Community Post

Townhouse fences…a challenge

I like many in the Central District live in a Townhouse. My partner and I didn’t necessarily want to purchase one of these, but after looking and realizing the prices of houses, it was the closest thing we could get. After an exhaustive search we found one that was pretty well designed (I’m a designer…very picky). But there was that horribly ugly fence in front that is functional (keeps the dog in) and not very aesthetically pleasing. We are in pursuit of ideas to make it more friendly, more green, and less like a big wall.

Here’s my question: Has anyone done any nice plantings or altered their fence to make it look nicer? We have some ideas we’re trying out but thought it might be fun to see what some other CD’ers are doing.


Maybe we could make this into a challenge. Show the builders/developers of these homes that they could do more than just build walls…for not that much money! Just an idea =)

0 thoughts on “Townhouse fences…a challenge

  1. Take a look at these new townhomes on 26th Ave S. The developer was going to put up the usual wood fences to screen the home off from the outer world, but at the suggestion of neighbors, opted instead to plant some trees and bushes out front. It looks much more inviting and “neighborhood-friendly,” but neither of the homes fronting the street have sold yet.

  2. I understand the usefulness of the height to keep the dog in! Something I think looks nice is when the top portion is a type of lattice. You could train a vine along the lattice to add some greenery and plant some tall, soft, grass type plants in front of the fence. That way you can keep the height for the dog while also making it look nicer and softer. Staining it a warm color could also help.

  3. Our City is in the midst of proposing new zoning rules:

    which do deal with fencing. Couple of pertinent extracts:
    2. Fences, freestanding structures, bulkheads, arbors, signs and other
    similar structures are permitted in any required setback pursuant to Sections 23.44.014C,
    and 23.45A.030, except that fences in required setbacks facing a street may not exceed
    four feet (4’) in height, unless provided to screen parking areas, pursuant to subsection

    . Screening of parking.

    1. Parking must be screened from direct street view by the front facade of
    a structure, by garage doors, or by a fence or wall between four feet (4’) and six feet (6’)
    in height. When the fence or wall parallels a street, a minimum three foot (3’) deep
    landscaped area is required on the street side of the fence or wall. The screening may not
    be located within any required sight triangle.

    The newly formed Central Area Neighborhood Plan Updating, Land-Use, Open Space and Housing Committee met for the first time last night, and is interested in such issues:

  4. I find that in walking my dog I see some really beautiful frontyard fence ideas around the 19th/20th/21st Avenue blocks between Madison and Jefferson. If I catch an actual address I’ll be sure to post it!

  5. Indeed a good challenge. I agree that 6′ ht. solid fence facing the street like that is the same thing with saying @$cK! you to our neighbors and community, plus it makes the property more scrutinized from safety standpoint. It is preferrable to have your neighbor across the street to be able to view your front door and windows, avoiding a lot of burglary and trespassing problems. Mr. Taylor is correct, front fence should be limited to 4′ ht. and open design (solid enough to keep the pets inside). Below is several examples:
    If I come across more information, I’ll post it here.

    Good luck!

  6. Andrew: Is the Central Area Neighborhood Plan Committee the same one as was written about on this site earlier last week. I thought that committee was meeting on the first Thursday of each month a Garfield CC. I could not make last week (thought it was also moved to Madrona Park Shelter that week), but was hoping to make next month and get involved. Is the committee you speak of something different? If so, how does it relate to the stewardship committee (if at all)?

  7. I am grateful to all of you working on this issue. The pedestrian environment is severely damaged by high fences built right to the edge of the sidewalk.

    Lattice-work where possible is a great option. There’s a single-family home at 25th & Marion that has a nice open fence that keeps a dog in but keeps the lot neighbor-friendly that I think is worth checking out.

    Finally, on plants – please be careful with the big grass plants. The ones that were put on 25th north of Union on the east side are growing into the sidewalk something fierce and don’t seem really wise to be used on planting strips.

  8. Agreed on the plants that take over the sidewalk. I know the place you mentioned and the plants are taking up 1/2 the walkway.

    Does anyone have an idea about what could be a sun hardy, drought tolerant, tallish but not big and bushy plant that could go into a small planting strip between a fence and the sidewalk? I’m interested in planting something in a similar sized space.

  9. The developer on my street (27th north of Howell) did some nice wrought iron fences on one set of ugly townhouses, then he left all fences off his next project of very nice townhouses. Some neighbors have picket fences that seem to keep in the dogs ok. Sad for me, I’m in an older PUD with fenced decks in front. Try as I might, the other owners won’t let me build a real front porch on my house which would be be too much like right!

    Yeslerway and any others interested: The Central Area Stewardship (meeting the first Thursday of each month at Garfield except last week) is overall responsible for the Neighborhood Plan, working on projects each year. The Plan is huge and includes components of Land Use, Urban Design, Economic Development, Housing, Transportation, Human Development and Infrastructure.

    In anticipation of the coming plan update process, given that the Central Area did not get Design Guidelines implemented, and because of current activities in city government, some members of the Stewardship started a Land Use, Open Space and Housing Committee. All are welcome! Email me: [email protected]

    As well, if after you study the above plan, you are interested in updating Transportation, Economic Development, Human Development, or other components, you too could start a committee. Come by the Stewardship meeting on May 1 or contact steward.

  10. I wanted more green around my townhouse fence and added a support for a wisteria vine and have really nice plantings on the outside of the fence. It is nice to have a private yard, so I like the taller fence, but I agree that they should be more interesting and pleasing to the eye than just a wall of wood.

  11. All the commintitys bound togegether and pant something that the whole commitnity can work together and get all sorts of non- toxic matarials and fun things to us to bound the nieghbeihood better. Thank for your time, Viva Bader- Baker

  12. If you think yours is ugly you should check out the corrugated steel monstrosities that are being installed at the new apartments on the west side of 18th between Pike and Pine. I swear they must be gunning for “ugliest townhome of the year”. At least the walls/fences have got a bit of planting area in front. Hopefully they’ll find a way to obscure them a bit. On the plus side, neighbors may be able to fry hot dogs on them during sunny days.