The whole thing has cost of in excess of $10,000 and it disgusts me that even today, one stopped by and used vulgar language in front of my children.
I put a for sale sign up today but that I still have to sell and find a new home. (and I have no savings for a down payment now.)
Thanks for your thoughts. I wish everyone understood our plight.

In a message dated 3/8/2004 9:03:33 PM Central Standard Time, writes:
This message originated at GardenWeb]

Hi. First thing you should do is check with your village, town, or city to find out what their fence ordinance is. If you are allowed to have a fence, make sure you follow your codes for where the fence must be placed (6 inches inside the line where I live, 12 inches in other municipalities).

Since you need a fence to protect your children and to keep your dogs in your own yard, don't worry about what your neighbor says. Install a 4 ft. chain link fence, or even a welded wire fence with those green metal posts. Both of these are the most economical.

If you want privacy or want to be kind, install a row of arborvitae or another hedge before you install the fence. The hedge will hide the fence from your neighbors. Eventually, the hedge will grow through the fence, hiding it on your side, too.

Chain link is ugly, but if you hide it with plants, it makes great fencing because it lasts forever. Welded wire (large squares of wire as in cattle fence, or smaller squares or rectangles, found at Lowe's, Home Depot, etc) will last 10 years or more. The smaller the squares, the stronger the fence, and the fewer critters that can fit through.

The previous owner of my current home fenced the back yard with 6ft high chain link. When I saw it, I couldn't wait to take it down. But, now I love it! So do my neighbors. My neighbors like it because it lets sun and air through. In the areas, near my patio, for example, where I want privacy, I installed some arborvitae ($20 each in August at garden center). They were 4-5 ft tall when I bought them, now they are about 12 ft tall in only 5 years.

In another area, I grew Silver Lace Vine on the fence, and grapes in another, clematis and Dutchman's Pipe in another, and so on. Some light and air still come through. By my vegie garden, I just left the bare fence.

Chain link is available with a green plastic coating and green posts. This is the best. If you use welded wire fence, it rusts after a while and becomes invisible.

You are doing the right thing by installing a fence (as long as it is legal to do so). your neighbors will forgive you. Protect your kids and dogs first. Worry about your neighbor's likes and dislikes later.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2004 at 12:21AM
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I too have an HOA that restricts fencing. It must be 6 foot tall wooden fence(give or take an inch), 3ft in from the sidewalk, shaped badly (cutting the corners off my yard by 15ft) to provide point-of-view for drivers (since my lot is a corner lot), have the tops of the posts beveled and a notch cut 3inches from the top + all the way around the top of the post, and must be ugly grey (a crayon color?), a specific expensive paint from a specific paint company, or a fine of $15 per week will be charged.

We were given estimates from local fencing companies of 5 to 6 thousand dollars for the fence. If I had the money I would go with the fence.

If I place trees or plant life every 6ft around the parimeter of my property, they will call it a living fence, and fine me.

I really only need/want a privacy + wind breaker fence. It gets real windy by my house.

I was thinking about Theves Poplars and Tulip Trees, and open for other ideas.

We have some young 2-3 foot grape vines we planted, to beautify the plastic porch fence that came with this new house.

Hehe, the trees that the housing company planted for us have all died, except for the small pine tree. The pine tree is also a requirement of the HOA, so I want to keep this one really short, and not bushy.

Any help or suggestions?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 4:32PM
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No solution found... Can't sell home... no one seems to be interested since it has no fence.
We had City replace a fence that existed there prior, then we were sued by Trustees, they won (Our lawyer can't fathom why) and we have paid over $10000 in legal bills.
It has turned into a living hell and our children still can not play in their own backyard safely.
We have submitted over 50 proposals and all have been rejected.
Our neighbors had verbally harassed us and have even gone as far as trying to cause embarrassment in other avenues of our life.
We are just sickened by our situation.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 4:39PM
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Sommer, want you to know that we have been following on this thread since it began. Very sad about the outcome after the battle you have been fighting. It is good education for potential home buyers in checking every detail of 'regulations' before signing a contract. To us, a fence is one of the most important elements of home ownership especially for protection of children and pets. So sorry this has ruined the enjoyment of your property. EP

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 11:09AM
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I am also sickened by your situation. I just skimmed thru the posts, so maybe I missed some stuff, but I can't figure out on what grounds you were denied the fence. I hope you demanded an explaination from the HOA and the lawyer (whom you paid!). Certainly some sort of fencing must be acceptable to the HOA. And BTW, do you know who is on the HOA and when their position expires? Perhaps the next group of people will be more reasonable.

As a side note, most people in my subdivision DO NOT get a copy of the HOA covenants - they have to know enough to ask for it (and pay the fee to get a copy).

As for plants - I would find your local Ag Extension office and ask them. Also, mine has a once a year sale of saplings, which I think you can also get from the state (forestry dept., I think). I believe that my state (NC)will also sell to you if you live in another state.

Keep the updates coming; I'd like to hear how things turn out for you.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2004 at 4:02PM
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I appreciate everyone's concern for our situation. No matter what we present to our HOA they reject. I have asked that they provide us with a fence proposal that is acceptable to them and also to provide us copies of the 2 other homes accepted fence and pool proposals. They have not complied with our requests.

The following is exactly what our restrictions state: "No building shall be erected, placed or altered on any lot until the construction plans and specifications and the plans showing the location of a structure have been approved by the Board of Trustess as to quality of workmanship and materials, harmony of exterior design with existing structures, and as to location with respect to topography and finished grade elevations. No fence or wall shall be erected placed or altered on any lot unless similarily approved under the same standards of review, and no fences or walls shall be erected placed or altered on any lot nearer to any street than the minimum building setback ine as shown on the recorded plat unless similarly approved." Also in regards to any swimming pool: All swimming pools shall be enclosed with a fence sufficient to preclude entry by unsupervised children. (NOTE: Our restrictions require inground pools).

Our HOA have disapproved all 50+ proposals that we have submitted, including proposals to include a pool on our property. They have now changed the restrictions to only allow 1 proposal every 6 months. Also they have changed the restrictions to be able to approve all fence proposals no matter what with no guidelines needed.

Their response has been the same to every proposal: It is the opinion of the Board of Trustees that the proposed fence is not in harmony with the open, natural layout and design of (subdivision name omitted for safety reasons). Said fence would divide and cut up the neighborhood. Further the proposed fence would obstruct sight lines, prevent free movement of neighbors between yards, interrupt the natural flow of the land between dwellings and significantly degrade the intended open character and natural beauty of (subdivision name ommitted).

We have attempted to answer and appease all of their concerns. We have failed over and over again.

We are attempting to sell our home, however, we have had no luck since without a fence this home is less marketable and we can not lie about the fact that a fence will not be allowed.

