Bamboo - Sound Advice?

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jenkinshouse
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Bamboo - Sound Advice?

Postby jenkinshouse » Wed Apr 20, 2005 9:25 am

Hi,

I'm looking for "sound advice" from anyone who has lived near a major street or has worked on a house near one...

The "Jenkins House" I am restoring and moving into soon has one major drawback (for me at least). It is positioned with it's back to a major street. It's a street that even big trucks drive down on their way toward a recycling center. It's a street where people feel like they should be able to play their music as loud and bassy as their car stereo systems will let them. One afternoon working in the backyard has made me realize that the woman that lived there before must have been pretty hard of hearing to think that noise wasn't a problem.

This honestly is my biggest challenge. It was a deal breaker for another potential buyer... Above and beyond the challenge of restoring the house will be the challenge of dampening the noise of the street, especially when in the backyard. From inside it's not too bad, but we are considering some sound reinforcement inside as well, especially in the bedrooms. A sound wall was bought by the city for one of the fences, but the other fence is wood. The wood fence borders on a bayou (fancy word for ditch), so the sound is able to go down this corridor and easily through the wood fence. The bayou has a bridge over which the trucks have a tendency to bounce and make very industrial types of noises.

Here are some options:

Bamboo? I hear that bamboo is a great sound stopper and it grows fast and cheap. I also understand its tendency to take over a yard... Personally, the bamboo can have 800 sq. ft. of my yard if it works.

Buy a new sound wall to replace the wood fence or build another wood fence with some form of sound reinforcement in between the fences. $$$ may be worth it...

Earth mound? I hear a mound of earth can help deflect sound, but this isn't a very likely option for me.

Here's a shot of some of the backyard. There is more to it than this. I should go take a better picture to show what I'll have to work with. By "middle class residential standards" I have a big backyard to work with.

Also, if you can think of a better forum to ask this question then let me know. I've been looking online for tips.

By the way, when the house was built, the road behind the house was a 2 lane road. 50 years later it is 6 lanes and can back up pretty bad during rush hours...

Txmod (my realtor) - if you read this and have a better pic of the whole backyard could you post it?
Thanks,
Jason


Image

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Postby tikiyaki » Wed Apr 20, 2005 10:17 am


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Postby jenkinshouse » Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:08 am


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Postby tikiyaki » Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:43 am


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all those 'sound' like good ideas and....

Postby modfan » Wed Apr 20, 2005 12:38 pm


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Postby jenkinshouse » Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:12 pm

Yes, luckily with my yard being on the end of a cul de sac I have probably the largest yard in the subdivision (that's another reason it's a wonder someone didn't buy the house and bulldoze it into a McMansion). So I have a lot of room to work with, and since all that room is not worth too much if it is as loud as it tends to be then I might as well use as much as I need to buffer myself from the outside world. Well, at least all my neighbors are very quiet and friendly. I won't have to deal with the noise problems I have at my apartment complex - slamming doors, car alarms at 2am, partiers coming home from the bars at 2:30am, constant daily roar of a leaf blower.

True, there is no ceiling on sound though, it will come over the top. My fences are 8 feet high, but the wood one is just a plain fence. I could definitely see myself putting up another wood fence a foot or so inside of the other one. Then could some form of vinyl/rubber sound barrier hang between the two fences for even more protection? Guess I better find an acoustics engineer...

There are trees surrounding the perimeter behind the fence, but not much inside the fence, and those trees are more for shade than for sound, I'm sure, as they were probably planted 30 years ago. There are a few bunches of bamboo, but they need to cover the whole area. They are too spaced out to do anything. I meant to take pics today but forgot.

Any links to mod water features? That's another avenue we'll explore. Maybe a mosiac tile fountain tastefully done?
Thanks again for the tips!
Jason

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Postby JXBrown » Wed Apr 20, 2005 9:06 pm

Here are the fountains that I covet:



We've lived in a house whose yard backs up onto a busy street. Planting anything evergreen and fast growing will help.

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Postby tikiyaki » Wed Apr 20, 2005 9:26 pm


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Postby bananabobs » Thu Apr 21, 2005 6:12 am

Bamboo can be a great wall that corrects many problems. I have 6 types of TIMBER bamboo which do not "run" but rather "clump" The only problem will be is that it takes a few years to establish, they tend to sit and sulk for a year or two and then start putting up new shoots. It could take as long as 5 - 10 years to create a effective screen. Unless you start with 36inch box plants, $$$ I do not want to discourage you about using bamboo, but wanted to be realistic. If the climate would allow, bananas grow really fast and could fill that area while the bamboo comes in, I am a little biased though.

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Postby CapitalMod » Thu Apr 21, 2005 6:26 am

I guess it depends on what type of bamboo.

