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How to reduce noise in your backyard

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Investing in your peace and quiet is a crucial step toward a healthy, happy home in our busy world. From traffic noise to loud neighbours, here are our expert tips on how to reduce noise in your backyard!

Reduce Noise in your backyard - VogueWall - Matt and Elise

Why you should reduce noise in your backyard

A 2003 study by Brown and Bullen found that up to 20% of dwellings in Australian cities experience traffic noise well above the World Health Organisation recommendations. This percentage has likely increased due to Australia’s expanding population, advancements in infrastructure and the residential housing boom. Furthermore, the study suggests noise affects our mental and physical well-being. Effects include increased risk of hearing loss, generalised anxiety disorder, stress, disturbed sleeping patterns, and even reduced life span.

Noise reduction, therefore, can positively affect more than just your Sunday morning sleep-ins.

How to reduce noise effectively

The first step is to effective noise reduction is understanding noise source and noise type. This way, you will know if you need to absorb the noise or reflect it.

Our handy guide to acoustic fencing goes into noise source and type for extensively, but generally:

  • To reduce traffic noise, you will need a road noise barrier.
  • For reducing neighbourhood noise (vocal noise from neighbours or animals, lawnmowers, music), acoustic fencing is the perfect choice.
  • To reduce low-frequency noise like air-conditioning units or hot water heaters, an acoustic enclosure (typically sound-absorbing) will be best.

How to reduce noise in your backyard - VogueWall

What to look for in a road noise barrier

Here are some key factors to effectively reducing road noise in your backyard:

1. Fence height:

Noise barriers should be around 2m high to sufficiently block out traffic noise and prevent noise from rolling over the top. A good rule of thumb is to block the line of sight to help reduce the noise.

Note: Be sure to check local council regulations about height specifications! There are usually exemptions for homes affected by traffic noise, so let them know your situation, rather than just going off standard fencing regulations.

2. Density/rigidity:

The denser the material, the more likely it’ll reduce noise. So, for example, a highway-adjacent home will call for a thicker barrier than a smaller residential street.

3. Full coverage:

noise barrier should extend to the ground and be air-tight all over; openings at the base or between sections will allow noise to enter through the gaps.

4. Proximity to the sound:

The noise wall should be as close as possible to the road, acting as a physical barrier between the house and noise. Additionally, if you live on the high side of the road, you may need a taller wall. Generally, noise moves in straight lines for the first 10m, then changes into vertical waves. However, if the barrier is higher, the fence or wall can still be effective 20-30m away.

5. Proximity to your backyard:

Furthermore, the closer you are to the other side of the noise wall, the better the acoustic barrier will perform!

6. Reflected noise:

Also, keep in mind that noise can bounce off hard structures, so consider roof lines (pergolas, balcony, etc.) that are higher than the noise wall; noise might pinball its way through! Ideally, these rooflines should be lower than the noise barrier.

 


Case Study: Acoustic fencing boosts privacy for brand new duplex

Which fences are best for reducing noise in your neighbourhood?

It can be tricky enough to decide on a fence type, let alone finding one to solve your noise issues. So, to simplify things, we’ve listed the most common fencing types — in order of the highest noise reduction, to the least!

Brick Walls Noise Walls

1. Brick walls

PROS:

  • Up to a 50% noise reduction
  • Highly durable

CONS:

  • Very expensive
  • Long and difficult installation
  • Susceptible to cracking over time

How to reduce noise in your backyard - VogueWall

2. ModularWalls and fences

PROS:

CONS:

  • More expensive than timber or metal

Brushwood Fencing | ModularWalls

(image source)

3. Brushwood fences

PROS:

  • Found to reduce noise if 60mm or thicker
  • It can last up to 30 years

CONS:

  • ‘Rustic’ aesthetic may not work with modern architectural designs
  • Aesthetics perish and become ragged over time
  • Not suitable for bushfire zones

How to reduce noise in your backyard - Hedge

4. Hedges

PROS:

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Psychological benefits
  • Studies show plants can reduce stress/anxiety

CONS:

  • Maximum noise reduction is about 25%
  • Plants need to mature to reduce any noise
  • High maintenance

The 10 Different Types of Fencing - Timber Fencing | ModularWalls

5. Timber fences

PROS:

  • Easy to install — DIY friendly
  • Cost-effective

CONS:

  • Not much noise reduction, unless you pay for premium, thick wood
  • Susceptible to rot and termites
  • Heightened maintenance
  • Not suitable for bushfire zones

Acoustic Fencing vs Colorbond Fencing | ModularWalls

(image source)

6. Metal fencing

PROS:

  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to install — DIY friendly

CONS:

  • The least effective noise barrier — almost no acoustic properties
  • Aesthetics are not long-lasting or versatile
  • Damages easily and unsuitable for high wind or coastal areas

Overall, the best barrier to reduce noise in your backyard will be one that suits your home’s aesthetic, meets your budget and can be easily maintained. Then all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the serenity!

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