We would love to be able to fight this, however, we have spent over $10000 on legal fees and have suffered emotionally and physically due to the treatment we receive from our neighbors.

Obviously, as always, we are open to help and suggestions. We continue to hope that this can be worked out for the safety of our children and any person whom occupies this home.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2004 at 4:14PM
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I'm at a loss for words. The sum you have spent on this problem coupled with a lack of understanding what happened in the process is most unfortunate. I'm not a lawyer and don't live in Missouri, but I have experience as an expert witness in cases between local land owners. In my area, I have come to some of the following conclusions after many years of reading court opinions and observing the actions of lawyers in respect to these types of cases.

There are some areas of law that produce cases that will never bring large money awards to either side. There is little money to be made by lawyers from such cases and for that reason they don't waste a lot of time acquiring knowledge of law on these subjects. Often these cases are heard in a court of equity. Presented by two unprepared attorneys, they are a crap shoot. Lawyers I know never make a better preparation than which they are paid, and even when they are paid, often don't do the work they should. I learned a long time ago, if my clients were going to get justice, I would need to track all of the filings at the court to insure that my side was doing all the needed work.

Your case deals with the enforcement of covenants that apply to land you own. Generally the following can be said of such covenants.

Covenants run with the land and all those who come to own the land must abide by them. They are in essence a contract between owners to either restrict the land use or confer a duty for each owner to take some affirmative action, such as the payment of dues.

Restrictions may be enforced if they have a basis in fact with regard to the covenants and are not an arbitrary and capricious action.

Once created, terms of the covenants can be modified if a provision for doing so was in the original covenants. But no new restrictions can be created unless agreed to by all property owners. The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District's decision in Webb v. Mullikin made reference to Van Deusen v. Ruth , 125 S.W.2d 1 (Mo. 1938) and said in part ...

Note the language of the provision authorizing a change in the restrictions: "All or any of the foregoing provisions or restrictions may be modified, amended released or extinguished at any time after ten (10) years * * *." A mere reading of the above suggests to the mind that the intention was to permit the existing restrictions to be alleviated, that is, made less harsh, or to be entirely extinguished. It would certainly require a strained construction to hold that the clause authorized any new and additional restrictions and burdens to be added. The words "modify" and "amended" may have various meanings, but they must be interpreted in the light of the context in which they are used. When so interpreted in this case they cannot be given a meaning which would authorize new burdens to be added.
The court also stated that to uphold the modification agreement would require the court to
construe the clause at issue "most liberally" to authorize new restrictions. This construction would
be contrary to the principle that restrictions that are in derogation of the fee conveyed will not be extended by implication to include anything not clearly expressed.

The HOA does not get to make it up as they go. Their power is limited to the original covenants and Missouri courts have been reluctant to approve modifications that put a greater burden on properties unless the original covenants clearly indicated that such amendments would be forthcoming.

As to the outcome of cases, the courts care not one wit for fairness. It is not a concept the law embraces. Courts cling to two tenets, consistency and finality. And you get consistency only if you know what consistency is and ask for it.

It is surprising that you are still asking for documents from the HOA concerning other fences built in the subdivision. If your lawyer had asked for them while the litigation was ongoing before trial as a part of the discovery phase of the case, they would have been compelled to either produce the documents or suffer the argument that their current enforcement is arbitrary and capricious. Makes me wonder what your attorney did to earn that $10000.

A case you might find interesting is that of Barry Harbor Homes Association v. Ortega. The Association sought to restrict Ortega from parking his boat on his driveway citing a covenant that said "no truck, boat, trailer, camper, recreational vehicle, machinery or other equipment shall be repaired or customarily or habitually parked, kept or stored on the streets or alleys or in the yards around any of the buildings within Barry Harbor." The court found that "customary uses of these two words in everyday conversations by ordinary people differentiates 'driveways' and 'yards.' " The court further held that "[w]hile a 'yard' or a 'driveway' are a part of a home owner's realty, by common usage and custom they are recognizably different." Therefore, the court granted the Ortegas' motion for summary judgment because "there is no protective covenant that prevents [the Ortegas] from parking, keeping, or storing their boat in their driveway."

The forgoing case was from Platte County, and Ortega was represented by Michael Bredehoft. If you are close to this part of the state you might want to look Mr. Bredehoft up to represent you in any new litigation of this type.

If you want to find out what really happened to you in this litigation, I would suggest you start by going to the courthouse and getting a copy of every paper in the case file. While there, get a complete copy of the covenants that were filed with the subdivision plat too. The freedom of information act compels the clerk to comply with your request. This is a great country. You have rights, use them.

Use the legal dictionary at to get an understanding of the legal terms. The case law I referred to I found by going to' and selecting Âsearch options' then putting the terms "property AND owner AND association " into the search box.

If I can be of help, email me from my gardenweb page.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2004 at 6:31PM
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I am extremely grateful for everyones imput. I hate that a Garden Forum has turned into a forum on a HOA.

I have said over and over, that we just want to protect our children from an extremely busy road.

Our HOA and neighbors have shut us out and no matter what we present to them they either say no or ignore us. And no matter how friendly we act by waving hello, they turn their heads or worse.

I do not consider myself a saint or an angel, however, I am not sure why God feels I deserve this situation.

I know that there is always a reason for things, I am just trying to discover what that reason is.

Again, thanks and feel free to email me or contact me through this forum.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2004 at 11:39PM
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Gary47(Z5 Michigan)

Try a fence made of roses. Applejack or Henry Kelsey would do the job.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2004 at 10:06PM
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Go down to the court house and make sure that the home assoc. has this on file. (the no fence thing)
Our home assoc was raising dues left and right for years and nothing was ever on file. It was an illeagle move for them, they had to refund everyones money or pay them up for for several whatever they say might not be on file...if it is...then all you have wasted is a trip to the court house. No big deal.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2004 at 2:41AM
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So sorry for your predicament. This is one reason why my husband and I are adamantly against HOA's and will *Never Ever* purchase a home where one exists or sign one that is proposed.

I have to say from reading your posts that I got a strong feeling that you were leaving a lot of background information out. Generally hostile neighbors or groups working against you have a starting sore point whether it is something as callous as racial overtones, going outside the established chain of contacts or over some leader's head, unwelcome alternative lifestyles that don't fit the neighborhood, obtaining a property that neighbor's wanted for their own or family, etc.

Again, this is why *I* prefer larger lots or country living with a large land buffer that I would own. I feel for you and hope some resolution will be found until someone either makes amends or you can find a better place to dwell.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2004 at 1:08PM
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Thanks for all of the continuing comments and concerns for our situation. We have received helpful information and I encourage the continuation of such help.

