Backyards are the usual place we go to near our home where we can relax. It’s also the area where we’d like to hold BBQ parties, birthday parties, and other private activities we wish to have with close family and friends.
However, if your house is located in a city area, the words “serene,” “relaxing,” and “private” may not be the exact words you can use to describe your backyard. More common than it’s not, traffic noise can easily be heard.
So, how do you reduce traffic noise in your backyard?
Moving out is probably one of the best solutions. But, if the area is close to your heart, this is hard to do.
Fortunately, there are still things you can do to reduce outside noise so you can enjoy your time in your backyard. Here are some of them:
- Install Fences around you Backyard To Minimize Traffic Noise
- use Noise Blocker plants to entrap or absorb sound vibrations In Landscapes
- re-design your landscape for noise reduction
- Drown Out the Noise In Your Backyard by Creating Desirable Sounds
Now, these steps may sound complicated, but actually, it’s not. It will only involve a few tweaking of your yard so you can achieve the desired privacy you need.
Below, we will go through each of the steps and discuss the benefits of each.
Install Fences around your Backyard
Building a Wall and a Fence that would separate your backyard from the road is one of the most effective ways to reduce traffic noise.
This serves as a sound barrier that blocks noise from the road to give you the quiet you need.
In choosing the right fence, there are a lot of factors you would need to keep in mind to plan out your fence installation effectively.
- Density: Generally, the denser the fence, the more sound it can deflect. However, it also can’t be too flexible as it will create a lot of vibrations that can be even more irritating.
- Height: Remember, your fence can’t be shorter than the source of the sound. If it is, then it would be useless as the sound can just quickly pass through. An effective sound barrier to reduce traffic noise should be at least two meters in height.
- Coverage: When installing a fence, everything must be covered. Even the tiniest gaps can become a passageway of noise, so make sure you don’t give them that.
- Placement: Where you would install the fence is very important. Naturally, the closer the wall is to the noise source, the better. This way, the noise won’t have an opportunity to travel anymore since there’s already a blockage.
- Durability: Durability doesn’t necessarily affect soundproofing; however, it’s something that you would need to consider. A durable fence would also mean one-time fencing only—no more headaches, plus years of peace.
- Appearance: Remember, this is the first thing your neighbors will see every time they pass by your yard. A beautiful fence is a pleasing view, and it will help you relax more when you’re relaxing in your backyard.
Types of Fences
Now that you have the list of factors to consider, it’s only right to know the types of fences you can choose from.
I’ve also included some pros and cons of each type to help you weigh which fence or wall would be best when it comes to reducing outside traffic noise.
Timber Fence is the most popular and also the cheapest out of all fence types. The options for timber fences are endless.
They can be used for decorative purposes, or as a soundproof solution to your home.
It is strong, durable, and is an ideal solution to your traffic noise problem.
If you’re planning to do some DIY work, then the material is also the easiest to work with. Maintaining it yourself will be easy as well.
The most significant disadvantage, however, is that the timber would need to undergo some pre-processes before you can use it as a fence.
Meaning, it should be sealed and coated if you would want it to last longer.
Also, for sound insulation, it needs to be very thick for it to be an effective noise blocker.
If you have the budget, then you can opt for a more high-end option, which is the brick fences.
Brick-fences will not only be an extremely effective sound barrier, but it also provides privacy and security.
You can expect that brick fences come with a solid base, so there’s very little maintenance needed, plus it will definitely last long.
To make it look pleasing to the eyes, you can even combine other elements to give it that modern look.
Brick fences, however, are costly. Also, it would be hard to install them on your own.
You would need to call an expert and effectively plan the fence set-up you need.
Another type of fence you can put up is a modular fence. Modular Fences are almost similar to brick fences but at a more affordable price. Also, it is a lot faster to install than brick fences.
Modular Fences gives off that sleek and modern vibe that will surely turn the eyes of anyone passing by. Plus, it is known to reduce noise by up to 50% effectively.
Although it is more affordable than brick fences, it is still a more expensive choice than using timber or fences types. This could be a problem for those who are on a budget.
Another economical and budget-friendly fence is the metal fence. It is durable and very sturdy as well.
If you’re planning to do some DIY, then Metal Fences are also very easy to install.
However, as a sound barrier, it’s the least effective as it has almost no acoustic properties.
And when it comes to aesthetics, it’s not the most pleasing to the eye. Plus, it can give off heat during scorching weather.
Brushwood Fences would rank A+ when it comes to obstructing noise, durability, and affordability.
In fact, it is so effective in blocking sounds that it might be impossible to hear if there’s a commotion outside your backyard (which can also be a downside in emergencies).
It is also extremely durable and can last for up to 30 years (or more if taken care of well).
However, it may come off rustic and may not be an excellent fence for urbanized or modern-styled areas.
Plus, the design may not look the same in the next few years. It will also not be an excellent option for those living in the bushfire area, as this can easily catch fire.
Hedges are plant-based fences that are effective sound barriers as well.
They deaden sounds by deflecting or absorbing them through their little leaves.
They are also aesthetically appealing to the eyes and will surely relax you.
It’s also beneficial during the summer since it can give off cooler air in your backyard.
Hedges would need a lot of care, watering, and some expert trimming from time to time, which can also be costly.
Also, it might take time for them to grow. It needs careful planning, especially with the spacing.
