The hum of traffic from nearby roads is one of the most common sounds heard in backyards across the country, reports the "Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives." How loud and annoying this noise is depends on a wide range of factors, such as the speed limit on the road, the type of material the road is made from, and how many cars travel on the road. While you can't control these various factors, you can take several steps to reduce the road noise in your landscape so you and your family can enjoy your backyard with a new sense of tranquility and peace.
1 Add a backyard water feature, such as an artificial waterfall or fountain, to your backyard landscape. These are readily available as boxed kits from hardware and landscaping stores and help mask the noise of nearby traffic by creating white noise. For the best results, set up the water feature as close as possible to where you and your family enjoy your backyard, such as on your patio or near your lawn furniture.
2 Plant a dense mix of shrubs and trees between your backyard and the nearest road. The fewer gaps between the shrubs and trees, and the wider this plant zone, the better. The plants both deflect and absorb sound waves from the road. In general, a 100-foot-wide plant barrier between the road and your backyard can reduce traffic noise by almost 10 decibels, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agroforestry Center.
3 Build a solid-matter wall around the perimeter of your property, such as a concrete or brick wall, that has no gaps between the construction material or between the wall and the ground. For the best traffic noise reduction, the fence must be at least as tall as the listener, so ensure the fence matches the height of the tallest person in your family. At this height, a fence reduces traffic noise by 5 decibels, with each additional meter of height reducing traffic noise by another 1.5 decibels, reports the U.S. Department of Transportation.
4 Reduce the number of hard surfaces in your backyard, which amplify the sound of road noise, and replace them with softer matter. For example, cover up hard lawn furniture with upholstery, or replace a concrete patio with a grass lawn. By simply replacing concrete surfaces with grass, you can reduce the volume of traffic noise by almost 200 percent, according to the University of Nebraska.
Items you will need
- Backyard water feature
- Shrubs or trees
- Solid-matter wall, such as a concrete wall
- A physical wall or a plant barrier made up of trees and shrubs doesn't just physically block and reduce road noise. It also tricks the mind into thinking your backyard is quieter. "Sound perception is highly subjective," reports "This Old House" magazine, and simply hiding the road from your family's line of sight can instantly reduce the perceived level of traffic noise.
- Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives: Clamoring for Quiet -- New Ways to Mitigate Noise
- U.S. Bureau of Reclamation: Appendix E -- Noise
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agroforestry Center: Conservation Buffers
- University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension: Turf in Landscape
- University of Hawaii Extension: Noise Pollution
- This Old House Magazine: Yard Noise Reduction
- U.S. Department of Transportation: Highway Traffic Noise Barriers at a Glance
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images