A few months ago, our next door neighbor ( whom we don't get along with
because he complains about EVERYTHING ALL the time ), put up three
sections of 6' x 8' foot panels of wooden stockade fencing in the
backyard where his garden is located, on our shared property line.
He didn't want our kids to throw any balls into his precious vegatable
garden when they are out playing soccer or baseball in the backyard.
Plus, there are deer in the wooded area behind our home, and last year
the deer ate his tomato plants on him, so he also put up the wooden
stockade fence, to keep the deer out.
Anyway, because he does a vegatable garden every single year, he has
removed ALOT of his soil from where his garden area is, so our backyard
is up higher than his garden area.
Well, when he installed the fence, he installed it about 3-4 inches back
from the property line, toward his garden, but he didn't want the grass
or soil on the property line touching his fence, so he dug out a big
trench about 2-3 feet deep, and 2 feet wide from the property line to
So if you went right up to the property line, there was a big slooping
trench 2-3 feet deep, and 2 feet wide on the property line, that went up
to his fence, which was about 3 inches back from the property line.
When the kids played baseball in the backyard, the balls kept going into
the slooping trench and underneath his fence and into his garden, which
he started complaining about. Then when my husband mowed the lawn a
couple of weeks ago, our push lawnmower slid right down into the trench,
and the front wheel got stuck under his fence. And last week my 5 year
old daughter and her cousin were playing baseball in the backyard, and
my daughter ran over to get the ball near the trench, and she fell into
the trench and almost broke her ankle and foot.
So last weekend, my husband in I bought about 15-20 bags of topsoil and
filled the trench in, smoothed it out, and seeded it with grass seed.
Well my nosy neighbor saw us watering the grass seed all week, and was
wondering why we were watering his fence?? So 2 days ago, he decided to
walk over into OUR yard, to see why we kept watering near his fence, and
he saw that we filled the trench in with soil.
So yesterday we got into a big fight with him, because he is all mad,
because he says that his wooden spruce fence is now buried in 2 feet of
topsoil, and that the soil is going to rot his fence away!! I told him
that we planted grass seed there, and the grass isn't going to harm the
fence, but he says the soil under the grass is going to rot the fence!!
He complained that its HIS fence, and he paid for it, and plus its back
about 4 inches from the property line. But, I told him that the the
slooping 2-3 foot deep trench that he dug out was right ON the shared
property line, and that my daughter almost broke her foot in it last
week, along with our lawnmower getting stuck under there, and his
CONSTANT complaints about the kids balls ending up in his precious
He said that if we wanted to put soil there, we should have put a board
up against his fence first, and then filled it up with soil and grass
seed, that way no soil would be touching his fence to rot it out!!
I felt like telling him that if we wanted, we could get him in trouble
with the city for putting his fence BACKWARDS!!! He put the fence with
the smooth side facing his garden, and he put the inside of the fence
facing our yard. Our city ordinances state that whenever a homeowner
installs a fence in their yard, the smooth side of the fence is suppose
to face the property line of your neighbor, and the inside of the fence
is suppose to face your house. Well he installed the fence backwards in
his backyard, as well as on the side of his house where our shared
property line is.
Plus, he has a "For Sale By Owner" sign in his yard, in which he is
trying to sell his house. So I felt like asking him why is complaining
about how we filled in the trench with soil, when he is trying to sell
But we already know the answer to that!! Thats because he doesn't want
to sell it, and has NO intentions of ever selling it!!! For the past 4
years straight, he always puts his house on the market, EVERY year, NOT
to sell it, but see what kinds of offers he gets. He thinks that someone
is going to offer him like $500,000 for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath cape home
built in 1925.
I know he has NO plans on selling it, because yesterday when he was
arguing with us, he said that because we filled in the trench with 2-3
feet of soil, next year the bottom of the fence which is now buried in
dirt ( on our side of the fence ), is going to be all rotted out, and he
will have to replace it and buy a new fence now!!
So, is this true?? Will the bottom of the fence rot out from having 2-3
feet of topsoil up against it, on our our side of the fence??
If we want to be the good neighbors, and put a piece of wood there like
he said, up against his fence, and then refill it again, what type of
wood should we use??
Should we use something besides wood, like plastic, or plexiglass, or
that "Particle Board" wood??
What about using that cement "Duraboard" stuff that they sell for
bathroom walls as an alternative to sheetrock??
We have some "Waferboard" wood lying around that we don't need, but I
read that "Waferboard" rots out fast??
The one thing I hate, is that we now have some nice, thick green grass
growing there where the "former" slooping trench was. So to put
something there up against his fence, we would now have to dig out and
kill all of the nice baby grass that has already started to sprout, and
go through the process of seeding and watering all over again.
Does anyone have any suggestions of what we should do??
Should we dig up all the soil and baby grass, and put a board or
something else there against his fence, and then fill it back in with
topsoil, and reseed all over again?? If so, what should we use to place
up against his fence??
Should we just ignore him, and let the new grass continue to grow
Sense he is the one who started the fight with us yesterday and starting
complaining, should we complain to, and report him to the city for
installing his fence backwards??
