Sitting out in your garden after a hard day’s work serves to be a calming experience. But, all the carefully cultivated tranquillity can go right out the proverbial window thanks to traffic noise. If you’re looking for inventive noise reduction techniques to help get some peace back in your yard, you’ve come to the right place.
This feature is entirely dedicated to highlighting various methods of soundproofing your garden – so you can combat noise levels effectively and get back to enjoying the contentment your backyard greenery offers. Ready?
How to reduce road noise in the garden
Ground-level homeowners and those living close to a busy street often find themselves bombarded by sound waves created by nearby activities. These include the sound of cars honking and driving by the chatter of pedestrians or the racket of everyday activities.
Thankfully, there’s more than one way of diminishing noise pollution, and you can decide on the method that suits you best according to your situation. However, before we get to listing off the means of noise reduction, let’s take a moment to discuss the science behind it all.
The three basics of reducing noise include absorption, deflection, or energy conversion. Don’t worry if that sounds like ancient Greek; just scroll down to the relevant easy-peasy explanation instead.
You utilise the sound absorption (aka sound attenuation) technique to combat road noise when you put up a structure (or object) of any kind to absorb the sound waves from a busy road travelling towards your direction.
So, for example, a thick hedge surrounding the perimeter of your premises is a sound absorption technique because it helps muffle the acoustic waves before they reach your ears.
However, how successful an acoustic absorption technique is, depends on the thickness or density of the obstruction. A flimsy obstacle or a material that isn’t very good at absorbing sound isn’t going to serve as a very effective sound-reducing measure.
Much like sound attenuation, sound deflection can also be utilised to help deal with noise problems. Opting for this method of reducing peripheral noise means you’re relying on a structure or object to deflect or bounce back the sound waves travelling towards your house.
So, for example, wooden fences or any wall encircling your home uses the sound deflection method to fight off the incoming decibels.
However, how successful an acoustic deflection method is, depends on various factors, for instance, how tall the barrier is or the strength of structures around the house.
That’s because the acoustic waves might initially travel away from your home, but if there’s another more robust structure nearby, the waves can travel back in your direction again.
Another effective means of fighting sound pollution is creating a barrier from an insulative material that converts sound waves into heat energy.
Once the denser insulative material molecules absorb and convert sound energy into heat energy, it travels sideways through the material to dissipate in the surroundings.
Soundproofing with noise barriers
Now that we’ve discussed the principles most noise barriers rely on, let’s talk about the barrier options homeowners have to soundproof their backyards and gardens.
1. Acoustic fences
Acoustic fences, unlike standard barriers, are designed to leave no gaps for sound waves to break through and disturb the inhabitants of a home.
Despite some sound fences being made from natural materials, like timber, their effectiveness depends on several components – barrier height, barrier construction, material density, source of the noise, among others.
Acoustic fences are slightly costlier than their natural counterparts but are more effective and come with manufacturer guarantees against problems like insect infestations and dry or wet rot.
2. Brick walls
While not exactly the least effective soundproofing method, homeowners tend not to opt for brick walls as a sound deflection technique because it doesn’t blend well with all houses – especially with a modernistic facade.
Additionally, since brick walls tend to bounce back sound waves, there’s no guarantee of the waves not travelling back after bouncing off other structures in the vicinity. There’s also the fact that they’re not precisely inexpensive to make.
Utilising evergreen trees or shrubs as part of your garden landscaping can help you battle excessive sound energy while ensuring the sound barrier doesn’t look out of place. There’s also the bonus of improving your air quality.
However, those who rely on hedges or other types of greenery need to ensure the noise reduction fence includes thick and dense foliage to stop the sound energy from passing through gaps in the fence panel.
Even though this soundproof method is cost-effective, you’ll have to bear costs in terms of maintenance, like pruning, etc. Plus, trees don’t sprout to their natural height overnight, making this method time-consuming as well. Popular tree choices for landscaping purposes include wintergreen arborvitae and Leyland cypress.
4. Metal fences
Metal fencing isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing of all noise-reducing fences and is more often utilised for security purposes.
On their own, closed or chain link/wire fences don’t do much in terms of draining out the peripheral sounds. But, when paired with acoustic barriers, metal fences can be an effective solution in terms of perimeter structures.
Other noise barrier options
Do you know how some people rely on white noise to drown out traffic noise? Similarly, you can choose to introduce other more soothing sounds in your immediate surroundings to cancel out the more unpleasant ones. Here’s how.
1. Water fountains
Water features don’t reduce noise pollution but help mask the unpleasantness of such sounds by introducing calming and soothing ones, like running water.
Additionally, if utilised along with other features like bird feeders, a water source can help attract birdlife to your garden for aesthetic and audible purposes.
The introduction of wind chimes in your garden can be another clever technique to mask unwanted noises from permeating your relaxing space.
Chimes come in a variety of sizes and designs but are mostly inexpensive. You can purchase one from online retailers or create a DIY version to match the theme of your outdoor space.
Want to enjoy the benefits of fresh air and flora – without dealing with too much noise? Why not opt for a conservatory kit and build a refuge within your garden?
Most of the time, conservatories don’t require planning permission or a lot of work to make. But, once your glasshouse is finished, not only will it allow you to enjoy the delights of your garden, but will also help screen sound energy as a white noise technique.
A high fence isn’t all there is to make your garden safe from all types of noise nuisance. There are several other options you can rely on, from the not too costly to ones with long-ranging guarantees, such as wooden fences, acoustic insulation membranes, etc. At the end of the day, the success of your noise-reducing venture will depend on various factors, including how close you are to the noise source. That’s why it’s best to get in touch with professionals and explore all your options before making a definitive choice.
If you live in a busy locale with lots of traffic noise, you’ll likely need to rely on more robust noise cancellation methods. On the other hand, if you face moderate to low traffic in your locale, you can choose to invest in noise masking alternatives like water fountains or wind chimes.