A backyard or garden is often the place in the house where we go to unwind or seek some bit of escapism from the daily hassle of life. But today, with the ever-growing civilization, we have got houses built near the busiest streets, and it’s defeating the whole purpose of having a garden.
It has become almost impossible to sit calmly or relax in our own space if it’s under the constant buzz of traffic noise throughout the day. Be it loud stereos, car horns, or tire screeching, everything contributes to the excessive noise pollution that is sufficiently enough to disturb the tranquility of your garden.
And having exposure to such noise for an extended period of time can make anyone anxious. It has adverse health effects on a person’s mental well-being that can, in a severe case, lead to stress, poor concentration, and irregular sleeping patterns.
However, by implementing outdoor soundproofing techniques, it’s possible to reduce noise in the garden. The effective method to reduce noise in the garden is to build walls or install fencing. By building plant hedges around the garden is also a useful method to stop outside noise. Other ways to reduce noise in the garden are mask the traffic noise, and add more trees and greenery around the garden.
Sound Attenuation Vs. Sound Deflection
These are the two different approaches or methods you can choose from when you need to soundproof a place.
Sound attenuation refers to the process by which a material, structure, or object absorbs the sound waves, thus reducing its intensity and volume. You can think of it as a sponge that works well for sound. For example, it could be a great deal to plant thick shrubs around the garden’s perimeter to muffle the unwanted sound coming out of the road. More on this later…
Sound deflection is a method used to deflect or reflect sound in the opposite direction. A practical application for this soundproofing technique would be a high perimeter wall or fence around the garden that works as a barrier to stop the noise and bounce it back to the place it’s coming from.
This approach works more efficiently than the sound absorption method; however, it’s more of an expensive solution you can opt for, to fix noise issues in your garden. Of course, installing a big wall would cost you significantly much more than planting or maintaining shrubs and hedgerows.
Important Factors You Shouldn’t Mess With
Before you could choose the type of acoustic barrier you want to use in your garden, you first have to understand what all crucial factors dictate the effectiveness of these barriers.
The higher the barrier, the more efficient it will be in its working at blocking out noise. Well, we won’t suggest to you any numbers for what height you should go for. However, as a rule of thumb, the barrier should be at least higher enough to block the line of sight to the noise source – if you can see the truck, you can hear it too. By definition, the line of sight is a straight line along which an observer has an unobstructed vision.
Understandably, a wall that is 2 meters tall in height is less likely to let the noise seep into the place than a wall merely of 1 meter or less.
To put simply, the denser the barrier, the more effective it will be to prevent and block the noise coming through. The sound waves’ energy tends to get reduced when it passes through solid materials having a dense and thick consistency. You won’t regret investing in a noise barrier that is both heavy and contains mass.
Sound has a natural tendency to find ways to travel through; even a tiniest of a hole is enough to pave a path to sneak from. To get the optimum results out of a noise barrier, just make sure it has extended from all the way to the ground and is air-tight all over with no gaps or holes in it.
When it comes to reducing the noise in a garden using acoustic barriers, the placement plays a vital role in determining how efficiently the barrier will work. It’s recommended to place the barrier as close as possible to the noise source to get the maximum sound prevention.
Ideally, in almost every house, barriers are something that gets positioned at the perimeter boundary, so in most cases, there couldn’t be much you could do about it. However, if you can consider secondary barriers, you shouldn’t mind giving it a second thought.
How to Choose the Best Noise Barrier for Your Garden?
To your surprise, there isn’t such a thing called “the best noise barrier” because it can’t be a one-fit-all-solution. Then how to choose one, you may ask. Well, acoustic barriers have a few different types you can choose from depending on a number of key factors that include the amount of noise pollution you want to prevent, your budget, geographical location, type of construction, etc.
Not to mention, we don’t install a barrier for the mere reason for it being acoustically effective, but we also want it to be aesthetically pleasing, stand the test of time, and fit our purpose. There are enough types, designs, and styles available on the market, so make sure you don’t compromise on your expectations.
Additionally, we would like to point out that whatever budget you may require to soundproof your garden, it must have some wiggle room in it, so you don’t wholly run out of money in between. Last but not least, don’t over-complicate the process of deciding the type of acoustic barrier you would like to build; if you feel stuck, just get some fresh insights from your local dealer or constructor.[Related Article: How To Build A Soundproof Fence At Home Step By Step]
How to Reduce Road Noise in The Garden: 5 Ways That Work
When it comes to outdoor soundproofing, you may have heard about masonry walls being the best solution to tackle noise issues. You may also know about the different types of soundproofing fences available in the market, but that’s not all to it. Here in this article, we are going to share some more methods that you might not know yet. So without any further ado, let’s get into it.
