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Breaking Down Barriers to Shared Open Space

Anne Marie Chaker reports on the emergence of the "shared backyard," in which a surprising number of neighbors are combining resources to create bigger gardens and more space to entertain.
June 15, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The American dream might really be in for a rethink. With sprawl in (possible) retreat, and the suburbs going through radical changes, neighbors are now ripping out their white picket fences to reap the benefits of shared backyards. Chaker profiles a variety of projects, from communal landscaping to shared gardens and dining spaces, in which, "homeowners are bucking the notion that good fences make good neighbors."

While "Communal living does tend to give real-estate agents pause," notes Chaker,"Yard-sharing is rare in new developments of single-family homes, big builders say, with privacy fences often required under community covenants and building codes."

"A shared yard could damp an individual home's value and prolong the time spent on the market, says San Jose, Calif., real-estate broker Denise Shur. When a fence isn't there, she says, 'potential buyers instantly start calculating the cost' to build one."

If the trend continues, shared backyards may become a desired amenity, rather than a perceived liability. 


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Published on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal
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