I would like to comment Sujiwan - I honestly cannot say what exactly caused such a resentment to us from the beginning. My husband and I live a very honest life. We donate our time to charities and alike. I would consider us easy to get along with but very analytical when it comes to issues.

My first encounter with our neighbors was not until our first street meeting, one month after we moved into our home. At the meeting I asked how to go about presenting a fence proposal to the street. Was this something we needed to provide to the entire street or just the Trustees. We had the restrictions so we knew the guidelines, we just inquired about what procedure had been used in the past or how they would like for us to present our idea. At the meeting a resounding NO was presented by the other homeowners to us having a fence. I asked on what basis could they flat out reject a fence. They basically just stated that they did not want a fence. Yes, I did "break down". I told them that they were putting our children at risk. They did not live adjacent to this busy road. That we had been told by the sellers that a fence would be allowed. That we had the restrictions and it clearly did not prohibit fences. I even went as far as stating I wished I had not moved here and that I wanted to "go home". There were many opinions about a fence, however, I stated that I would present a proposal to the Trustees in more detailed writing (I had a outline and a drawing of what we wanted). I proceeded to present a plan to them, however, it was rejected based on (not exact quote) it is the opinion of trustees that this fence is not in keeping with the natural beauty of our neighborhood. We contacted a lawyer (whom we considered a friend at the time), whom quickly spouted off a letter to the trustees asking on what basis they rejected our proposal. They quickly contacted a lawyer whom then contacted our lawyer and one thing lead to a terrible-nother. We went on the advice of our lawyer and reinstalled a pre-existing fence with the help of the City. We were taken to court and lost on the basis that we did not receive an ok from the trustees, etc. We in short took down the fence and paid all (including the Trustees) lawyer's expenses. After this we have submitted approx. 50 different proposals to them, all rejected. We even have asked for them to put together a plan acceptable to them. There are currently 3 fences in our neighborhood of 8 homes. 2 go around pools and the other is a privacy fence (actually located on our property adjacent to our patio). Since I have not walked in the rear of any of our other neighbors, I believe that is all the fencing that exists. We asked for copies of the proposals submitted on these fences to use as a guideline to put together an acceptable proposal to them. Everything we have done meets with resistance.

But their attitude towards us does not stop at the fence issue.

I do not know if this gives you any insight into our situation. I realize that I did not act on my best behavior at our first meeting. However, in my defense, I would also say we were not greeted with open arms upon moving into this neighborhood- and that is something that I can not explain.

Again, thanks for your concerns and help.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2004 at 2:05PM
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My heart goes out to you, Sommer! I can't believe you're still having to struggle with this since your original post. It sounds to me like you have had the utterly miserable luck to move into a neighborhood filled with chronically unhappy, controlling types who enjoy wielding power. And, of course, until you're actually living somewhere, it's virtually impossible to know ahead of time what 'lurks' in the way of neighborhood chemistry.

I don't live in a subdivision with an HOA, but I'm in a very close (meaning houses close together) neighborhood, where it's almost impossible to breathe without somebody taking note, critiquing and making sure you know that they don't approve of the way you're breathing! And, egads, if you do anything to your house, everyone is right there at the curb (or walks right into the yard, uninvited) to pronounce judgment---more often negative than not. (Fortunately, they don't actually have control over what I do---but they certainly LOVE to pretend they do!) Sometimes I swear my neighbors have absolutely NO lives of their own. LOL! Mostly I can laugh it off, but some days it makes me want to pick up my pretty house and even prettier yard and move 'em about 10 miles outside of town, with plenty of greenery to buffer me from neighbors.

This isn't headline-making news, by any means, but if it helps you keep your perspective even a tiny bit, keep in mind that an awful lot of people---no matter how 'normal' their lives look to the outside world---are truly depressed and disappointed on some fundamental level about Life. (It's a cliche, but one that seems all too true, that many of the most manicured subdivisions and homes are the ones harboring the most dysfuctional families. Hiding the chaos within.) Some unhappy folks simply keep to themselves, but others look for opportunities to take their unhappiness out on those around them through disparaging remarks and a variety of controlling, abusive behavior designed to drag anyone vaguely happy down to their level of pain....Basically, a variation on the "If Mama ain't happy, ain't NObody happy" theme. Or what I've heard dubbed the Crabpot Approach to life---whenever a crab nearly escapes from a crabpot, the others drag him right back down! LOL!

It's too bad that in an (understandably) unguarded moment you revealed your soft underbelly at that first meeting. I suspect most of 'em knew right off the bat that they 'had you' the moment you said you wanted to 'go home.' (I certainly don't blame you; it must have been a shock to be essentially booed down at your first community meeting. Kinda sounds like the Salem witchcraft trials!)

And don't worry too much about whether you 'did' something to deserve their treatment. About a week after I moved into my house, my very FIRST conversation with the tight-lipped, patrician woman next door consisted of being accused of stealing something out of her house! I couldn't believe my ears! She knew very well that I hadn't stolen anything, but she was doing her offensive best in a weird, weird way to make clear that she didn't "approve" of a single woman moving in next door. She wanted to be sure that I knew that she had determined on sight that my character was suspect. Mostly a shot over the bow to warn me off of my "obvious" agenda in buying the house---trying to "steal" her husband. As if her inert, alcoholic spouse would be of the slightest interest to me! LOL! Welcome to the neighborhood, eh??!! That neighbor (now deceased, and no, I didn't kill her! LOL!) is a perfect example of the kind of chronically unhappy soul that peoples so many nice-looking neighborhoods. (She's probably spying on me, wherever she now is, sure I'm about to put the moves on her widower....Heaven help us all!)

At this point, the tricky, but vital, trick is to insulate yourself successfully from these folks---if not physically, then emotionally. Minimize your exposure to their corrosive behavior and preserve your own sanity....I suspect, if only for your emotional health, you're best bet is to give up the idea of a fence, because at this point, $10K into it and 50 proposals later, these folks are surely revelling in the power they're able to exert over you. The more you propose, the more you put yourself in a position to be turned down, the more control they're enjoying. Do your darndest to move, and in the meantime, save yourself the bother of waving at these people or trying to initiate any kind of interaction. 'Tain't worth it! Cut your losses, turn inward, do what you need to make the interior of the house comforting and soothing for you and your loved ones (and a knock-out for potential buyers), and don a mental and emotional coat of armor when you head out the door.

Maybe you're already trying this, but jerry-rig 'temporary' greenery screening NEAR the house as much as you can. (Or staggered in layers from the house out into the middle of the yard.) Anything to help provide some privacy and give your loved ones some boundaries. Big potted plants, trellises, whatever you think you can get away with. If it all appears to be 'temporary,' the control freaks will have less ammunition to shoot in your direction. (I bet half the thrill these people get in life is watching their neighbors like bugs under a microscope. Hence the dislike of fences. Spoils their view of other people's private business.)