Be warned that bamboo will eventually take every inch of available space. I constantly have to visit my mom's casa and wack down the two front invasion from the neighbors' yards. Its tough work as you have to rip out the entire root network. A pick axe is the best tool.

My suggestion would be to grow it but demarcate its limits. Then dig a deep trench around it and pour concrete so that it cannot go beyond the desired parameters. One neighbor is doing just that as he grows weary of my menacing stares whilst I repel yet another Tiki incursion from his yard.

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Postby tikiyaki » Thu Apr 21, 2005 8:19 am


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Postby CapitalMod » Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:32 am


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Postby jenkinshouse » Thu Apr 21, 2005 12:38 pm

The trench sounds like a lot of work, but we'll do what it takes. I'm surprised it would take a year or so to grow bamboo though. Everyone has warned me about it spreading like wildfire, but I like the look of it and if it cuts the sound down then I'll be happy.
I like the banana tree idea too. Then we get bananas every fall.
I also like the water features you sent the link to. By the way, the house comes with a built in (small) triangular koi pond in the front of the house! Jenkins was really experimenting with this house. It feels like he was just out of college and wanted to strut his stuff with this house and the others on the block.

Off the subject...
Once I'm done I would love to offer a free tour of the block anytime any of you decide to be in Houston. Unfortunately, the most important (to me at least) modern house in Houston is not open for tours (yet???), and that's the Menil House by Philip Johnson. It is owned by the foundation of the former owners and they just did a million dollar restoration of it, but it's not open to the public. Someday, hopefully, but for now you have to be a member of the foundation to see it inside. That house is what got us interested residential architecture. And though we haven't talked to the Jenkins family yet, I feel certain that he was very influenced by Johnson and probably knew him. At the very least he was influenced by Johnson via Howard Barnstone, his professor at University of Houston.
Jason

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Postby bananabobs » Thu Apr 21, 2005 5:04 pm


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Postby CapitalMod » Fri Apr 22, 2005 10:50 am

Its bamboo. It is very attractive. But it comes over from two different neighbors' yards. One is going to install the trench. The other gets stopped by the concrete of the driveway.

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Postby ch » Fri Apr 22, 2005 2:08 pm


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Postby CapitalMod » Sat Apr 23, 2005 6:19 am

That would probably work where there is no frost. Here, when the ground freezes, the frost can push such things around.

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Postby sid » Sat Apr 23, 2005 8:25 am

Just curious since you're on the subject ... but how would bamboo do in a planter such as the ones you find in atriums. Because these planters are isolated between concrete slabs will the bamboo or any type of reed be unable to spread?

Examples below:

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SID

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Postby johnnyapollo » Sat Apr 23, 2005 8:32 am

For those planters, I really like the look of Heavenly Bamboo in there (it's not really Bamboo, just resembles it - called Nandina Domestica: http://www.thegardenhelper.com/nandina.html ). I have clumps in various areas of the yard and was thinking of placing some in planters.

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Postby SDR » Sat Apr 23, 2005 12:00 pm

Anyone who wants to see a really impressive "fence" of bamboo - I don't know the variety -- will find one at the rear property line at Schindler's Kings Road house. For all I know, this screen was planted eighty years ago -- at least he planted some on his property, at some time, I've read.

The boles (term?) at Kings Road are eight inches in diameter, as I remember, and dozens of feet tall. Quite a sight! I wonder of the roots are capable of displacing masonry, if planted too close to a structure?

Watch out, Sid! Don't start something you can't stop. . .

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Postby CapitalMod » Sat Apr 23, 2005 12:38 pm


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Postby jenkinshouse » Mon Apr 25, 2005 7:39 pm

Hey again,
I have the backyard pics finally. Here is what we're looking at.

This is the view from near the master bedroom (left to right).

Image
Image
Image

That's something the owner left behind on the ground...

Here's where the wood fence meets the soundwall.

Image

There is some bamboo along parts of the soundwall, but it's clumped instead of growing all over the place. I could see a thick bamboo garden all along both walls to block the sound and build up a security wall as well. No one wants to climb a fence into a bunch of bamboo.

I appreciate all the sound ideas I'm getting, thanks! If it turns into landscape ideas, that's fine as well.
Jason

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Postby SDR » Sun Jul 10, 2005 1:20 pm

"I laugh in the face of danger! Then I hide until it goes away." Bender

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Postby johnnyapollo » Mon Jul 11, 2005 2:16 am

While living in Florida I saw many species of Schefflera used as exterior planting - of course the region was tropical so it makes more sense there. They are practically an unkillable indoor plant as long as you regulate the temperature and water.

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Postby CapitalMod » Mon Jul 11, 2005 7:52 am

Believe it or not, my neighbors had a Schefflera growing quite well for years in their backyard here in DC, a region of hot, humid summers and pretty cold winters. Must be a hardy variation as it grew quite large.

They just relandscaped and destroyed it. Unbelievable. :cry:


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