Some of us consider fences or walls to be a necessary part of our homes and gardens. Others feel enclosed and unfriendly behind a fence. Sometimes, no matter how we feel, fences are necessary.
In our county, dogs are not allowed to run free. During times of rabies danger it is very important to keep our dogs confined, and usually fences seem better than collars and chains.
Many neighborhoods have ordinances regulating fences and walls. Underground utilities must be marked before fence holes are dug. Always call Blue Stake - 811 - before you dig. (I learned the hard way! My underground telephone line was just inches under the grass and only after my phone stopped ringing for several days did I realize how easy it was to cut the line with my garden spade!) Sometimes, building permits are required for fences and you may be forced to remove a fence if it was put up without one. "Temporary" fences, those which are not set in concrete, may often be built without a permit and placed in or across easements where permanent structures are not allowed.
When walls and fences are built on the lot line, costs and maintenance are usually shared by neighbors. Fences entirely owned by one residence are put about two feet inside the lot line. Both sides can then be maintained without trespassing.
If wind control is important, a wall or fence that filters the wind is best. A solid wall simply lifts the wind up and over. There are lots of block walls with lovely wind-filtering patterns in our area. Wood fences are not so common here, but are available if you want them. Open wood fences fortified with wire are pretty and don't block out the distant view. The upright posts are sunk in concrete so that they don't come in contact with the soil. The concrete is sloped away from the posts to enable water to drain away from the wood.
Chain link used to be a sign of affluence and that is why it was put in front yards in older neighborhoods. It is sturdy and practical, so a lot is still used. It isn't considered beautiful any more, but it can be a perfect support for evergreen and flowering vines while safely confining dogs and children.
If gardens need to be protected from wildlife, there are several different fences to try. Unfortunately most are expensive. Live ocotillo fencing is a wonderful garden "fence". It comes in five foot sections, thorn free, and ready to root. (For information see our newsletter of June 1992.) A lovely old ocotillo fence can be seen by the Boot Hill parking lot in Tombstone and also around some of the graves in the cemetery.
Electric fencing keeps out deer. Very high fencing, two parallel fences, or tilted fencing may also protect gardens from deer. Heavy wire deters javelina. Wire fencing buried 18 inches deep discourages gophers and rabbits. High tensile wire fencing is another practical fence, lasting longer than woven wire. It does not sag, withstands livestock pressure, looks nice, can be electrified, and doesn't damage livestock hides or human hands. It is very adaptable and has been used in one to ten strand designs.
Once you have decided what kind of fence or wall you need, be prepared for a wait, unless you are going to build it yourself. Our area is growing so rapidly that any building or construction requires becoming part of a waiting list this year. I'll be waiting with you, hoping that the deer will leave at least a little of my garden to put the fence around.