5 Tips for Soundproofing Your Outdoor Spaces
If noise from traffic, construction, or neighbors makes you feel less than relaxed, check out these sound-reducing remedies to bring peace and tranquility to your outdoor spaces.
If you live near a busy street or highway, hear barking dogs frequently, or have neighbors who enjoy partying late at night, the extra noise may be distracting or contribute to stress. Just because the world bustles around you, your quality of life doesn’t need to diminish.
Unwanted noise can be minimized in the outdoor spaces where you hang out, and you can help contain your own noise to keep your neighbors happy, too. Here are five ways to bring a bit more peace and quiet to the backyard.
Drown Out Loud Noise With Soothing Sounds
Adding a sound to your yard that you like is one way to mask loud noises. Also known as creating white noise, it creates a calmer, more serene atmosphere. Things like wind chimes or gurgling and splashing water in a small water feature creates a sound that can be in a similar frequency range as those we tend to find grating, like loud air conditioners, lawn mowers, or screaming kids.
Other things that create a masking white noise include wind blowing through plants, rustling of leaves, bamboo, and quaking aspen, or pleasant sounds from animals. If your backyard doesn’t offer these sounds naturally, consider an outdoor white noise machine that mimics the sounds.
Install a Noise-Reducing Fence or Wall
If you’re able to put in a thick, high fence or wall, you can dramatically cut down on noise created by traffic, kids playing, and other sources by about 5 to 10 decibels. The best materials for noise-reducing purposes are brick, stone, or stucco-covered concrete. If the noise isn’t too bad, solid wood can help, too.
Since dense structures reflect sound waves, the key is to make your fence or wall as solid and as tall as the local municipal permitting allows, while still maintaining the ideal aesthetic. No matter how tall a fence or wall, keep in mind that sound can still travel over a fence, even a soundproof one.
Plant Some Vegetation
An affordable way to help reduce the amount of sound that is transmitted to your yard, as well as the sound going from your yard is through vegetation. Plant some shrubs, trees, hedges, and other thick plants to see noise levels drop by up to 10 decibels. For best results all-year-round, choose evergreens like hollies, spruces, arborvitaes, and pines.
Ideal choices for reducing sound are dense, broad-leaf evergreen hedges that stay thick and green throughout the year, or junipers with dense branches. These kinds of plants block sound more effectively than plants with narrower leaves. Plus, they can visually balance out and warm up what might be a colder aesthetic from a fence.
Landscape Downward or Upward
If the layout and budget are available to you, bringing your outdoor space to a lower level than your home is another way to reduce sound, and contain more of your noise on your property, too. Be sure to do this with the help of a landscape designer, since any unmanaged drainage issues could leave you with a muddy pool instead of the ideal sunken outdoor room.
Soil also can help act as a sound buffer in a yard. Any soil removed to create the lowered outdoor space can be used to create a raised hill around the yard. This plantable mound can be beneficial by deflecting sound waves like a wall.
Change Your Perception About Sound
Other than the white noise of leaves rustling, a few trees or shrubs don’t usually have a significant effect on noise reduction. However, they can help with the “out of sight, out of mind” mindset, since sound perception can be subjective. The rule of thumb is that if you see the source of a sound, you’ll notice it more easily and be able to hear it better.
Studied in the field of psychoacoustics, the perception of sound is subjective from person to person. A physical sound barrier that’s between you and the busy road might cushion loud noise, and the barrier also encourages you to view your yard as quieter than it really is. This, in turn, creates a much more inviting space to spend time.