NOTE: If you decide to install a fence for your garden, it’s advisable to consider local regulations. Or, if you are clueless about it, consult your local council office to ensure you aren’t violating any city ordinances.
1. Build Walls or Install Fencing
When you are dealing with high traffic noise, nothing could save you but a systematically built wall or acoustic fence. Below we have listed different types of fences that come with a set of pros and cons. You can read through the following types to determine which fence favors your condition the most, and that’s how you can choose the appropriate one that would work best with your place.
Is it the same traditional wall are we talking about? Yes, that’s right. Walls made up of bricks are the most durable and robust sound barrier that can reduce the noise up to 50% or more. Having high density and mass, brick walls are the most effective in keeping unwanted sound out of your garden. And the efficacy would increase further if the wall has built at a reasonably good height with some added thickness.
Despite being the best in the business, most homeowners don’t prefer building a wall because it’s expensive to construct one. Apart from this, a brick wall is time-consuming to erect, and of course, it doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing.
And if you don’t know how does it feel like sitting in a garden that is enclosed by a giant brick wall, you may not like that experience. Or you might love it because now you have increased privacy and reduced traffic noise.
Now, we hope we have made it easy for you to decide.
As you might already know, acoustic fences are specifically designed for the said purpose only. There is a wide variety of acoustic fences available in the market made from different materials such as timber, Hebel power fences, etc. These fences are as effective as brick or masonry walls due to its thicker, denser, tongue and groove interlocking timbers built. They, too, come with a slightly higher price tag but certainly not more than what building a brick wall may cost.
Also, if you are looking for something that is both efficient for providing acoustic value and looks good on the surface, this might be your pick.
Wooden fencing could be a good option, but it’s not that useful if you are dealing with higher noise levels. However, if you are adamant about using wood for your garden fence, we have got a way for you.
Since we know that height is the key element for any noise barrier, we should aim for a fence that is high and solid (no gaps between the boards.)
And to further improve the wooden fencing’s effectiveness, you can add a soundproofing material called “mass-loaded vinyl” to it. You can buy the product in rolls, but make sure it’s listed for outdoor use. Moreover, you should do some research on your own before you head over to the market to make a purchase.
Wooden fences may not cost you much but keep this in mind that they are susceptible to fire and prone to rotting.[Related Article: Does Vinyl Fence Block Sound And Noise?]
It’s particularly not a type of fencing that works well when it comes to preventing unwanted sound, but for the past few years, peoples seem to be more inclined towards it. And that could be due to its durability and perhaps for the very reason that it is the most cost-efficient option against low-level airborne noise. Metal fences come into a wide variety that can be categorized into two groups: closed and open.
For closed varieties, it would be inaccurate to say that they don’t work at all because they do but only to a certain extent, and that too for the areas requiring lower noise reduction. Metal fences have proven ineffective for tackling road noise issues because they tend to add to a high level of resonance and regeneration.
And for open varieties such as wire or chain link, you don’t even want us to tell you that it’s clearly not recommended for soundproofing – almost no acoustic properties.
Coming to its downsides, metal fencing is the least effective of all, and the aesthetics are not long-lasting or versatile. Additionally, it cannot withstand strong winds, thus not suitable for coastal areas (unless you’ve invested in very thicker metallic panels.)
BOTTOM LINE: A useful rule of thumb to keep in mind is that mass dampens sounds best. Thus, whatever fencing type you choose, if it serves to block road sounds, it needs to be heavier than most other fencings used ordinarily.
2. Plant Hedges Around the Garden
Hedges doesn’t only add greenery to space or make it look good, but it has several psychological benefits as well. According to studies conducted, it has been scientifically proven that plants help in relieving stress, so why not plant hedges anyway?
Now, before we get into this any further, we would like to tell you if you are aiming to plant hedges primarily for battling traffic noise problems in your garden, the results you’ll get may not be as fruitful as by erecting a wall or fence. To put it simply, hedges can’t replace a need for a wall.
Hedges uses the principle of sound absorption to reduce noise, but since they aren’t greatly dense, sound waves can still get through them. However, the sound will be more muffled.
