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Dealing with road noise in potential new house and garden



  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 26,606

    Noise is a fact of life in much of the UK. Not many places get really quiet. Background noise makes a difference too. In a town or city, it never gets really quiet, so you notice traffic noise less. 
    Of all the things I love about living here, the silence: total , utter, deafening silence is what I treasure above all else.
  • LucidLucid Posts: 385
    Hi everyone, thanks so much for your replies and input and sorry that I can't reply to each of you individually, but I really appreciate the thoughts from all of you.

    Firstly, I do appreciate that the answer for some is to not go ahead and purchase the house but if you take the road noise out of the equation then this is really like a one-off house for us for the price. We have been using Rightmove fairly regularly over the last 2 to 3 years to see what kind of houses come up, in various areas that are reasonably close by to where we are now, as we knew that we would want to try to upgrade from our current house at some point. This house is the first one we've seen that has everything we would want for our situation, except for it being next to a main road. Because of the road, it brings the house to within our budget, and there is nothing comparable that doesn't cost loads more and make us compromise on several things that we would want and could get with this house. Our estimation (using Google street view and counting the fence panels) is that the garden is about 110 foot long by at least 40 foot wide, plus a reasonable sized side garden, and there's not been anything we've seen close to that either within our budget or above. So we're definitely leaning towards going for it, which is why I was more keen to see if there was anyone with experience in similar set ups and whether there was anything you could do to at least dampen the sound. 

    I'll try to answer as many of the points raised as I can but apologies if I miss out anything that someone suggested or queried.

    The road in question is a B road with no junctions but it does have a change of a speed from 30mph to 40mph right outside the boundary. I think we viewed at one of the worst times for traffic, plus it was raining which I know makes it sound louder - perhaps that's a better sign for the Summer though... I am going to go to the road at different times and see how it sounds, but I am prepared that it's going to be a constant background noise when I'm in the garden. The house is fine and you can't really hear much inside and to be fair we sometimes get loud noises overnight where we are now, but it's the back garden that's the issue as we don't get a lot of traffic noise now - mostly noise from people which is another matter. @Topbird - you asked what orientation the garden is. It's actually North West so going on what you've said that could possibly be a help to the noise direction. 

    @Foxies - thanks for your input on what it's like for your situation and that wildlife is active there. That was another concern of mine, whether there'd be so many birds visiting when it's near a road etc. But there's a wooded area not at all far away, plus lots of trees around the area, so fingers crossed we'd get plenty coming in. I did feel a bit sad that there'd most probably be no chance of hedgehogs, with it being so close to the road and the neighbours' gardens all being fortified with concrete gravel boards, but hopefully we'd get amphibians somehow making their way in to use the pond.

    @Grannybee - the pollution was definitely a thought I had too. I guess I'd be clinging on to the idea that hopefully in the future more people will be on the hydro/battery cars, which I realise won't help for noise but will help for pollution. I've also read that planting trees and shrubs can help clean the air. The garden already has a few trees and I'd be trying to have at least one run of thick native hedging, if not more.

    @Nollie - thanks for your thoughts on the type of hedging for sound dampening. I have to say that I would really like to avoid conifer hedging as I much prefer the idea of mixed native. Sadly I don't think we'd quite have the width for conifer plus native hedging as there's other things I want to get in to the garden, and I'd envisaged letting the hedging get pretty deep anyway. But it's useful to know how effective conifers can be and definitely one to think about. 

    @Singing Gardener - that's good to know that an acoustic fence can be of help. I think we'd have to look at slowly making our own one (if that could save us on cost), as they do sound expensive, but it does sound a worthwhile project.

    @Rik56 - I reckon the road is about 2-3m metres from the boundary fence, so pretty close. We would definitely make a pond at some point and a dream of both of ours is to have a stream of some kind, so would probably try to incorporate some natural/gentle waterfall type feature in to that. @B3 - I would definitely be trying to include some moss and ferns around a stream type set up.

    @Skandi - I wasn't sure on the rumble strip or catseyes situation but just checked out Google street view and there are neither on the road, so hopefully that's a bit better. 

    Thanks again everyone, and I realise that I've answered as though we're definitely getting the house. It may not end up working out, but it's kind of nice to have a bit of a plan of what we can do to try to combat it if we go ahead and end up buying it. If there were other compromises then I think we'd probably not be considering this place, but we would upgrade so many features from our current house, some of which we never thought would be possible on our budget, and can do a lot with the increased garden space.

    I'll have to update up you all on what ends up happening and whether we're in a new garden for the Summer. Thanks again.

    Lucid :)
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 26,606
    Hi again, 
    How refreshing that folk read all postings so thoughtfully and considerately and respond in such detail. 
    Keep us up to date on your house move, maybe even some photos ?? 
    Wishing you the best of luck with it. 
  • FoxiesFoxies Posts: 60
    edited December 2019
    What a lovely reply @Lucid :) 
    I finally moved to this house after first seeing it forty years ago when the old road was still a regular bus route! 
    My very best wishes in your endeavours ...
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 6,573
    @Lucid , it's clear you've taken in all the points raised so good for you. Hopefully we've all been able to clarify the issues involved and thank you for replying. I wish you all the best in your house move, do let us know how you get on.

    @Hostafan1, I'm with you there on the peace and quiet, although we're on the edges of a built up area, sometimes we are lucky enough not to hear anything noisy.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 5,985
    edited December 2019
    Nice reply Lucid. It sounds as though this might be the right house for you - good luck if you decide to go ahead.