Any suggestions and advice would greatly be appreciated!!
yes, the soil will probably rot the fence unless the wood is weather
treated. I have picket fence that connected to only a little bit of
soil and after about four months began to rot.
I have a similar situation with people throwing soccer balls and other
things into my flowers. I solved it by moving my nice flowers
elsewhere even though it was on my property. This is really
irritating as the kids that threw the balls just didn't care and the
police were too busy to deal with this. I also stopped from growing a
veggie garden because of this--it's just going to break.
Definately check with city code enforcement and first make sure that
everything that's been done is up to code. Ultimately, if something as
minor as this were to go to court for any reason, you'd be protected
because you adhered to code. My city (Escondido, Ca) has a website
with all their codes in building specifications. When I needed to
build a retaining wall, this was the website I downloaded the
information from. Code violations can be really epensive
To answer some of the questions, we don't know if our city requires a
permit to build a wooden stockade fence. We are going to call them (
City Hall ) tomorrow to try to find out.
Also, yes, the day after we got done filling in the ditch with soil, we
got a big thundertorm with HEAVY rain, and a 7 foot long section of
topsoil completely washed away, and we had to refill it the next day
with another 5-6 bags of 40 pound topsoil. So if we have another heavy
rainstorm, it may all wash away again?? But will it wash away, even if
grass is starting to grow there??
We knew that by placing the soil all the way to his fence, that we were
actually filling in his property as well, but the thing is, he dug this
slooping trench right on our shared property line, so we just filled in
the whole thing, not knowing that the soil would rot away the wood.
Yes, we were thinking the same thing today. That maybe we will just put
up own own 4' high chainlink fence, to keep the kids away from there,
so that nobody falls in and breaks an ankle or a foot.
Also, our kids our young ( under 10 ), so when I say that they might
accidently hit a ball into his garden, I am talking about those white
PLASTIC Whiffle-balls, not some heavy baseball that is going to do any
damage to his plants. Plus, its not like a ball lands in his garden
every single day, I say maybe this happens like 3-4 times a year at the
most. But when he had the slooping trench there, for a few months now,
their Whiffle-balls, Nerf balls, etc, etc. kept going down into the
slooping trench, and into his garden. He would never give the balls back
to the kids either, he just threw them into the woods, intead of giving
it back to them.
As I said in my original post, he said that we should have put a piece
of wood up against his fence before filling in the trench. If we have
another heavy rainstorm, and the soil washes all away again, what kind
of wood are we suppose to put there?? Waferboard? Plywood? 2 x 4's?
Plexiglass? Plastic? Concrete Duraboard?
Thanks for all of the great responses, information, and suggestions so
far. Please keep them coming.
Also, to answer your other question regarding the other side of his
house which is fenced, yes, there is also a 6' foot high by 8' feet wide
wooden spruce stockade fence that he and a couple of his friends/family
members installed last year.
YES, that fence ( which is on the right side of his house next to the
neighbors on the other side of him ), that fence faces the CORRECT
direction. The smooth side faces his neighbors house, and the inside of
the fence faces his house and yard.
Also, last summer, when him and his buddies installed a 6' x 8' spruce
stockade fence in his backyard, they put the fence backwards, with the
smooth side facing his backyard and house, and the inside of the fence
facing the woods.
Then this spring, they put up the 6' x 8' foot spruce stockade fence on
the left side of his house on our shared property line, and that fence
is facing backwards as well. He has the smooth side of the fence facing
his house, and the inside of the fence facing our house.
As far as communicating with him, and letting him move the three 6' x 8'
foot wooden stockade fence panels, and moving them to our shared
property line, so that there will no longer be a slooping trench there
for the kids to fall into, or the balls to go under, this wouldn't
really work, because he dug the trench right ON the property line. His
fence is a few inches back from the property line, but he dug the trench
right on our shared property line. So in order for him to cover up the
trench, he would have to place the fence right on our property, which I
doubt he would want to do, sense we don't like each other and don't get
There is no type of wood that is appropriate for this application and is
easily available to you. The problem is that you have a few thousand
pounds of mud pushing against a fence panel. If the mud doesn't cause the
pickets to pop off, it will cause the whole fence to start leaning.
Putting a layer of wood on the back won't help.
If the fence is going to stay, you need an actual retaining wall. It will
be built from concrete, stone, brick, railroad ties, or some other
appropriate material. It will be big and heavy and require lots of digging
and labor to build.
If I were in your shoes, I would offer to move the fence to the top of the
slope on my side of the property line. It could be as low or high as I
liked, and it would provide even better protection for his garden.
Your neighbor has the right to fence his property. He probably has the
right to put the good side facing him. After all it is his fence and he
paid for it. You do not have the right to cross the property line or to add
dirt to his property. If your dirt is washing into his yard he probably is
very unhappy. You are crossing the line and liable if he wishes to take
action. You may put up your own fence on your property if you don't like
I read it a couple of times. The distance of the width of the trench and
the distance of the closest to your property line don't jive for any
appreciable amount of time considering natural erosion, and the depth you
noted. Unless of course the trench is of rock.
