Everybody needs good neighbours
A little consideration for the people over the fence could make all the difference this summer, writes
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.”
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.