If you live anywhere near an arterial or collector street, you know that traffic noise is one of the greatest generators of noise in cities and suburbs. In fact, if your home is on a busy street, or close to one, traffic noise can actually become a quality of life issue, making it difficult to enjoy time spent outdoors and even inhibiting sleep. Add to that the fact that most municipalities have laws in place that prohibit the construction of walls and fences tall enough to provide an effective sound barrier, and you've got a real challenge on your hands.
Tall hedges, effective landscaping, smart backyard design, and natural sources of soothing white noise can all make a huge difference when used together effectively. Talking to a quality landscaper about developing the right landscaping for reducing city noise on your property is the best way go. Nevertheless, here's some tried and true ideas for combating that urban din.
One popular way to both provide an effective noise barrier and comply with city building codes is by planting hedges. Tall hedges aren't subject to height limitations, and when cultivated and planned properly, and in combination with high-quality sound abatement fencing, they provide beautiful and effective sound barriers between your yard and busy streets.
Hedges and trees are also an excellent way to provide your yard and home with more privacy, another common concern for those living on busy thoroughfares. Be sure to talk a landscaper or nursery about choosing the right plants for your situation, space, and climate. Ideally you want a hedge that grows up without growing out, and the faster it grows the better. You can enhance the soundproofing effects of this type of berm landscape by incorporating acoustical fence into the foliage. Acoustifence is easily hidden within foliage, providing a much more effective sound barrier than the foliage alone without, interfering with aesthetics.
Avoid plants that put off fruits or berries since they can make more mess than they're worth, and always look for vegetation that won't demand much upkeep or watering on your part. Choose low maintenance acoustical fencing as well; the best noise abatement fencing should be easily cleaned simply by hosing it off,
Besides vegetation and acoustical fencing, there are other options for landscape design that can help make dealing with city noise easier. Building a deck on the opposite side of the home from the road, for example, can seriously reduce the amount of city noise you deal with when you're grilling, entertaining, or just enjoying a good book on a warm spring day. If that isn't an option for you, building a privacy wall or hanging acoustical fence on the street-facing side of your deck can work wonders. And while height restrictions can limit their effectiveness, an acoustical privacy fence or a rock or brick wall bordering your property can still make a difference when used in conjunction with tall hedges and other sound reducing strategies.
Excerpted from an article by Matt Goering on Servicemagic.com.