Back gardens are the little utopias we escape to when we want to relax and close ourselves from the outside world. It can be quite painful when this peace is taken away by the noise pollution that plagues bigger cities. Recent studies have revealed that noise plays a detrimental role in our mental and physical well-being. It’s been associated with stress, anxiety and a potential loss of hearing. Therefore, reducing the traffic noise in your garden might be more important than you think.
If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, fear not, we are here to guide you through your soundproofing journey. We have prepared several suggestions on how to reduce traffic noise in your back garden.
This post is for:
- People who live close to a busy street and want to reduce the noise coming into their garden;
- Those thinking of getting a road noise reduction fence installed;
- Anyone looking for green soundproofing alternatives.
Your noise-cancelling weapon of choice
When it comes to soundproofing your garden from traffic noise, there are two methods that you can choose from – sound attenuation and sound deflection.
Sound attenuation is the process of converting sound into heat. In layman’s terms, attenuation functions as a sponge that absorbs sound waves, reducing their volume. This method is pretty good at muffling noise without removing it completely. An easy way to achieve that would be to position thick shrubs strategically around your garden.
Sound deflection does what the name suggests. One of the ways to reduce traffic noise is installing a tall garden fence. This way the sound waves will hit the barrier and bounce back off it. This is the superior method when it comes to blocking out traffic noise in your garden, but also the more expensive one.
Noise barrier factors that come into play
Now that you’re acquainted with how barriers work, it’s time to move on to the factors that help determine how effective they are.
- Height – It’s preferable for the height of the barrier to be around 2 meters for it to proficiently block outside noise. A tall fence is less likely to let noise roll over it. As the saying goes “out of sight, out of mind”.
- Density/Rigidity – As you might have already guessed, the denser a fence is, the less noise it will let slip through. If you’re living close to a busy street, it might be a good idea to invest in a fairly thick wall which will surely pay off down the line.
- Coverage – A solid barrier is one without any holes in the base or in the middle. If your fence has holes, those are probably letting more sound in than you might think.
- Barrier Placement – The placement of the fence plays a huge role in how effective it will be. To get maximum results, barriers should be placed as close as possible to the noise source.
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Using soundproof fencing to fight traffic noise
The first thing most people think of when hearing the word “soundproof” is fences. As mentioned above, a fence is the most effective method when battling noise pollution. Now, since fences are built of different materials and come in all shapes and sizes, it’s important to know what type of noise you’re trying to block out.
If it’s high traffic noise you’re fighting against, a brick or acoustic fence might be your best options. However, if the noise you’re dealing with is not that serious, a wooden fence can do the trick just as well. Garden fence soundproofing can be quite tricky, especially when choosing the appropriate type of fence. That’s why we have compiled a list of the advantages and disadvantages of different types of fences below.
If you decide to go with a fence, it’s important to know your local regulations, first. You can find additional information online, here or you can consult your local council office for more accurate advice.
- Easy to install
- Cost efficient
- Easy access to materials
- Not a very effective noise barrier
- Fire Susceptibility
- Prone to rotting
- Easy to install
- Cost efficient
- Sturdier than a wooden fence
- The least effective of the bunch
- Damages easily and weak against wind
- Not very aesthetically pleasing
Using Hedges to block traffic noise
- Reduce noise by just up to 25%
- High maintenance
- Plants need to mature to start absorbing noise
- Very durable
- Can reduce noise to up to 50%
- Very costly and time consuming to erect
- Not the most aesthetically pleasing
Modular walls and acoustic fences
- Can reduce noise to up to 50%
- Around half the price of a brick wall
- Fast and easy installation
- Sleek and aesthetically pleasing
A beautiful garden trellis
Now, we know this might sound preachy but a trellis is a must-have for every garden enthusiast. It not only makes your garden look more aesthetic and chic, but it also adds a layer of practicality.
- Firstly, a properly decorated trellis does have some light sound-absorbing abilities.
- Secondly, certain vines like for example Jasmine and Honeysuckle help filter the nasty fumes that nearby cars let out into your garden. While others climbing plants such as climbing roses can turn your trellis into the eye-catching focal point of your garden.
- And last but not least, a trellis is a marvellous creation when it comes down to privacy. Not only does it help avoid your neighbour’s gaze, but it also provides something pretty to look at. Read our blog post on garden security for more privacy and security tips.
Soundproofing with greenery
Another way you can go about soundproofing your garden from traffic noise is through the greenery. Although vegetation is the less effective method when it comes to reducing noise traffic in your garden, it has benefits that a fence doesn’t. For starters, trees and plants filter out carbon and convert it to oxygen, which means more fresh air for you. To top it all off, vegetation has a very positive influence on us, as it helps reduce anxiety and stress. Now bundle all of this with trees’ noise blocking properties and you have yourself the overall full package.
Trees that reduce traffic noise
A common question we get is “how do trees reduce noise pollution?”. The answer is quite simple – they absorb it, thanks to their thick wooden structure, branches and leaves. Based on experience, we would say that evergreen trees are your best option for noise reduction. However, it’s important, to keep in mind that in order to get good results, you have to plant the trees densely in a row to form a type of wooden wall. Some good example of evergreen trees that muffle sound are:
- Leyland Cypress – The great thing about these is that they grow rapidly, as much as 1.5 whole metres (5 feet) per year and can reach up to 15 metres (50 feet) in their lifetime!
- Arborvitae – Although they are slimmer than the Leyland Cypress, they are just as tough and are known to withstand very cold temperatures.
- Eastern White Pine – thanks to its thick, straight trunk, long cones and massive height it’s the perfect tree when it comes to reducing noise traffic. Just keep in mind this tree can grow as much as 30 metres (100 feet)!
Since most trees take too long to grow, choose some that are already relatively mature, but still young enough to be uprooted and then replanted.
Noise blocking shrubs
On the off chance that your garden isn’t big enough to house trees, shrubs can be a great substitute. More precisely, evergreen shrubs, as those are the most sound absorbent and provide year-round noise protection. We recommend:
- Junipers – They have thick branches and leaves and to top it off are quite resilient to urban pollution.
- Spruce – What’s so nice about these is that they come in all shapes and sizes. Therefore, you can choose the type that suits you best.
- Hollies – These provide excellent noise reduction and at ground level nonetheless. They can grow quite thick accompanied by large leaves and lots of branches.
You can decide which method works best for you and suits your needs the most. Don’t forget that you can play around with the idea, don’t get confined to just choosing between one of the two (greenery or a fence). You can always try combining the right sound absorbing plants with a sturdy fence to get the best of both worlds.
- If you were wondering how to reduce road noise in the garden, you can easily achieve that through either sound attenuation or sound deflection.
- If you live close to a busy road where the traffic noise is too high, consider upgrading to a new fence.
- Trees and thick shrubs are not only useful for absorbing unwanted sounds but they also help keep your air clean and crisp.
We hope you found this article helpful, interesting and fun to read! Feel free to share it with your friends and family on social media to let them know how to manage traffic noise reduction.
Image source: Unsplash / Matt Chen