Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fencing to Mitigate Traffic Sights and Sounds

If your side or rear yard has a clear view of a street, odds are, the sight and sound of the traffic can be anywhere from a minor imposition on your enjoyment of your yard to a downright annoyance. If you suffer from this problem, there are many ways to add privacy by screening out potential gawkers and reducing the noise of the traffic.

If you are lucky enough that the street that you want to screen is a quiet one, with no chance of an increase in traffic or of being widened, then the ubiquitous wood fence can be a decent option. However, with the inevitable wood shrinkage, most wood fences wind up with vertical gaps that allow passersby a view of your yard and let in sound. Even if these are not issues for your situation, then the need for maintenance or replacement due to weathering down the road may send you searching for fencing options.

There are many options to choose from such as vinyl, masonry, stone and composite fencing. You might even opt for a combination of wrought iron and landscaping to mitigate the impact of the traffic on your yard. While all of these materials have pros and cons, I’d like to share the solution that I chose for a side yard project recently. This choice was less costly than masonry or stone (both really good choices for sound mitigation and longevity), a bit more expensive than vinyl (to me, most look fake and don’t seem dense enough to mitigate the sound well.), and needed less room, maintenance and time for plant growth than a wrought iron and landscape option.

This particular side yard had been unfenced for about 40 years. Initially, a rural two lane road was separated from the house by about 20 feet of bar ditch (right of way) in addition to 25 feet of side yard. Over the years, traffic increased until finally, what was once a quiet rural road, was widened to a 5 lane thoroughfare. In doing so, 11 feet of the side yard was taken for the project. Now there was only about 9 feet of ROW between the curb and lot line that included a four foot wide sidewalk. The road pavement was now closer to the house than where the original lot line used to be. The traffic noise was a constant imposition, even inside the house and the traffic (vehicle and foot) felt on top of anyone trying to enjoy the patio or use the side yard.

The product that I chose for this fence, to serve as both a visual screen as well as a sound barrier, was a composite material, Trex, that has been used extensively for over 15 years in outdoor uses such as decking, outdoor trim, garden boxes and fencing. It is an environmentally friendly product made from reclaimed/recycled wood and plastic fibers. I chose the Trex Seclusions Privacy Fencing to enclose the side yard and connect into the existing chain link fence of the year yard. There are many styles and colors to choose from and many more good things I could tell you about this product, however to keep from making this post extremely lengthy, please visit the Trex website for more information. (I have no financial interest in this company, I am just a longtime fan of its products.)

As for how the project turned out, everyone involved considers it a huge success. The pictures in this post are of the project just after completion. The traffic noise outdoors and inside (especially noticeable improvement in the bedrooms that are on that side of the house) was greatly reduced. The side yard actually became usable again from the definition and privacy that the fencing provided and the patio area was once again something that could be enjoyed without feeling like being in a fishbowl.

If you need any assistance putting together a solution for a problem in your yard, you can find my contact information on my garden coach web page.

1 comment:

  1. looking forward to your fence landscaping! flowers and cast iron sounds like your going to have some fun.