Planting Noise Blocker Plants For Noise Reduction
Another excellent way, and perhaps the most appealing way, to block noise is by using plants.
If you’ve ever been to a forest or you’ve been hiking with nature, then you have probably experienced the serene silence being surrounded by plants.
Not to mention decreasing your stress level and anxiety. Plants and trees can absorb and deflect sounds through their soft leaves.
This makes them capable enough to prevent noise from the roadside to reach your backyard.
Another advantage is that it gives off a breath of fresh air to your yard, especially if you’re in the city area.
Some factors you would need to consider for effective sound blocking are:
- Number of Plants: Ideally, the more plants you have in your backyard, the more effective it is in deadening sounds. This is because the surface area is more utilized. Just make sure that you are also able to arrange the plants well for better effectiveness.
- Size of the Plant: The bigger the plant, the more effective it is in absorbing the sound, too, especially if there are more leaves. This is because more sounds can also be deflected before it can reach your backyard.
- Plant Placement and Spacing: When planting the plant, make sure that you calculate how much space they can occupy once they reach maturity. This way, you’ll be able to estimate the gaps and make sure you get to cover them all.
Added to that, you need to plan out the arrangement too. You can ask a landscape artist to help you plan this in a way that it will serve its purpose.
You can use a combination of hedges, shrubs, and trees to reduce noise better.
For example, you can place a row of bushes near the source, add a row of trees behind them, and another row of plants near your home.
There are a lot of plants you can choose from, and you can base it on their color and fragrance if you want to.
Here’s a list of some sound-absorbing plants that you can put on your yard:
- Evergreen shrubs
- Western Red Cedar
- Green Leylandii
- Aureo Marginata
You can also ask for some advice from an expert landscaper if what type of plant is right for your soil, or would best match the aesthetics you want.
Sink an Outdoor Living Space
Aside from adding plants, you can even go the extra-mile and re-design your landscape for noise reduction. This means sinking one area of your outdoor space.
This is usually the best course to take if you can’t install a fence or wall. Or you can add it if you’re feeling a little extra.
I don’t mean to sink the whole landscape as that would take a lot of time, but you can actually sink just a small area.
This area can be utilized as a gathering space with friends and family if you’d like to have some casual talk.
Being lower than the rest of the space will give you that privacy and quiet.
Plus, it’s almost the same as creating a fence, except that it’s underground.
Again, you can ask an expert landscaper about this. You can include this in your planning of adding some plants around your garden.
It can also give your backyard some modern vibe as not a lot of people are doing this.
Drown Out the Noise by Creating Desirable Sounds
Lastly, create desirable sounds. If you can’t install a fence or if you already have and there’s still noise coming through, then adding sounds that you want to hear can be a great sound barrier too.
Ideally, these sounds should be nearer to you, plus it should be something that could help you relax.
This way, these sounds would be what you hear first thing in the morning and not the traffic noise.
In other words, it will drown out the irritating sounds, giving you better privacy.
Investing in some water features would be a great way to reduce traffic noise too.
You might think that a streaming flow of water would be just additional noise, however, isn’t this much better than hearing the irritating traffic flow in the morning?
Some water features you can add are water fountains or a synthetic water stream.
There are water features that can be manually controlled so you can turn the water up, so it’s louder during the noisier times of the day.
Other than this, water features are also significant additional aesthetics to your whole backyard.
Placing some outdoor music is a great way to drown out the traffic noise too.
This is great to have if you are having a party as they are perfect entertainment. Who doesn’t like music, right?
You can place outdoor speakers around your backyard where you can play some music when needed. Yes, only when needed.
I’m not telling you to play some music every day or play something loud, or else, your neighbor will be the next one complaining about the noise. You don’t want that.
Invest in a white noise machine. These are compact and portable machines that you would certainly want to have with you when you’re in your backyard.
If you can’t install a water feature or have some outdoor speakers, a white noise machine is an affordable option for you.
You can go to your patio to relax and just place it beside you. It’s a very effective way of drowning out sounds because it’s near you, and it’s away from the source.
There are a lot of ways that you can block noise traffic. You deserve privacy, peace, and quiet. Just follow the few steps above, and you’re good to go.
You won’t even have to do everything, but feel free to use a combination of two or three of them.
For example, you can install a timber fence since it’s the most affordable fencing type, then add some plants to help absorb sounds that can still go through.
Then, finally, invest in a white noise machine that you can keep beside you while you rest on your patio.
Just those three steps and you have already reduced a significant amount of noise.
Added to that, you should also review city laws regarding fence installation or other backyard improvements to make sure that you don’t break anything.
The last thing you would want is to have officers coming to your house. So, be sure to check in with legal too.
And that’s it! Don’t tolerate traffic noise if it’s disturbing your peace. The steps above are meant to help you get back that silence you deserve.
Jessica is a Acoustical Engineer, currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. After graduating from her degree in Master of Engineering degree in Acoustics from Solent University in 2014, Jessica worked for a few companies before She will be blogging about her past and current experiences in the studio and sharing her journey as she pursues her career goals. She enjoy the balance of work inside and out of the office, solving practical problems on a daily basis as every project is different and requires a different solution, the variety of work (sound insulation testing, background noise survey, mechanical plant commissioning, external plant assessment, plant room breakout assessments) and the mix of independent and team work.