A garden can be a source of joy, and also delicious vegetables. However, it should also be a relaxing refuge, and traffic noise can really ruin the mood.
So, how can you reduce traffic noise in your garden? Building walls made of brick, stone, wood, or metal near the road will help to reduce traffic noise in your garden. A barrier made of shrubs and trees can also help to dissipate some of the traffic noise near your garden. You can even use “white noise”, like fountains, to help drown out some of the noise.
There are lots of options when it comes to choosing walls and plants to reduce traffic noise in your garden. Let’s take a closer look at the methods you can use, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each.
How to Reduce Traffic Noise in Your Garden
Walls and fences will reduce traffic noise in your garden, as long as they are solid (no holes for noise to travel through) and tall enough (beware of restrictions in your town!). You will need to spend some money on walls and fences, and either do the work yourself or spend more money to hire someone to help.
Plants, shrubs, and trees can also help to reduce traffic noise. However, it takes time for them to grow large enough to have an impact.
Even when they have grown a bit, plants are not a perfect barrier to block out noise. Instead, they muffle noise by absorbing some of the energy from sound.
After you have done what you can by installing walls or fences and plants, you can also consider creating some white noise, which can be soothing and more pleasant than the alternative (road traffic noise).
We’ll start by taking a closer look at the types of walls and fences that are available.
Walls and Fences to Reduce Traffic Noise in Your Garden
Regardless of the type of wall or fence you use to reduce traffic noise in your garden, there are a few principles to keep in mind. These tips will give you the best soundproofing and traffic noise reduction when using walls and fences.
First, put the wall or fence as close to the source of the noise as possible. Usually, this means building walls or installing fences on your property line (or as close as possible without intruding on neighboring property).
Check with your local Assessor’s office and get a certified plot plant to find out where the property lines really are. The last thing you want to do is pay to build a wall or fence on a neighbor’s property, and then pay again to have it taken down or moved!
Also, keep your wall or fence well-maintained. Sound is just a form of energy, and it will take the path of least resistance as it travels.
This means that sound will flow through any holes or cracks in your wall or fence. If your stone wall is starting to collapse, or your wooden fence is starting to rot, make repairs or replace them.
A little maintenance will go a long way in preventing noise from coming into your garden through holes in a wall or fence.
If you are going to use a wall as a barrier, a brick or stone wall is a great choice. Let’s get into why that is, along with some of the drawbacks of this method.
Brick or Stone Wall
A brick or stone wall is solid and has a high density. This means that it will do an excellent job of deflecting sound away from your garden.
As long as the wall is well-maintained with no holes or cracks, it will deflect any noise that originates near the ground. A brick or stone wall should be at least a few feet tall, in order to reduce the noise from car engines on nearby roads.
Taller is better when reducing noise, but there is a limit to your time and resources. There are also limits depending on where you live. Before building a brick or stone wall, check with your town or city to find out the height limits for these structures. While you are at the Town Hall, make sure to get any permits you need for altering your land or structures.
One advantage of brick or stone walls is that they will last a long time, barring a natural disaster like an earthquake. Brick and stone will not rot like wood does, and so your wall should hold up for many years.
On the other hand, taking down a stone or brick wall is much harder than taking down a wooden fence. When building a stone or brick wall, make sure it is in the right place, or you will be looking at a very expensive and labor intensive project to move it.
Another drawback of brick and stone walls is that they are expensive. Unless you have enough large stones in your yard, you will have to pay for materials, which can add up to quite a bit of money.
You will also need to hire a bricklayer to build a proper wall, or else do the work yourself. Building walls involves time-consuming and backbreaking labor.
Another drawback of brick and stone walls is that they are not natural-looking. To counter this, you can let ivy or some other creeping plant grow up along the wall to give it a more natural look. Just don’t let these plants prevent you from maintaining your wall.
If the drawbacks of brick or stone walls are too much to bear, then consider installing a wooden fence instead.
A wooden fence can be built with space between the pieces of wood (like a picket fence), or it can be built solid so that there is no space between the pieces of wood (like a stockade fence).
As mentioned earlier, a fence without any holes or cracks will do a better job of deflecting sound. A stockade fence with no spaces will be more expensive, but it will also reduce noise more than a picket fence.
Since wood is not as dense as brick or stone, even a stockade wooden fence will not deflect noise as well as a brick or stone wall.
However, wooden fences are more affordable and easier to install than brick or stone walls. Often, a stockade wooden fence is installed in sections (perhaps 8 feet wide).
You can choose the height of your wooden fence (subject to zoning restrictions; check with your Town Hall). However, a 6 foot tall wooden fence is standard, since it is tall enough to provide good privacy while reducing noise.
You can buy wooden fence panels online from Home Depot, such as this 6 foot tall by 8 foot wide stockade cedar fence panel. You can also order fence panels from a local fence company.
Many of these companies will also offer installations for a fee, so this is something to consider if you are short on time or if you lack the skills to put up a fence.
If you do opt for a wooden fence, be sure to build it so that it reaches all the way to the ground. Otherwise, traffic noise can come right under the fence (remember: sound is energy, and will take the path of least resistance!)
Close any openings in an old fence by making repairs, or replace it the wood it is too rotten. You may also want to seal the fence with some type of finish to protect it from the weather.
A small investment of time and money to seal your fence can extend its life and reduce the amount of time and money you spend on replacing the fence in later years.
You can install a vinyl fence in solid panels, just like a wooden fence. However, a vinyl fence will not rot like a wooden fence will, making it longer-lasting. Also, vinyl is much lighter than a heavy metal fence.
Vinyl fences may cost a bit more than wooden fences in the beginning. However, they will last longer than wooden fences, and they require much less maintenance. This makes a vinyl fence a better value in the long term.
