When choosing how to decorate your patio, deck or porch for outdoor living in style this summer, don’t forget to add the element of sound in the way of wind chimes. Think all sound alike? Think again. How to choose just the right sound and design that will add a relaxing effect on the energy and mood of your outdoor living space.
Now that it’s May and the weather in most areas around the country is warming up, life is moving outside to my lakeside deck.
This year more than ever, making the most of every space including our outdoor spaces, large or small, to the best of our means, has taken on a new significance.
One element that I love about being outside on the deck is hearing the wind chimes I have hanging by the sliding glass door to my kitchen.
Many of you commented about them after I shared a video tour of my house two months ago and they could be heard. I love the sound of wind chimes so much that I even have them as my phone ring tone. :-)
Wind chimes are popular decorations on decks and porches and even gardens. They also play an important role that many of us overlook when creating a relaxing outdoor space. They add a positive effect to the energy and mood of a living space.
My wind chime love started the first spring after we moved into the house. I was sitting on the deck and in the distance heard the sound of many wind chimes. They sounded so nice. One particular sound was calling out to me.
Before this, I always felt wind chimes to be noisy and not relaxing.
So I headed to my neighbor’s house to see what wind chime she had that was making the sound that was calling me to it.
It was a thin silver metal tube wind chime with a colorful stone clapper and silver circle sail/wind catcher. I bought one for myself. It is in the above photo with the ceramic bell over it. (The ceramic bell didn’t come with the chime, but was from a bell that used to have a gong, but it broke. Instead of throwing the bell out, I hung the chime from it.)
The following spring, I walked into my local hardware store and heard a display wind chime blowing in the gentle breeze outside the store that again was calling me to it.
It had a completely different sound – deeper and more resonant than the previous chime I bought. I found it so peaceful and serene. It is the copper tube chime with the turquoise butterfly sail/wind catcher made by the same company as my first chime. Woodstock My Butterfly Chime.
The black lighthouse is not really a chime, but sounds like a harbor buoy. Another outdoor sound I love.
What to Look for When Buying a Wind Chime
When buying a wind chime, here are a few things to take into consideration: Number of tubes, length of the tubes, the type of clapper and weight of the sail/wind catcher that hangs from the bottom.
- The number of tubes that a wind chime has determines the number of notes that it can make. Wind chimes with many tubes have the ability to combine more sounds and create different harmonies. Wind chimes with fewer tubes have a smaller range of well-tuned sound.
- The tube finish on wind chimes only affects the decorative style, which for many of us is as important as the sound.
- Overall wind chime length determines the tone and depth of the sound. Longer wind chimes produce lower, fuller tones, while shorter wind chimes produce higher pitched tones.
- The wind chime’s clapper is the piece that comes into contact with the tubes. The point of contact is carefully calculated to provide the best possible sound.
- The size of the wind chime sail/wind catcher that hangs below the tubes determines how much wind is needed to cause the wind chime to sound. Most wind chimes are designed to begin chiming in six to ten mph breezes. The less the sail/wind catcher weighs, the more sound is produced.
Do All Wind Chimes Make the Same Sound?
Think all wind chimes sound alike? They do not. The sound can be totally different from the ting of metal to the hollow sound of bamboo to highly musically scaled tuned tubes – like the wind is playing an instrument.
- The easiest way to find the perfect sounding wind chime is to head to a garden supply or outdoor decor store and listen to the ones on display.
- If you don’t have this option, then you can check out this Sound Room online to listen to audio samples of a wide variety of different types of wind chimes.
Metal, Bamboo or Glass Wood Chimes?
Popular material choices for wind chimes are metal, bamboo, ceramic and glass. I like metal chimes, but you may like the sound of a different material.
Metal wind chimes are the most popular because of their durability and high tuning accuracy. Only metal wind chimes can be tuned to specific tones and notes.
- Metal wind chimes come in a variety of melodies, and can even be tuned to well-known songs and themes. Metal wind chimes are also waterproof and rust resistant. You don’t have to worry about them chipping or losing their beauty, so they’ll last a long time.
Bamboo wind chimes are not as durable as metal wind chimes. The tones of bamboo wind chimes are hollow, deep and resonant. Although they cannot be tuned, these wind chimes can emulate relaxing sounds like rain or exotic drums.
- Choose bamboo wind chimes for a natural and environmentally friendly way to relieve stress, with tones that will soothe the soul.
- Since bamboo is a natural material and lightweight, some splitting can occur that may alter the sound quality over time.
Ceramic, Glass, and Seashell wind chimes are typically chosen for their decorative style and color rather than for their sound which can produce a gentle tinkling to noisy clanging.
Where to Hang Wind Chimes
I found that the placement of wind chimes matters. Most well-made wind chimes, are tuned to begin “chiming” at 6 to 10 mph wind speed. If you place them in a spot that gets too windy, the sound of the wind chimes may not be appealing.
- Hang your chime where the wind can reach it from as many directions as possible. An open corner is ideal when hanging the chime from a building. Experiment with hanging your chime at different heights.
- I chose to hang my wind chimes as a group in the open corner by my kitchen door to create more visual impact, just as I do inside my house with decorative accessories. I also placed them here so I can hear them inside the house when the doors and windows are open.
- Avoid hanging your chime within two feet of a wall or too close to plants, furniture and anything that might obstruct or divert the breeze. If you have a screened-in porch, you may find that even the screens will impede the breeze enough to prevent your chime from ringing.
- Try hanging your chime in different locations during different times of the year. The prevailing winds change seasonally. If you own a collection of wind chimes, you can create an environment of sound all your own.
Experiment with the chimes you have. My chimes hang on the lake side of the house. There they have the added benefit of alerting us to changes in wind direction, and incoming weather!
The Type of Wind Chime I Want to Add to My Collection
I like my three chimes, but if one breaks, my next wind chime purchase will be one of the Corinthian Bells® that are tuned to a musical scale. I like the sound of this copper one.
How to Hang Wind Chimes
When hanging your wind chime, hang it directly from the “O” ring or loop at the top of the chime. Don’t extend the top string of the chime by adding chain or string. This may cause the entire chime to swing, when only the center string and clapper should move. (I didn’t follow this advice for the lighthouse chime and it does swing, but I like the visual look of its length.)
To hang my collection of chimes:
- I drilled a small hole in the underside of the roof and then screwed in heavy duty hooks. I placed the “O” ring over the hook. To make sure they were secure, I twisted wire around the hook and ring.
Other hanging options:
- You can attach a hook style plant hanger from a wall or tree in your yard and hang the wind chime from it.
- If you would like to hang a wind chime in a garden to keep the birds away, hang it from a Shepherd’s Hook.
How to Extend the Life of Your Wind Chimes
- To enjoy your wind chimes for years, hang them in an area that is not exposed to long term direct sunlight.
- Occasionally wipe off your chimes with a damp cloth to remove any build-up or mold.
- Bring your chimes in during extreme weather. Store in an unheated area like a garage or shed.
Wind Chimes Make Nice Gifts
If you are looking for a special gift, Wind Chimes make a great Mother’s Day, hostess or housewarming gift. There are many decorative styles and price ranges from which to choose.
Do you have a wind chime hanging outside your home? If so what type is it?