Hang in there, least until you can get OUT of there.....! You'll make it through this AND will be able someday to congratulate yourself on having escaped the kind of unhappy, acidic lives that most of your neighbors surely lead.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2004 at 5:06PM
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iam2cool62(NW AR)

Please anyone!!! I need to know how to dry pampass grass. Can you retain the color (stems too)?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2004 at 1:00PM
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thistle5(z7 VA)

If I were you, I'd consider putting in a small pond, w/ plants & fish. Your area may have regulations about fencing a pond (concerning the depth), I certainly wouldn't want a pool, but I'd consider putting in a pond, if it helped me get a fence...

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 3:17PM
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Aaron__IN(Z5 indiana)

Well are you aloud to say put a wall of dirt up how about some confedate flag and a pick up truck or a tank. go get a permit for a gun and carry it with you dont be the one taking crap from these idiots. stand up for your rights. dont be pushed around and let them know. maybe do whatever you can to lower the value of your home. and theres. maybe after awhile they will leave you alone. try round up on there stuff the people that wont let ya have a fence. Man i feel for you. stick some arrow shooting target out back. due what you can but stick to what you can get away with.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2004 at 10:37PM
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My heart goes out to you...and I will be wary of HOAs from now on. I am angry on your behalf. Plant something invasive like bamboo, you can controll it on your side and let them deal with theirs. What they are doing makes me sick. Perhaps I am less charitable than you, but I would wage a campaign of annoyance personally, all within the restrictions of course.

Good Luck,

    Bookmark   October 14, 2004 at 3:03PM
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Kathy547(z8 AR)

I have been reading this thread since the beginning, hoping Sommer came out ahead. Never have I been more grateful that I live out in the middle of nowhere, with just two neighbors anywhere near me! I'm not sure how long pampas grass takes to grow, but I have seen yards where they had pampas grass planted. After they get a good size they make a good 'fence' because the grass/blade can give you little papercut-like cuts. I would think after a couple of times, that would deter animals and children. Around here, for vegetable gardens, we use electric fencing. You can string a wire & hook it up to a charger. My neighbor does this for his horses when he has them in areas without a fence. He ties bright orange tape/ribbon on the fence so that the horses see the orange. When they touch the fence they get zapped so after awhile they stay away from the orange & don't realize the fence isn't always charged. This works for him. I don't know if his charge is more powerful since he's dealing with horses. The one we use hurts enough that we don't go up to it & grab it but not enough to do serious harm. My dog got zapped once on the tail & now she avoids the area. I would be alittle leery of the privet because we moved to an area that was unattended for years & now I keep having to cut it down. If you do decide on it or anything like pampas grass or anything that's a plant, instead of buying from somewhere, why not trade on GardenWeb for it?

Have you thought about taking this problem publicly? Go to any/every newspaper office in your area with copies of EVERYTHING & see if they want to do a story about it. Maybe your homeowners' association will at least compromise. You might possibly get someone to start a legal fund to pay your old legal fees or any new ones you acquire. And who knows, maybe there's someone with grown children or no children who will make you an offer on the house!

On the one hand I agree with everyone who has basically said you should screw your neighbors since they have screwed you so bad. On the other hand, you do have to associate with them on some level so why make things worse for yourself. Are you alot younger than the majority of the people already there? I'm thinking other parents would see how important a fence would be but that's just me.

I am in my 7th year as a homeowner. I think if I was in your situation, even if a fence was allowed I would still want to move. Your neighbors have pretty much ruined your first year there so I don't see you being invited to dinner parties by them or socializing with them.

Did I miss it or did you never say if your kids were really young or older kids? A 2 year old will just dart out but an 8 year old will stay in the yard if you tell him to. Also, what pets do you have? Are they house pets or do they stay outside all the time? Outside, they can be put on one of those runs between two trees. If you put them where they'll poop in the neighbor's yard, the neighbor might side with you about the fence.

I think I would still want to sell and move. Too much BS & too many rules!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2004 at 3:52PM
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rickey16(S. Ontario z6)

What about consulting a city official about it? Explain your situation to them. After all, there gonna have to eventually do something about it. Anyways, I totally agree with Kathy547 100%. Take it publically. These prople sound like real pricks. One of our neighbours once squealed to the city hall about "our dog barking"....our dog is about 11 years old. She barely ever barks! lol.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2004 at 6:18PM
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Sommer - you need a better lawyer. See for more info on fighting HOAs. If there are no restrictions against fences, and there are already existing fences in the neighborhood, your lawyer should have sued them based on selective enforcement. You most likely lost and paid all that cash to cover their attorneys fees because you were not able to secure plans that were acceptable to their architectural review board (probably the trustees themselves - all few members) and you went ahead and put it up anyway. HOAs are a dangerous ugly entity that does more than just safeguard our property values. You basically sign away your constitutional rights when you join an HOA. Seek a new laywer whose familiar with HOA laws. We have Homestead Exemptions here in MO and those can be used to our advantage. You can also sue for harrassment and gain restratining orders and injunctive relief to have your neighbors' fences taken down also. Then let's see what happens when a number of neighbors ban together. Botttom line is I bet no one is willing to face the bullies that sit on your board. They are probably happy to see you go and wanted that in the first place since you are not their "caliber." HOAs are just legalized forms of racketeering. Sorry you had to go through all that, but there are people who might be able to help you now.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2004 at 12:31AM
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Thanks for the thoughts.... I wish that it would be as simple as aquiring a new lawyer or new ideas.... My neighbors (and there are only 8 homes total in our HOA and subdivision) decide the fate of others based on their own opinions, not that of the restrictions... Yes they have fences, but they use the fact that they also have pools to say that they are in compliance. What fascinates me is that we have certain clear guidelines in our restrictions that are being violated or allowed... Such as vinyl siding... It is prohibited, you must have natural wood or stone, however, one home has brick (OK) and vinyl siding.... It is a no win situation that I am stuck in.... No outlook to move soon or possibily ever.

I wish that something could be worked out without involving the courts or lawyers... I have NOT sent any new plans to them in MANY MANY months... But I have sent them over 50 plans and all have been rejected... I have asked for their input and for what they would accept, and have heard nothing.... I have sent them letters about how our new restrictions perhaps are not legal or binding based on the fact that not everyone approved them and they impose additional burdens on homeowners....

I have no answers only frustration. I am looking for someone to come in and rescue us... guide us..... and show us how to resolve this situation....

