how do I add privacy/dog safety fencing to an existing chain link fence?
April 23, 2016 4:50 PM   Subscribe

There's a 3 foot high chain link fence between our yard and the neighbors'. We'd like to put up a privacy fence there to keep out their dogs and block our view of their yard. How do we do that?

Our neighbors' dog has been acting aggressively toward our kids when they're in the yard, and talking to them about it doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere. We're worried the dog is going to jump the fence and hurt the kids.

So, we're thinking this might be a "good fences make good neighbors" situation. And we wouldn't mind having a privacy fence between our yards anyway. But how do we deal with the existing chain link fence? Do we build a new row of wooden fencing just inside of it? Or will that look too ugly on the neighbors' side? Removing the chain link fence seems like it would be extremely expensive and difficult.

I have no idea whom the chain link fence actually belongs to -- in our stretch of houses all the yards have them so I'm not sure if they're original and sort of jointly owned or if one homeowner or the other put in this fence at some point. I'm not sure how to go about finding that out.

We'd very much appreciate some advice on what/how to build! Thanks very much, metafilter.
posted by gerstle to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
You locale may have particular regulations regarding fences, but the standard way to do this is to put the privacy fence on your side of the property line abutting the chain link fence.
posted by procrastination at 4:56 PM on April 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

Ugh, seems like either way you're going to need some minimal cooperation from them to keep the dogs in while you build the fence. Either they'll get out while removing the chain link or it will be really unpleasant trying to build something with an unhappy dog inches away. I vote for offering to pay for it if they keep the dogs away for the duration, and replacing the whole thing. (it will involve digging up posts set in concrete, probably, which is a pain in the ass)

If you go with the fence some distance on your own side, don't forget to give them written permission to use the part of your property on their side of the fence. If they have permission, they can't claim adverse possession decades later, and it's in writing who actually owns what regardless of the fence when either of you go to sell the property later.
posted by ctmf at 5:02 PM on April 23, 2016

One option is to attach bamboo or wicker panels to the existing cyclone fence. Sorry I can't link examples, but just Google it. Wayfair, home depot and others carry them, in various sizes, and they can add height and privacy. I've never used them but considered it. They look nice, but not sure how much you have to cover. You can also just build a wooden fence section in front of it. I've done that for privacy, like an 8 ft section ,(2 posts, no cement) and you lose a bit of yard but it was worth it for me, 6ft high and I grew plants on it and it looked nice.
posted by j810c at 5:06 PM on April 23, 2016

As far as removing the chain link fence, how difficult it is depends on how well it was installed. A good installation would mean the posts could be like 5 feet down and set in concrete. What you can do is just dig a short distance down around the posts and then cut the posts below ground level. My neighbors did that last year and they said it was pretty easy.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:09 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

There are two houses whose yards back up to ours. Both have chain link fences. The owners of one house had several large dogs, and the owners of the other house complained about this. So the dog owners had a wooden privacy fence installed along that side of the yard. I was able to see most of this, and from what I could tell the wooden fence is right next to, but not actually touching, the existing chain link fence. I never saw the fence installers go into the other yard - they just dug holes next to the fence, put posts in, put in the wood sections, and left. So the one house has their chain link fence still intact, and the other house has the privacy fence, and everyone is happy.
posted by ralan at 5:26 PM on April 23, 2016

3 feet is tough. If it was taller, you can use special brackets and lumber to build an exceedingly sturdy fence off the existing steel posts, but I wouldn't do it off 3 feet.

One thing that I can add is that when we replaced a chain link fence with a privacy fence, a local tree/landscaping company came out and plucked the posts out - concrete plugs and all - with a bobcat, for an eminently reasonable price. This made it especially easy to drop new wooden privacy fence posts into the existing holes. That's all I have!
posted by ftm at 5:58 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

When my mom had this problem, she planted a long row of Arborvitae, close enough together so you couldn't see past them.

You'd have to put them on your property, on your side of the fence. But you wouldn't need any cooperation from your neighbor while you were planting them.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:01 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Check your town or community website for information on rules for fences. Generally, though, I'd suggest installing a wood fence on your side. It doesn't have to be ugly for your neighbors. It's worth checking in with them -- they might be glad to get rid of the chain link and pay half the cost of a wood fence installation. My husband is a contractor who has built several fences. This isn't a huge deal and wouldn't take that long, even if you removed the old fence.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:20 PM on April 23, 2016

I dont think I'd want to remove the fence. Dogs can chew and damage wooden fences. I'd prefer to have the chain link up to ensure the dogs aren't getting in my yard. Also, a buffer of a foot might help the dogs be quieter - I'm guessing they are being territorial and a little extra space might be good for both of you! Good luck.
posted by beccaj at 8:25 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is the way you do this: you approach your neighbors with the "good fences make good neighbors" speech and ask if they want to share the cost of installing a fence. If they say yes, you get an estimate that includes removing the wire fence and replacing it with a privacy fence, split the cost and everyone is happy. If they say no, you pay to erect a privacy fence right up next to the wire fence and move on. If it isn't pleasant to look at on their side, it's not your problem. Period.
posted by raisingsand at 9:44 PM on April 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

The first step is to locate the property boundaries (using a professional surveyor if necessary) to understand where the property line is relative to the current fence. Then you probably need to check in with the planning office to ensure that your plans are legal.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:36 AM on April 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

Forgot one step...add in the sweetener that if he pays half, he can have the "good" straight side facing his yard and you will take the side with the cross braces. And by the way, this is the way it's been done ever since neighbors have been putting up wooden fences. It's a very, very common method, so move forward with confidence that this is just the way it's handled.
posted by raisingsand at 6:57 AM on April 27, 2016

We talked to the neighbors and ended up building a section of fencing inside of the chain link fence -- my husband's out there finishing it today. Thank you so much for your help with this, metafilter -- building a fence inside a fence seemed crazy to me, so I needed some community feedback telling me it was a thing people did.

We're looking forward to getting the yard back!
posted by gerstle at 11:13 AM on May 8, 2016

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