When most people think of metal fences, they think of a standard chain link fence, often 4, 5, or 6 feet tall. These fences are common and not too difficult to install, since the material is light.
However, they offer almost no noise reduction, since there is more hole than fence! One solution is to grow perennial plants (such as ivy) that can grow up along the chain link fence to help absorb noise.
However, it can take some time for the plants to grow, and you will be stuck listening to traffic noise in the meantime.
You can opt for sheet metal fence panels instead, which have no holes and will reduce traffic noise better than chain link fences. You can opt for steel or aluminum for a sheet metal fence.
A steel fence will be stronger, but the materials and installation will cost more. An aluminum fence is lighter and easier to install, but it will not hold up as well against tree branches and other accidents.
As with other types of fences, be sure to get a permit from your Town Hall, if needed, before building a metal fence. Also, do some shopping around online, since prices can vary considerably.
For more information, check out this article on fence installation costs from Home Advisor.
Road Noise Reduction Fence (Acoustic Fence)
An acoustic fence reflects, deflects, or absorbs noise so that the sound of traffic does not make it into your garden. An acoustic fence can act as a standalone structure, or it can be attached to existing structures to reduce traffic noise.
For example, the Acoustifence is a noise reducing fence, spun off from NASA. The Acoustifence is flexible and can be attached to a chain link or wooden fence.
Since it is resistant to mold and UV radiation, it can stay outdoors in all seasons and hold up against the weather. It is 1/8 inch thick, and comes standard in 6 foot by 30 foot pieces.
The Acoustifence can reduce noise levels by 28 decibels. For more information, check out the Acoustifence on the Acoustiblok website.
There are also exterior sound blankets that absorb noise (or sound energy). You can put these up against any existing metal, wood, or vinyl fence for improved noise reduction.
For more information on sound blankets, check out this article from Acoustical Solutions on blocking backyard noise.
A trellis is a lattice, which can be freestanding or propped against a fence. A trellis provides a structure for plants to climb on.
Some common vining plants that will grow up along a trellis include grapes, tomatoes, and squash. You can also let roses or wisteria crawl up a trellis.
For more information, check out my article on trellises, arbors, and pergolas.
Most trellises should be 6 feet tall to provide enough height for plants to climb. A 6 foot tall trellis will help to reduce noise, once the plants climbing on it are fully established.
For more information, check out my article on how tall a trellis should be.
Plants, Shrubs, and Trees to Reduce Traffic Noise in Your Garden
If you can’t stand the thought of building walls and fences around your garden, don’t worry – you have another option. Planting shrubs and trees will help to reduce traffic noise in your garden while also increasing visual appeal for you, your visitors, and anyone passing by your garden.
Before choosing plants to install for noise reduction, there are a few things to remember.
First, not all plants are created equal when it comes to noise reduction! Deciduous trees that lose their leaves will not offer much protection from noise in the winter, after all their leaves have fallen off. Evergreen trees are a better choice.
Certain plants will also grow thicker than others, and will be able to absorb more noise. You may need to plant a double row of thinner plants to get better noise reduction.
Also, consider the height of the shrubs and trees you will be planting. You want them to grow tall enough to reduce noise. However, you don’t the plants to grow so tall that they threaten your house or become impossible to maintain.
In addition, choose a good location for your plants. Be strategic when planting, and you can save some time, money, and effort when planting to reduce traffic noise.
Finally, you may want to put in a temporary fence while you wait for your plants grow large enough to have an impact on noise levels. When planting, leave some room for a fence if necessary.
Best Shrubs and Trees for Noise Reduction
The best shrubs and trees for noise reduction will be at least 4 feet tall (ideally 6 feet tall), with thick foliage all along their height.
Plant shrubs or trees close enough together so that they can eventually for a wall with no openings (a hedge), but not so close together than they compete with each other for nutrients in the soil.
It is a good idea to put shrubs or trees on a berm, which in this case is a slightly raised mound of earth used for planting.
Some of the best shrubs and trees for noise reduction include:
- Arborvitae – Arborvitae (tree of life) or Thuja are evergreens that can grow from 10 to 200 feet tall. The shoots look flat, and the tree will grow cones. There are a few different species of Thuja to choose from. For more information, check out Thuja (Arborvitae) on Wikipedia.
- Cypress – There are over a dozen species of Cypress, native to North America, Africa, and Asia. These trees also grow cones. For more information, check out Cypress on Wikipedia.
- Holly – These can be evergreen or deciduous trees or shrubs, often known for their red berries and use as decoration around the Christmas holiday. For more information, check out Holly on Wikipedia.
- Juniper – these shrubs and trees produce cones and either needles or scale-like leaves. Most juniper berries containing seeds are blue. For more information, check out Juniper on Wikipedia.
- Spruce – these trees are evergreen and produce needles and cones. They can grow 60 to 200 feet tall at maturity. For more information, check out Spruce on Wikipedia.
If you have space available in your yard, you can plant two rows of shrubs or trees to reduce noise even more.
Adding a water feature to your yard can reduce traffic noise in your garden, at least for part of the year. The sound of running water in a fountain or a fish pond can be a soothing sound to hear, and it just might make you forget that you live so close to a busy road.
In addition to providing some “white noise” for your garden, a water feature makes your yard more beautiful and gives you something to plant around.
If your yard is sunny enough, you can even save on electricity costs by using a solar powered water pump.
Now you have some ideas on how you can reduce traffic noise in your garden. Walls made of brick, stone, wood, or metal will be most effective. However, a barrier made of plants can also help to reduce noise.
You might also want to read my article on plants that make a good sound barrier.
I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.