Our neighbors continue to shun us....I wave, but get snubbed... It is truly a sad day when this can occur. I am not saying that I am a saint (by no means I am not), but I guess I still do not understand where to go, what to do, and how to live in peace with these people. I still fear for my childrens safety when they play in our rear yard.... We have had many things vandelized, we have had treapassers and things have occurred that would make you wonder how children are being raised near us.... Yes, I am upset, and mad, and do speak ill of our situation and those that continue to look down on us.... Yes, this is not Christian like, but I do not shout at them, speak to them, or even go over and wish them a merry Christmas.... It is quite different living here... Yes, I continue to look for plants and ideas to make a natural barrier between us, our neighbors and the BUSY street behind us. I look forward to more input by you and am open to ideas and help...... Happy Holidays

    Bookmark   December 12, 2004 at 12:16PM
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Wow, I can't believe what I have read in this post. It makes you wonder about what motivates people. I feel for you. I believe in the protection of all living creatures. I wish there was someone out there whom would help you. I will keep you in my prayers.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2004 at 12:22AM
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I need HELP!!!! I can't figure out where to turn!?!?! I thought I was receiving help from a person known as pls8xx but all of a sudden the help stopped. I had hope. I had a light.... but now this evening... I feel in the dark.. a VICTIM once again. What is becoming of this world?

One way we "solved" our problem was to put up a dog kennel so that our Dogs could be loose and somewhat safe... It was a pen 10x20. Well for over a year it sat on one side of our home.... Our neighbors hated it. 2 weeks ago, I moved it to the other side of our home, since we had gotten a trampoline for Christmas and I wanted to be to able to see the trampoline from my window... Well tonight at 4:10 a.m. I get a knock on the door... It's a police officier... Thoughts race through my head.. My kids, are they hurt (they are out of town with my parents), my parents, has something happened to them? NO, someone took this 10' x 20' dog kennel and carried it off our property and onto busy the busy road behind our home... It had to have taken 3 or more people to lift it and carry it.... Yes, a report has been filed.... But where does this leave us? I am scared.... I wonder what else could happen..... We do not live in a bad part of town. We live in $250000 homes, nice yards, etc..... Whom could have done this and why?!?

What rights do I have without proof? I am now desperate for help, desperate to keep my family safe..... Desperate to make this stop.. I can not afford a legal battle to make my property secure.... I can not afford a lawyer or detectives or other to stop this madness.... I can not afford to move, although it would be nice, but where would be go?

This is madness.....I hate to post this to this website since now it is alot more than just finding bushes or shrubbery, etc.... but I do not know where to turn... what to do.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2005 at 7:21AM
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I specifically joined gardenweb so I could post a follow-up for you.
If I make spelling mistakes, please forgive me ... English is not my native tongue (I'm from Belgium)
Anyway, it seems to me that you have to muster the strenght to move forward ... if my neighbors are not to nice to me, I "kill" them with friendliness ... I would "wave my arm of my body" and paste a permanent smile on my face. It's Belgian procedure but it always does the trick in the long run. I'm also a very private person so I really value a good hedge and I'm always on the net doing "hedge research" so to speak.
For the back of your property I propose putting up Russian Olive (aleaegnus augustifolia). It originated as an ornamental that escaped to the wild (where I have been digging it up to put in my garden for hedging purposes). It is decidious, full and kind of thorny ... my kids do not attempt to walk through it. It has beautiful leaves and incredible smelling blossoms in springtime. You will have to be somewhat patient but it does grow fast.
For a divide between you and your neighbors I propose a hedge of rosa rugosa. Grows fast -hardiest rose there is- incredible smell,pestfree, beautiful rosehips in fall. Maxes out at about 6 foot but can be sheared as a hedge. And again, thorny, nothing is going to wander through ! If the neighbors complain, well, it's not a hedge ... keep smiling, waving and tell them it's a linear bed of roses .
You can order both from at very affordable prices. Is it the most fabulous company out there ? No ... but at their prices you can afford to lose a couple. All the rugosas I ordered (75 of them) however made it. I suggest to order extra and to pot them up ; so when you do have to replace some, you will allready have some plants going.
I also planted Californa privet last year (14.99 at home depot ... tall 6-7 foot shrubs) and the jury is still out.
Anyway, I hope my advise will be useful ! You really need to start growing shrubbery upcomig season so that three years from now your screen will be growing in !

    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 10:25AM
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thanks for the information and interest

    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 12:44PM
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dbardot(z10 CA)

I was noticing you mentioned that the person you bought the house from said it included the backyard fence proposal. Can you make them accountable and then find a way out of this house that way? Have you found a hedge plant you will be using? If so post it and I'm sure we can all pitch in, I for one would be willing to send you one!! Hang in there, someone has to fight the good fight!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2005 at 12:37AM
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You said "I was noticing you mentioned that the person you bought the house from said it included the backyard fence proposal. Can you make them accountable and then find a way out of this house that way?".... The owners prior to us did not have a fence proposal, however, they did have a fence along the patio for privacy. This is still on our property. Also, these owners gave us a copy of the contract between this property and the city, which showed that a fence was to be reinstalled, but never was.... In our court case, the judge did not care about these facts, actually I believe he had made his decision regarding our case, prior to even hearing the case....

I have planted privets, but continue to look for some type of fast growing evergreen type hedge or trees. I also need something that grows in shaded or non-direct sunlight.... always open for suggestions..


    Bookmark   January 22, 2005 at 12:46AM
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I joined the forum specifically to address the HOA issue.

First, let me say to Sommer that I truly am sympathetic to your plight. However, I'm not sure why you haven't followed up with the excellent suggestions regarding hiring a new (skilled) attorney, seeking the paperwork at the local courthouse and using existing exemptions as a method of proving bias and invalidating the HOA. The example of vinyl siding alone is sufficient to disqualify the entire bylaws.

Second, if you are in a neighborhood of quarter million dollar homes, you aren't living in Hicksville. (No snide comments. Many of my family and in-laws live in Hicksville and it's a lovely place, you just don't get a lot of high dollar homes there.) I would approach the local TV stations for a perfect sweeps month story. "Planning to buy a new home this summer? Will your neighbors turn into NIGHTMARES?" or "Local family fights HOA to save their childrens lives!" Even the hokey, but eye-catching "Desperate Housewife in Waynesville" or wherever you are. This story is juicy! Everyone hates HOAs (again - the disclaimer - Mr. Nanny_Goat is our HOA Pres). Everyone fears moving into a house and having it turn into a horror story. Everything thinks their neighbors are ghastly. Your story covers abuse of the legal system, child and animal safety, HOAs, home buying, intimidation in the 'burbs. Write a letter to the local newspaper complaining about the "unfriendly town" you find yourself living in. What do your neighbors do? Surely they have jobs and businesses where you could apply some pressure and publicity? And by the way, what's the problem with your city council representatives? Why aren't they stepping up to the plate to help protect the youngest and most innocent of their constituency.

