Your home should be about serenity, so follow these tips and tune out the chaos
- Last Updated: 1:59 AM, July 12, 2012
- Posted: 10:47 PM, July 11, 2012
Your home is your haven. No matter where you live, the goal is to keep the clamor and chaos of the outside world far removed — out of sight and earshot if possible — even when you’re barbecuing on the deck or soaking up the sun on your lawn.
It can be challenging to block out all the external noises and annoying visuals of the neighbors — how many peaceful Sundays are ruined by screaming kids in backyard pools or worse, raucous revelers in summer shares? — but there are ways to restore your privacy and make your home your sanctuary again. Here are four ideas for keeping things tranquil.
LANDSCAPE. Trees and shrubs can form an effective noise barrier, particularly when planted close together to form a dense green wall. Evergreens offer a natural screen throughout most of the year. Depending on the size and species, evergreens start at around $50 and can go up into the hundreds of dollars. Fast-growing Thuja Green Giant evergreens grow 3 to 5 feet a year; Willow Hybrid, also known as Austree, can grow 6 to 10 feet annually. Flowering almond and azalea can create short but thick barriers. Rhododendrons and hollies are considered good noise reducers, too.
ADD YOUR OWN SOUNDTRACK. Wind chimes and water features can mask undesirable noise and create soothing sounds. Rain chains, which drain water to the ground from your gutter, transform ordinary gutters into waterfalls. Freestanding water walls — which can be made of copper, marble, slate, stainless steel or acrylic — can also be effective weapons in drowning out unwanted noise. Water features start at around $125.
FENCE ME IN. Though attractive, a white picket fence does little to dampen noise. For a fence to be an effective barrier, it has to be solid and tall. Such fences can be inexpensive, and though not terribly attractive, they can be covered with English ivy, honeysuckle, trumpet vine, morning glories or other vines and trailing plants. If you have the budget for it, a masonry, stone, brick or stucco-covered concrete wall is most effective for blocking sound. As for height, if you can see it, you can hear it, so make your wall or fence tall enough to block out any adjacent views. Stockade fencing is about $15 a linear foot for a basic version, and $18 per linear foot for a higher-quality fence. Masonry fences can cost triple that, so think of them as an investment.
MUFFLE IT. For an even more sophisticated approach to noise elimination, consider a new, high-tech product called the AcoustiWood fence, by Acoustical Solutions in Richmond, Va. It’s a fencing system designed to directly absorb noise, and the company claims a 50 to 75 percent reduction in perceived noise levels. Priced around $12 per linear foot, not including installation, it can be used as perimeter fencing to alleviate street or neighbor noise, as well as around air-conditioning condensers, home generators and pool pumps to muffle sound. To mask its industrial appearance, use bamboo; Walmart sells 13-by-60-foot rolls of Gardman bamboo fencing for about $57 a roll, and it attaches to almost anything with twist ties.
For more fix-it advice, visit Barbara K at barbarak.com and on Twitter @barbarasway.