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How to minimize noise pollution through landscaping

How to minimize noise pollution through landscaping

May 19 2016

What do you hear when you open your windows? Is it the sound of birds chirping and bees buzzing, or are you bombarded with honking horns, low-flying airplanes and roaring lawn mowers? If your homeowner experience involves the latter scenario, your health could be at risk.

Research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that noise pollution - or those disruptive outdoor sounds - has a laundry list of complications, including stress, heart disease and simple annoyance. Meanwhile, reducing noise pollution could decrease your risk for these conditions. Plus, a quieter backyard may lead to a happier lifestyle. Here are three ways homeowners can block noise pollution through landscaping:

1. Incorporate solid fences
One way to block sound waves from entering your yard, whether they're from yelling kids or noisy automobiles, is hardscape design with fences. According to This Old House, this strategy has one caveat: the fences must be solid so no noise can slip through their barrier. The thicker these borders are, the more readily sound waves will bounce off of them in the opposite direction. That means chain-link or picket fences won't do the trick.

Additionally, the fence must be tall enough so the noise doesn't creep over the top of it. A stone retaining wall will do the trick if you're on an elevated plot. Otherwise, opt for a fence that reaches all the way to the ground and up above your line of sight. Of course, a towering fence in the front yard doesn't send a welcoming message. Again, this is where shorter retaining walls may be more beneficial. They won't completely block the sound waves, but they may reduce noise if you're are in front of a busy street or located near a school with shouting kids.

House with backyard water fountain.The sound of a backyard water fountain may drown out noise pollution.

2. Plant trees
Similar to installing a fence, you can set up a more natural barrier by planting trees. SFGate? recommended that homeowners plant evergreens, which will reduce noise pollution all year-round. Position the trees compactly so that noise can't squeeze between spaces, and set the border on the edge of your yard. The closer the trees are to the source of the noise, the better they can block the sound waves. Additionally, consider incorporating smaller shrubbery beneath the trees to stop noise pollution from slipping under the evergreens.

3. Create your own noise
If major landscaping design ideas aren't on your agenda, there are simpler options to reduce noise pollution. Consider creating white noise to drown out revved engines or screeching tires. For instance, a babbling water fountain will help with light noise pollution. Meanwhile, playing music through outdoor wireless speakers provides another tactic.

Don't let unwelcome sounds ruin your outdoor living space. There are plenty of ways to block or mask noise pollution.

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