Third, I'd install myself some big-ass security lights INSIDE the house and pointing out towards the yard. Flood the place with lights - if they are inside, they can't be "accidentally" broken. Again, if the HOA complains, back to the newspapers and TV stations to state how unsafe you feel in your own home and how the mean old neighbors refuse to let you protect yourself.

Fourth, get yourself a shotgun and practice target shooting in the backyard. Keep it close at hand and don't be afraid to salt someones backside.

Fifth, use your resources. You've now been in this town for two years. Surely you've meet a few people with influence. Folks from church, from school, from work - you aren't living in a sealed jar. Start putting pressure on your neighbors by using people YOU know who can shame them into decency. Missouri is the Show Me state, so start showing us some of the crow you're making them HOA eat!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 4:37AM
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Hi from another Missourian! I have been in your situation before and thankfully I now live in the country where I can do and will do what I want.
Have you thought of growing Rose of Sharon bushes? They are fast growing and pretty to look at. If you have friends or relatives that have them, they are easy to get starts from. Here's my thought......Plant a row of them maybe one every 2-3 foot along the boundary that you would put the fence. Then as they grow larger, you can use natural materials, like wooden trellis(only shorter)on the bottom 2-3 foot to form a boundary of sorts. Is this something that seems feasible to you? The bushes grow fast, and you can prune the limbs however you like after a few years. It would only take 2 years or so to have an effective hedge of sorts in the warm months. I am trying to think of ways for you to find a loophole in this mess, and wish you the best.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 7:13AM
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I appreciate all of your responses... In response to Nanny Goat, I walk a very fine line... I do know my share of influential people in our town, however, due to my husband's community and political involvements, I try not to stir the waters. I find your input interesting since I have thought of bringing this situation into the limelight... I have tried alittle unsuccessfully, but your spins may be something that would interest the media.

And to respond to HotHouseHen, I love Rose of Sharon... I had alot at my previous home.... but do not know where to acquire any for "free"... My neighbor has some but I do not dare ask him.

I feel caught between a "rock and a hard place" and I do appreciate everyone's help.

I would love to hire another attorney to solve my problems, but I guess my first experience with a lawyer has put a sour taste in my mouth.... I feel had this lawyer taken a different approach and had not told us to reinstall the fence along the back of our property, we would have a better standing ground..... Also, we can not afford another legal fight...
Again, thanks!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 10:16AM
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If you aren't wanting to stir up trouble directly about the fence, use the recent situation with the dog kennel for the media. It's still a catchy story - - assume bands of roaming teenagers wrecking havoc throughout the city. Seriously, someone could have been killed if they had run into your dog kennel. Not to mention the thousands of dollars in damage it would do to a car - - if the problems you have faced in putting up a fence happen to get mentioned in the story, well . . . oops. I'm guessing you don't keep your dogs outside otherwise they would have raised a fit.

Regarding Rose of Sharon, I'm looking at my most recent catalog from Burgess Seed and Plant & they are selling 6 plants for $3.95 - 30 feet of hedge. You can get 24 plants for $16.45 = 120 feet of hedge. That's not much money to squeeze out of your budget for landscaping. (I have no association with the company and this is not a recommendation for them). I've seen comparable pricing in other catalogs.

Good luck -

    Bookmark   January 29, 2005 at 2:31AM
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southerngurl(6 Ark)

Can you build a "trellis" for some himalayan blackberries to grow on?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 8:23PM
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windyrr2(z9a FL)

Sommer, your problem with the HOA is exactly why my husband and I refuse to buy a home that has a HOA contract.
I know they can be useful and serve a purpose as far as keeping the area nice for everyone living there, etc. But we just feel it would be like we didn't fully own our home and land. Like we had "lords" over it.
So, we've turned down some lovely places and are looking for a home, more in the country. No subdivisions, That's in a nice area with no HOA restrictions.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 7:38AM
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Have you thought about planting some invasive bamboo? It grows fast and will take over the world! Nobody could get thru it without a machete. I hate the fact that someone can tell you what you can do with property you own.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 10:09PM
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There are no easy answers to your situation.

Fighting legal battles takes money. However, there may be a few avenues that you might try to obtain some free or reduced price legal assistance.

In other parts of the US, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been involved in the issue of individual homeowner's rights. They currently have actions in New Jersey and California pending.

Perhaps you have a law school near your home. You might find a professor or a class that would be interested in assisting you in your quest for a fence. The issue of Homeowner Association power vs homeowner rights is a growing one across the country. Many argue that HOAs are "private governments" and that persons who live within them should have rights similar to those provided by our public governments.

There are also legal aid societies in many communities. However, most have a "means test". That is, you must prove you are a person of modest means to obtain legal services.

However, none of the options negates the legal fees that you may be required to reimburse to your HOA if you should lose a case and be required to pay the HOA's legal fees.

If you are so minded, you could even represent yourself pro se. However, I do not recommend this approach as a competent attorney would be very difficult to battle. Also, the personal time and stress would be significant.

Unfortunately, regardless of whether you "win" or lose in a court of law, you will continue to have to live amongst your neighbors. Emerging victorious in the fence fight will only anger them more. You should strongly consider moving to another home.

Regarding a downpayment, if you have excellent credit, you would likely qualify for a number of lending programs that require no money down. Approach a large national mortgage lender about an "80/20" loan. An 80/20 can carry an attractive fixed rate as well as provide 100% financing. The first mortgage is in the amount of 80% of the purchase price. A second mortgage is also provided for the remaining 20% of the purchase price, usually at a higher interest rate because of the additional risk it carries. The blended rate between the two is still very reasonable, and less expensive than being required to purchase private mortgage insurance.

Another thought would be action against the realtor (if there was one involved in the purchase of your current home) and/or the former owners. If they inaccurately represented to you the fact that you would be allowed to erect a fence, they may have some liability to you for purchasing the home in reliance of their representation. However, you need an attorney for this, and attorneys do cost money - sometimes lots of it. Of course, you may be able to find an attorney to take the case on contingency - an arrangement whereby you only pay the attorney if you are successful - usually 33%. It is highly likely that the realtor or former homeowner have liability insurance. Insurance companies ususally favor settling these types of cases rather than bear the expense of taking a case to trial and then taking the risk of potentially losing.

You might also check out the website It is maintained by a gentleman who is actively working to correct the abuses that HOAs sometimes engage in - as it sounds is the case with you. You might also consider contacting him for some free advice.

I have been involved in these situations assisting clients. The legal expense usually isn't the worst part of the journey. Think about the time you are spending on this instead of with your family. Think about how unhappy you are with your neighbors. Think about the safety of your children. In these situations, I believe your time and your happiness are more important than the expense. Strongly consider moving out of your neighborhood. Yes, you will have lost several thousand dollars, but those are sunk costs - they are gone and you will not get them back.