Secondly, anyone looking forward to an immediate solution for the noise issues will not practically get any sort of results from hedging. If you plant young shrubs today to grow them into hedges, you will have to wait for the next 4-5 years until they grow to a level where they are sufficient to block noise. Some shrubs have a much-slower growing rate and could take up to several years before they get densely grown and mature enough to help you get some relief from unwanted sound.
However, if you can’t wait, there is another option for you to buy established pot-grown hedge bushes, which invariably comes with a hefty price. But anyway, if you want to give it a try, below are some of the crucial aspects that you should keep in mind.
To make an effective noise barrier, hedges need to be thick, dense, and mature. The wider and bushy it will be, the better it can trap the sound waves, thus muffling the noise to an increased percentage. Also, as we know, the height of the barrier plays an important role, so if it’s getting hard to reach that level of height with shrubs, you can try planting evergreen trees interspersed between hedges. For example, you can make use of Poplars, Alders, or Aspen.
Broadleaf evergreens species are more suitable for acoustic purposes than narrow-leaf plants. You should aim for shrubs that have thick and dense branches reaching all the way to the ground upwards, such as Spruce, Hollies, or Junipers.
Lastly, you should know that hedges require year-round maintenance and regular pruning to retain its density, so if you plan to plant, you better take care of it.
3. Mask the Traffic Noise
Where it’s mentioned that to get rid of the noise, you can only block it out, why not consider obscuring it and deflecting your attention to other pleasant ones? This is essentially not a workaround to block the unwanted sound, but it’s more about adding desirable sound or white noise to your garden to mask the undesirable noises, so you aren’t anymore bothered with the traffic nuisance.
This strategy is probably the least effective of all the solutions shared above, but you can pair it with the others to maximize your garden’s noise reduction properties or just give it a chance to see how it works for you. Now, there could be different ways to do it, and below, we have some of the prominent sources you can choose from according to your taste and preference.
For a garden, a water feature could be anything ranging from fountains, pools, ponds, drills, artificial waterfall, or streams. However, the main idea behind choosing the type of water feature you should go for is to look for something capable enough to mask the road noise.
You can build a low-maintenance water feature if you don’t want to consume more time cleaning or maintaining it. There are tons of DIY ideas floating over the internet, so in that case, you don’t even have to call professionals for it. Decide your budget, and you are ready.
And for its placement, you should ideally try to keep it in between you and the noise source if it’s practically possible for you to do so. We can assure you that the sound of trickling water will be astoundingly relaxing.
On a serious note, wind chimes are a great invention. Try placing a number of chimes in your garden, and you will be amazed to know how effortlessly these pretty hanging elements mask the unwanted noise with its soothing and tranquil sound. Wind chimes are made up of different materials such as metal, wood, seashells, glass, and come in various styles, sizes, and shapes.
Chimes can be tuned to particular notes and sounds, ranging from pleasant tinkling to noisy clanging, so when you head out to buy some, make sure you are buying the ones that clam you the most.
4. Add More Trees and Greenery
Well again, this is not a solution that can give you immediate results, so if you are in a hurry, understandably, you should stick to the 1st or 3rd methods or both.
It’s somewhat true that trees don’t benefit much in reducing noise, but having enough vegetation and greenery certainly helps enhance the garden’s sound attenuating properties. However, certain types of trees are quite effective than others in terms of sound prevention. Below are some of the names you can do your research on:
- Leyland Cypress
- Eastern White Pine
These are basically the evergreen trees with larger limbs and branches that provide the much-needed density and all year round foliage to prevent excessive noise pollution.
5. “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” Effect
A sound barrier not only physically reduces the noise, but it also tricks you into believing that now your garden is quieter than before. When you block the line of sight, you can’t anymore see the vehicles running on the road, which reduces the perceived noise levels you may have in your mind.
Conclusion: How To Reduce Noise In The Garden?
A Garden is not a garden when all you hear is beeps and vrooms coming out of nearby busy streets. Excessive noise doesn’t only irritate but could give rise to hypertension, sleep disturbances, and other health issues. Even if you are someone who’s not easily bothered with the hums of engines or doesn’t crave silence often, you should still invest in your peace.
Here in this guide, we have mentioned some of the potential methods to help you eliminate the road noise from your garden. In some cases, where noise levels are low, making small changes such as incorporating garden accessories or plants would help. But in others, you may require to opt for more robust solutions that include erecting a wall or fence.
If unsure about which way to go, it’s advisable to seek help from a professional acoustic consultant.