Borders, Boundaries and Butter Knives

Psssst. I have successfully infiltrated the senior duplex/strata side of our fence.

Shortly after buying our house we noted the backside of our fence had never been painted in 20 years and was surely considered a hideous eyesore for those residing in their newly built pristine duplexes.

How they must have cursed their neighbours!

Or maybe not.

Maybe they cursed their strata.

Whose responsibility IS the other side of a fence when a private residential lot backs onto a green space/parking lot owned by a strata?

I did a bit of gentle inquiring and then decided given it was our fence that was decaying before the duplex owners eyes and the remedy would take less than two gallons of stain and a couple hours of my time, it would be better to ask forgiveness than permission.

The aforementioned gate for the purpose of sneaking a garden in along the back fence was still just a thing percolating in my imagination, so I loaded up an empty railing planter with a gallon of paint, a stir stick, some disposable gloves and my trusty butter knife which serves the dual purpose of scraping off moss and lichen and opening paint cans.

That’s right.

We own a hardware store and my painting tool of choice is a kitchen butter knife.

It is what it is.

With my painting ingredients somewhat perilously balanced on the fence rail I quickly walked around the block and through the parking lot to the other side. It took me about five minutes just to get to the other side of the fence.

Again, can you think gate?

The neighbours didn’t take long to notice me but their reaction was enthusiastic. It soon became clear that everyone felt the fence-both sides-were indeed our responsibility and it was about time someone showed up with a paint can in hand. And a butter knife.

“I told the last owner the fence needed painting,” one neighbour shared. “He just said, Really? It looks good from my side!”

There was no malice in his words, just laughter. I have got the impression from all the neighbours that the former owner of our place was incredibly likeable and is missed.

People pleaser that I am, I intended to make up for my own lack of big personality in landscaping and paint.

Yes, I’m shy and quiet, but look at this freshly painted fence! And hey, whaddaya think of a flower border along the fence for your viewing pleasure? Seriously. What do you think of a flower border?

Of course, I said none of those things.

Because I am shy and quiet.

But still, if the other side of the fence has been accepted as being our responsibility than surely two or three feet of soil could be considered ours as well. I mean, a person needs at least that much room to stand on in order to properly wield a paintbrush. Makes perfect sense when you think about it.

In the meantime I have more than enough to plan in the front yard without worrying too much about the backside of the backyard.

And good thing too, as it turns out.

Yesterday I was chatting with another non-duplex neighbour and learned that he has only painted the backside of his fence (which still looks great) twice; once when it was first put up 20 years ago and again about 10 years ago when the duplexes were still figments of the developers imagination and he had to slog through a forest and underbrush to get to the back of the fence.

No wonder the previous owners of our home had never bothered!

And furthermore our neighbour was emphatic that the backside of the back fence was now the strata’s responsibility and not ours.

“I’d be going after them for the cost of your stain and time,” he said.

I won’t be doing that (see the bit about being shy and quiet) but I am hoping I haven’t set some sort of precedent for all the other people whose homes back onto the duplex/parking spaces.

I have decided to distance myself from the entire situation. I am shelving any idea of gates or back fence gardens. I am staying inside my borders and pretending none of this ever happened.

Who knew living in town could be so complicated?