Good luck in your effort.

Rotten Tomato

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 11:34PM
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Another thought.

Many states and municipalities require protective fencing around swimming pools. I do not, however, know whether this would provide you with the ability to erect a fence if that is in conflict with the HOA rules. However, most areas require a four foot high fence with a self closing gate around a swimming pool.

A reputable swimming pool provider should be able to give you insight into this issue and how it has been dealt with in other HOAs. Another resource might be the state's attorney general who could point you to the appropriate state agency to provide information on pool fencing laws and if state law would supercede HOA rules against fences.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 11:58PM
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bungalow_mikee(z10 CA)

Hi Sommer,
Wow, I totally sympathize with you.
I'm surrounded by the most annoying neighbors in L.A.
Though this is an up and coming part of L.A., there are still lots of trash in the neighborhood.
My neighbor on the right is like the character from "Throw Momma from the Train". When I first moved in, I was disturbed by all the arguments they were having. I'm sensitive to noise of any kind and they started their arguments at 5 am! I've since grown used to antics and now find it humorous. The police won't come to break up their arguments anymore because they've called them so many times.
They have to call the police using a neighbor's phone. (They have about 10 visitations from the police since I've moved in summer '03).

My neighbor on the right have tried to turn their dwelling into a multi-family dwelling, though it is zoned as R1.
Lots of hanging out lately, increased noise, music, yelling.
The latest update- they have a 18-wheeler tractor truck parked in the back of the house! Hopefully this is temporary.

I've recently discovered that the two houses acrosses the street are multi-family dwellings also. One house has loud parties every other week and uses their leaf blower EVERY DAY. I kid you not! I was wondering why my porch always gets so dusty. The annoying thing- the blower seems to be a very
low HP, electric, so it takes them 20 minutes of leaf blowing to gather it to street level- not just their property but the alley which points at my house.

I'm planning to plant some golden bamboo at the sidewalk level to cut down some noise and dust. I don't know about your zone, but I've seen golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea)
grow extremely dense in CA. As dense as any plant.
They are also the most common so you may be able to find them for free. This is the running variety.

You can also try Bambusa oldhamii which is non invasive. It does need room to grow. It grow very tall and straight.
My oldhamii is now almost 3 stories and was 5 feet when I got it. They shoot and grow in the spring and summer, reaches full height by fall generally. In the next spring new shoots will come out like Athena from the head of Zeus,
and by fall, be double the diameter of height of last year's shoots. This is the case with my oldhamii and BAMBUSA vulgaris 'Vittata'. These are both clumpers and considered non invasive. They do need room to grow- the root mass will get bigger and bigger each year.

Along with the golden bamboo at the sidewalk level, I'm considering planting bambusa lako in the front yard- black bamboo with occasional green stripes.

There's many sources of free bamboo. Here we have craigslist and recycler. I'm not sure about your area.
I know St. Louis has a listing, as does Kansas City from a quick googling. It's not the size of the plant that matters as much as the size of the root ball. The bigger the root ball, the faster and taller your shoots will come up..
A new oldhamii I acquired this spring had two bare 1.5" stalks. They were topped off 4 ft high and no leaves, but the root ball was watermelon size, and now, I have 4 shoots growing. One of them is taller than the original 4 ft stalks which also have hundreds of leaves.

With all that said, I hope they do not veto your plant choices. I wish you the best. I don't want to move out of my place, but it seems like if there is an annoyance my neighbors seem to find a way to achieve it.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 2:44PM
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I know this is an old thread to dredge up but I was a little curious as to how this resolved itself? Sommer, did you ever get your fence? My folks lived with a HOA and it was an utter nightmare. I hope you are able to get yourself out of this situation. If I may be so brazen to say, you seem like a really nice person but you're trying to "play fair" in a situation where it appears to be grossly unfair. I hope you've brought this into the local limelight where you are. The inactivity of the judge and lawyer makes me think there's some good ol' boys at work higher up who know your neighbors. Don't lay down your rights or be afraid to use the connections you have and any and every group that you can tell your plight to who may be able to help. The only thing bullies hate more than being stood up to is having their ugliness showcased. Give 'em h*ll, southern style! ;)

    Bookmark   November 6, 2005 at 11:06PM
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i am also curious

    Bookmark   November 28, 2005 at 10:29PM
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Nothing has ever been resolved .. We still live here.. I have planted many hedges to attempt to slow down our kids from heading to the busy road...

Our neighbor(s) still hate us, and even rake leaves from their yard into our yard... I put up a temp fence around some hedges that were being eaten by our dogs and rabbits and they threatened to take us to court ... I put up some shade around our dogs kennel (lattice that I attached to the kennel) and again they threatened to sue us or take us to court...

I may ask to put up a fence just around our patio, but I am sure they will say no just to spite us ... They do whatever they seem to want, yet "spit" on us ... They all "chat" on the street and glare at us if we look their way ... and if we attempt to wave or be nice , they look the other way ...

We suggested mediation and even had a mediator contact them and they said NO NO NO.... It is hard to imagine that anyone has that much hate in their hearts.

We will not move and least we would hate to move... We are always open for suggestions.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 3:38PM
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I was directed to this discussion in an attempt to learn about using hedges instead of fences in a new neighborhood with small lots and about 12 feet between homes (two story). I purchased a home on a corner lot. THe lot size is 49 feet wide by 100 feet deep. I immediately turned in a fence proposal and was initially told that my fence proposal would be rejected. At that point I got annoyed and purchased 50 thuja giant trees after research on the internet. Then I was notified that my fence has been approved, but with significant setbacks. And the trees arrived yesterday! Now I must decide whether or not to plant the evergreen trees.

Not clear about HOA rules regarding "shrubs" and official rules are a bit vague because there is only a management company -- the HOA has yet to be elected once enough properties are sold.

I am considering planting the trees every five feet along an acceptable line and seeing what happens. The neighbors don't yet exist and the management company is 60 miles away. The plants were 500 dollars, the fence will be 6,000 dollars. Would trim to nice compact hedge as they grow.

Unfortunately, this site became an HOA forum and answered little about the attractiveness of a hedge. I have no desire to proceed planting the trees if this will be ugly compared to a nice wrought iron look metal fence 48" high. The fence is more expensive and provides no privacy. The trees are in boxes in my office and they will die if not planted soon. An option is to plant them on acreage I also own, but I don't really have time for this.