    My own comments were strongly influenced by the fact that I'm quite (very!) sensitive to noise. The one comment nearly everybody makes when they come to visit us is "Isn't it quiet here?" It freaks some people out a bit😁

    If the prevailing winds will carry the sound away from the house on the days when you are most likely to use the garden and it's not next to a junction with stop / start noises, then you may well grow accustomed to the traffic.

    The only additional caveat would be to ask if you have any pets - particularly cats? I wouldn't even entertain living near a busy road if I had a puss cat who likes to roam outdoors...
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 4,061

    Broad leaf evergreens will be more effective than conifers, the main requirement is that they are dense - so holly is a good one, or some of the eleagnus species often used as wind breaks. If it's the garden rather than the house you're screening, actually you're not outside as much in winter so deciduous trees may be fine. Again, you want dense ones - hawthorn rather than elder.

    Some info here

    There are also links on that page (side menu) to info about using plants to improve air quality. Avoid poplar and willow; sycamore variants are one of the best types.

    In general, diverse leaf size and types and a densely planted hedge will give you the best wildlife interest and the best noise and pollution control, so you are definitely thinking the right way.
    Every house has a compromise of some sort. Where I live has no road noise at all. But that's because it's a mile to the nearest back lane. Some people would find the isolation too hard to bear and would prefer a little road noise. :)

    “It's not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it.” ― Terry Pratchett
  • LucidLucid Posts: 385
    Thanks for the further replies everyone. @Hostafan1 - if things work out and we end up buying the place I'll definitely put up some photos. There's a lovely satellite image from Google maps but I won't put anything up for now to protect the owners' privacy. It is a North West aspect but because it is reasonably wide, and because of the road being our neighbour, I think the top fence boundary is going to get Sun most of the day, so a bit like it's South facing. I will also try to make sure I put up final photos of our current garden. I do feel a bit guilty as it was supposed to be our wildlife garden from scratch, which is now unfinished, and should have been in a better place than it is, but it has been a tough garden to work with due to the state of the ground - and the fact that I'm learning as I go. I also don't like the idea of leaving the pond behind when it could be filled in by new owners as we've got lots of newts in there, as well as many other lovely creatures. But I've learnt from my mistakes and know that I need to take time with what I want to do, if we do move to a new garden.

    @Topbird - we do have a dog which has been on my mind regarding the road, as being a rescue dog he is still in training for now, but he is pretty good with our current front door and not rushing out. However, at the possible new place there is an enclosed entrance porch and there are currently 3 gates he would have to negotiate to get from the back garden out to the front, due to the side garden being enclosed as well. So it's not such a huge worry that he could escape and we'd make sure we really work on his door behaviour. However, I did have a bit of a worry about fledglings if we were lucky enough to have birds nesting in the new hedges in the future. But I guess you have to hope most would be ok and that they stick to the several trees and shrubs in the area rather than flying in to the road. 

    @raisingirl - Thanks for the link, that's all really interesting. Our absolute dream is definitely more isolated in the countryside and my partner would definitely like your set up. In different parts of the country, or in Wales and Ireland, we could afford more isolation. But we have family in the area and for now don't want to move too far away from them - plus the slight issue of work. Hopefully if it works out, this will be our 'almost everything' home and I can try to make the garden into a country feel - even if it does have the background road noise!

    Lucid :)
  • LucidLucid Posts: 385
    Hi everyone, we've had an offer accepted on the house we wanted, so over the next few months I'm going to be starting to try to plan some of the garden. 

    I know pictures had been requested earlier in the thread so here is the satellite image of the new home and garden - best I can do image wise for now but gives an idea of the plot size. And the owner said they have hedgehogs visiting too, so I was almost sold on the house just on that. 

    So technically it's North West facing but I think the top boundary (pointing North West) would actually be like South facing because of the lack of buildings next to it. There's a lovely weeping willow tree at the end of the garden, but within council owned ground, so it serves as a bit of a backdrop when looking down the garden. There are a mix of trees and shrubs in the garden and nearer the time of moving I might see if the current owner minds giving me a bit of a tour so I can note down what they are.

    On our own current garden, I wanted to check others' thoughts on whether it's considered rude or not to check in with the buyers and see whether they would be planning to keep the plants and shrubs as they are? I have no problems leaving everything as it is, but I know they've got plans to do some hard landscaping in the front garden, and if it was similar in the back and everything was going to be ripped up and chucked, I'd probably rather take it with us. However if trying to get the question to them might be considered rude and interfering then I guess I'll just leave it. It's just we've spent a lot of money building up the garden, and although I never finished it, there's a lot of value in the plants there. I would also have the same question on the pond and whether they'd plan to fill it in. There's lots of creatures in there and I feel very guilty at the thought it could be filled in. We would plan for a pond in the new place but wouldn't necessarily be able to build one straight away. 

    Thanks for any thoughts, Lucid :)
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 6,632
    In the same situation I think I'd ask the new owners of your old house whether they have any thoughts on the garden - you can be tactful, because of course it's entirely up to them what they do, but you'd kick yourself if you didn't ask and they concreted over everything...

    As to the new garden, it looks like a nice big area to get your teeth into.  Presumably you have plans for what you want, apart from the wildlife pond - fruit and/or veg?  More shrubs?  And of course there's the matter of the possible fence/hedge for sound reduction.  

    I'm just getting to grips with the sea of mud which will be our garden here in Ireland.  Sometimes it's depressing, but mostly it's exciting...   :)
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
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