Look into putting together a retaining wall out of stacked blocks
(pavestone.com). I just built one last month and although carrying
the blocks around was heavy work, it was super easy to build. You'll
read all this stuff about putting the blocks in many inches of crushed
rock but I didn't nor did I bury the first course and the wall looks
absolutely beautiful. The blocks were about $1.30 each from Home
Depot. The only warning I'd have is to tell your kids to stay away
from it if you build it. The blocks are a little jagged and might hurt
them. But there are other styles you can choose from.
Good luck with this, your neighbor--although sounds like a pain in the
butt--might have a point.
I think you exaggerate a little too much. First for you to complain about
him gardening, is petty, I like gardens, that is what back yards are for.
And how does gardening each year be a cause of his soil level to drop below
For a ditch to be 2 to 3 feet deep and 2 feet wide is very large and could
not be filled in with a mere 15 to 20 bags of topsoil. If the ditch extends
into your side of the property, that was the time to complain as he has no
right to touch your land. If it is all on his property, he can do what he
wants but should support the soil on your side if the slope is not gradual
enough to support the sides. If the ditch is all on his property, install
your own fence on your side of the line to keep your unruly kids enclosed
and prevent balls from crossing. They have no right to trash his garden.
"They have no right to trash his garden!!"
I didn't know that ACCIDENTLY hitting a plastic "Whiffle-ball" into a
garden was considered "trashing a garden"!!!!!
I could see if the kids were running over into his garden and stepping
and stomping on all his plants, then yeah, that would be trashing his
garden. But thats not what they do, as they KNOW that they are not
allowed to go into his yard ( because of his threats to call the police!
But ACCIDENTLY hitting a plastic ball over in his garden like 3-4 times
a year is "trashing it"???
Unless I'm missing something, the basic math here doesn't add up. We
are told that:
"Well, when he installed the fence, he installed it about 3-4 inches
from the property line, toward his garden, but he didn't want the
or soil on the property line touching his fence, so he dug out a big
trench about 2-3 feet deep, and 2 feet wide from the property line to
So if you went right up to the property line, there was a big
trench 2-3 feet deep, and 2 feet wide on the property line, that went
to his fence, which was about 3 inches back from the property line. "
How can you have a 2 ft wide ditch from the property line to his fence
and also have the fence located 3-4 inchs from the property line? If
the fence is 3-4" from the property line and the ditch he dug is on
the OP's side of the fence, which is what it sounds like, then most of
the ditch was dug on the OP's property.
Some pics of this would sure help.
Basicly, if he dug a ditch on the OP's property, then the neighbor is
in the wrong. If the fence and ditch are entirely on his property,
then he could be OK in that regard, but all local ordinances would
still apply. I would think an unmarked 2 ft wide by 3 ft deep ditch
dug by anyone on the edge of their property would be of interest to
the local code official. Even if nothing specifically addresses it,
it could very well fall under some general category of creating a
unsafe/dangerous condition on the property.
Is it a "wiffle-ball", is it 3 to 4 times a year, do you really know
everything that is going on with your children. Your other descriptions
don't add up, so exaggeration is assumed, so it can be assumed that you
minimize the actions from your side. You need to assume responsibility for
you and your children, and need to be honest with your descriptions. Your
neighbor seems to be overreacting and this is escalating into a battle. Meet
with him and settle your augments like adults. Fence in your backyard to
contain the children's games, to prevent them from spilling into his yard.
His garden is not intruding into your yard.
The solution is simple. He was supposed to install retaining wall
blocks or timbers to shore up the land cut before installing the
Tell him you'll clear out the soil you installed and leave him a level
base where he can install the appropriate support.
We had another thunderstorm here last night, with more heavy rain, and
so it looks like that more Topsoil got washed away down towards the
wooded area in back of our home. So when I get the chance, I will go out
there with a tape measure to measure the actually length, width, and
depth of the trench that he dug out.
Also, someone asked how would his vegetable gardening would cause him to
lose soil?? I don't know what he did with all the soil from his garden,
but for some reason, our backyards are both level and at the same
height, until you get to behind his garage where his vegetable garden
area is, where he dug this trench and installed the fence. Our grass
backyard in this area, is like 3-4 feet ( rough estitmate ), higher up
than where his garden is.
Before this fence was installed, the property line WAS around this
height as well, and then it would slope down toward his garden where he
used to have a smaller 3' x 8' foot wooden picket fence, which was a few
feet FARTHER back from where this newer one is now. He got rid of that
fence, because the deer would come out at night, and just stick their
head and necks right over the 3' foot fence and eat his vegetable
So when he installed this newer 6' x 8' foot wooden stockade fence, he
put it CLOSER towards the property line so that he would have more space
for his garden, and he installed it about 4 inches back from the
property line. But because the property line, and right around the
property line on his side as well as our side was higher up than his
garden, he didn't want the grass and dirt to be touching the fence, so
he dug out all the grass and dirt right on the property line, leaving
this huge unsafe trench there.