The new community is a little "gimmicky" (I call it a make-believe city) and the homes are overpriced at half-million and going up. It is very attractive though and the homes are all Hardiboard, nice community of 700 homes half still under construction. It is like a little city with all different homes all perfectly lined up, detached two car garages with alley in back. But dogs are already using my corner lot (all sodded and landscaped) as a toilet (sidewalk runs around the front and side). I want to create a border and I thought the trees (hedges if trimmed that way, but at this point would look like 2 foot high little evergreen trees) would provide a privacy screen eventually and would mark the property to discourage casual trespassing. The HOA essentially approved a back yard fence and I am unsure about their wording on the side yard (they requie a front yard setback on the side street but probably don't realize that there are no homes facing that side street). I am afraid that if the fence is too limited (such as only the small back yard) the appearance might be more of a "corral" (a cage) than a classy fenced in property. So I am looking for opinions about hedges in a city like environment and have been told by some that hedges are ugly and difficult to tear out later when I come to my senses.

The trees are in boxes and I must do something! We are having a very warm January (D.C. area) and they should do well if planted now. And they will already be in place when the home next door is purchased.

And is there any experience with hedges and HOAs? (I am not requesting another round of complaints about HOAs. I am trying to decide what to do with my trees.) Please realize the FACTS: There is an HOA (or will be). I know that. I will not battle them (end up paying their legal fees). I think the rules are vague and there is an opportunity to establish precedent before the community is occupied (the busybody neighbors who will run for the HOA don't exist yet). Just wondering if anyone has any specific insight or experience with trees or hedges or evergreens, and HOAs.

Maybe someone knows a website that will show me pictures of evergreen hedges in a city like neighborhood. Maybe this is an ugly idea and I should get the fence!

Appreciate any insight.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 8:42AM
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I'd love to hear experienced gardeners comment on which would give the most vertical growth in the first year: privet or Lombardy Popular. I'm not interested in the long term pros/cons of each; I need some separation from my neighbors ASAP. I've ruled out Hybrid willows as too unattractive.

Thanks in advance,

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 9:25AM
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HOA or no HOA --- not sure of the ages of your children....but try looking for the Today's Kids Play Yards. They are no longer available in stores, but thrift stores and yard sales are the best places to pick them up. eBay has them..but can be pricey! If I had any right now I'd send them to you!! Keep adding more panels until you have a really nice 'play Yard' for your kids! The link below shows you an example. Good Luck! PS: it's not a fence, it's a self-contained play yard.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 11:20PM
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If this is such a problem then why live there. If the other houses have not been built, then do what you want and let them sort it out later. Surely if you have your stuff done before any rules are set up you would be an exception to the rules.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 2:00AM
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Is this thread still going? (That was rhetorical.)

Take a look here:

    Bookmark   April 16, 2006 at 4:44AM
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My heart goes out to you as I read your saga.

Here are a few items that may be of assistance, they are not garden related but may help you enjoy your yard and not have to worry about your children.

There is DIRT, an internet discussion group that is a service of American Bar Association and University of Missouri Law School that has a real estate focus. Post your story there and see what ideads that have. Ask if there is existing case law that would support your claim

There is a legal concept of "unreasonable decision making" when a HOA does this, in some states the court will not allow them to restrict your actions. To be reasonable the decisions have to be documented and consistent.

Some HOA have buried in them a clause that gives you the right to call for Arbitration to resolve an issue.

I will pray that justice prevails.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 9:50PM
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obrienforensics(7-8 NC)

I am at a loss having just read/scanned ALL the posts on this site about hedges/fences/HOA's/etc. Sounds like a lot of info is missing from ongoing saga, and something is really wrong in sommer's neighborhood.

BUT, what about the cheap forsythia? Doesn't it grow in MO? WE used it up by the road in CT and it gerw instantaneously; its branches survive the winter and still block access, it is pretty with yellow flowers, self-roots or can be rooted in water and grows as high as you want...

Where did sommer end up?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 7:30PM
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Apologies for reviving an older thread, but since it seems it was never resolved, I thought I'd post another suggestion.

As has been mentioned before, most shrubs and hedges don't do well for keeping kids and pets from trying to squeeze through them.

My suggestion would be to go with something that makes them regret trying. Something like a Washington Hawthorn.

It gets some rather nasty thorns on it that very few animals/people are going to want to try to climb through. They can get rather tall if that's what you want (over 20').

They flower in the spring and the leaves turn red in the fall.

It loses it's leaves in the winter, but the branches are pretty dense, so it can still afford at least a little privacy.

And, if you're really lucky, the thorns will nail a couple of your nasty neighbors!

Not sure about growth rates, though.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 4:00AM
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Forget the shrubs, the trees, the trellises. What you need is an INVISIBLE FENCE. The caveat being, it will keep YOUR pets IN, BUT NOT other's pets OUT. Also, won't work for kids (shouldn't be too long before they could climb the fence anyway). For the time-being you'll just have to child-proof your doors and supervise them when they're out. The GOOD news is that you can have the invisible fence installed immediately. The best one is THE INVISIBLE FENCE Brand and there are locations in Missouri. ALSO, they will work with you to train your pets. Let me know if this helps.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 5:57PM
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I can't believe this, and it is hard reading it all. I would suggest for now to plant roses since they have thorns, your kids would not try to go through them. I would keep the house up for sale until someone buys it. remember your neighbors bought theirs, and you bought yours. someone will bit someday.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 7:49AM
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i have a friend that suggested fast growing pine trees. not sure what kind they are. i wouldn't want to be able to even see my neighbors so i take back the rose idea. bamboo would cause them to really get angry as it is very invasive. i am not sure why people plant it.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:00AM
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Scotch Pine Tree A magnificent tree, tall and stately, will grow up to 2 feet in a season. Pyramidal when young, then develops to conical to columnar-conical shape. Grows in a pyramidal form, 40-75 feet tall. Stiff, bluish-green needles stay dense and thick all year long, block wind with a vengeance.

To 50 - 100 feet tall with a 20 - 28 foot spread. Zones 2 to 8 - evergreen

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 8:02AM
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The original post on this thread is from February, 2003 - 8 years ago. By now the OP's kids are grown up, dogs are dead and the problem no longer exists. Or, he's sold the house and moved somewhere less restrictive.

The idea of planting any kind of hedge to keep kids/dogs in the yard is ludicrous as everything takes time to grow and he was looking for an immediate solution.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 10:46AM
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Since I am very late to this party, but did read all the posts, I'm still going to put in my two cents worth.

I'd simply leave the house. Literally walk away. Life is TOO SHORT to stay. Other than renting it out, you'd have to declare bankruptcy to get out, but foreclosure would put it back in the bank's hands.

Then wouldn't the neighbors love it when it sat empty for years or when sold for 100k under the original sales price, and LOWERED THEIR HOME VALUES!!!! Payback's a beyotch.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 4:35AM
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