Ev­ery­body needs good neigh­bours

A lit­tle con­sid­er­a­tion for the peo­ple over the fence could make all the dif­fer­ence this sum­mer, writes

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - STYLE -

For many of us, the count­down to the sum­mer hol­i­days is well and truly on. Af­ter the chaos of Christ­mas and New Year is over, Aussies will col­lec­tively move out­doors to spend sum­mer around the back­yard pool and in the al­fresco liv­ing area.

Long days lead into balmy evenings where friends and fam­ily will con­verge for a sum­mer bar­be­cue and a few drinks while the kids en­joy the free­dom of not hav­ing to get up early for school the next day.

For some of us, it’s the per­fect time to pack up the car and get away for a few days too.

How­ever, many of us will do all of this with­out giv­ing a sec­ond thought to the peo­ple our sum­mer plans might have the most ef­fect on — our neigh­bours.

In fact it seems most of us don’t even know the face over the fence.

Ear­lier this year, a sur­vey by realestate.com.au dis­cov­ered most of us avoid hu­man con­tact with our neigh­bours, with more than a third of re­spon­dents not in­ter­ested in get­ting to know who lives next door.

But ac­cord­ing to re­la­tion­ship ex­pert and au­thor Dar­leen Bar­ton, it’s one of the big­gest mis­takes we can make.

“It’s im­por­tant that peo­ple re­ally make the ef­fort to get to know their neigh­bours be­cause just say­ing hello can ac­tu­ally help pre­vent so many prob­lems down the track,” she says.

“Say­ing hello, a smile, wav­ing are all good foun­da­tional ac­tions to dis­play in pass­ing your neigh­bour. Small ges­tures are quiet and yet ef­fec­tive.”

Noise con­trol

There’s no deny­ing the De­cem­ber-Jan­uary pe­riod in Aus­tralia is full of op­por­tu­ni­ties to gather your clos­est friends and fam­ily around for cel­e­bra­tions and par­ties.

But for most of us who live in sub­ur­ban set­tings, these gath­er­ings are un­der­pinned by the un­der­ly­ing con­cern that we’re ‘dis­turb­ing the neigh­bours’.

You don’t need to break up the party at 8pm though. In­stead, think about how you can use soft fur­nish­ings or plants to cre­ate some nat­u­ral sound­proof­ing.

“In ad­di­tion to look­ing great and adding life to an out­door space, plants can help in ab­sorb­ing some am­bi­ent noise,” says land­scaper Ja­son Hodges.

“Plants and shrubs are also ex­cel­lent ways to block out light em­a­nat­ing from your gar­den into the neigh­bours’ yard and, in many in­stances, light­ing can be even more in­tru­sive than sound dur­ing the party sea­son.”

Ja­son, a spokesper­son for paving com­pany Ad­bri Ma­sonry, says cre­at­ing a raised gar­den bed along your fence line can also help.

If you’re build­ing or ren­o­vat­ing, Mick Sales, gen­eral man­ager at Aus­tralian Out­door Liv­ing, rec­om­mends con­sid­er­ing the as­pect of your out­door area be­fore de­sign­ing your space.

“Try not to have the open sides of your en­ter­tain­ing space di­rectly fac­ing the neigh­bours,” he says.

“It can also be a good idea to get your neigh­bours in­volved in your plans from the start for a con­struc­tive de­sign that ben­e­fits both sides of the fence.”

Mick says ma­te­ri­als such as tim­ber and ar­ti­fi­cial turf are great for ab­sorb­ing noise as op­posed to con­crete or tiles where the noise can bounce, while screen­ing off your out­door area us­ing pa­tio blinds or us­ing in­su­lated ceil­ing pan­els in your al­fresco can also help re­duce the like­li­hood of sound trav­el­ling.

If you’re ex­pect­ing a large gath­er­ing, it’s cour­te­ous to let your neigh­bours know too.

“If you think there is po­ten­tial for dis­rup­tion, the right thing to do is in­form your neigh­bours of the gath­er­ing,” says Dar­leen.

Pool floats from Sun­nyLife get the party started. Just don’t for­get to tell the neigh­bours first.

Floor­cov­er­ings and fur­ni­ture from Bar­be­cues Galore can ab­sorb the sound out­doors.

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