We’re living in a busy world with increased noise pollution from the roads, industries, machines, and other sources. If this noise gets into our homes, it can rob us of tranquillity, sleep, and other health-friendly stuff when trying to have fun in our backyard.
This is especially true for folks living in the suburbs where highway noise is routine.
Studies have repeatedly proved that continuous noise pollution can deprive you of sleep, bring you closer to noise-induced hearing loss (Healthline.com), cause stress, raise your anxiety, and do more damage than good to your health.
No one would like to experience the above when there are surefire ways to keep noise away from their backyard.
Read our comprehensive guide to know how you can alleviate highway noise and noise from the neighborhood so that you can have a backyard with acceptable living conditions.
Noise Reduction Principles
There are mainly two principles of noise reduction that can guide you to the right option for bringing back your heaven in earth back to earth. They’re known as noise Deflection and noise Attenuation.
What’s Noise Deflection?
Noise deflection refers to when sound bounces back after hitting a solid obstacle. It’s one of the best ways to kill the sound. However, it needs solid walls that aren’t flexible because when flexible walls vibrate, they help sound travel in all directions; hence, someone on the other side of the obstacle can still hear it.
Various factors make an obstacle effective in “returning” noise. We’ve also discussed such factors in this article.
What Is Sound Attenuation?
Sound attenuation happens when the energy produced by sound waves gets dissipated into heat by blockades. Consequently, the receiver (you) perceives the sound in a mild form because of reduced wave mass.
So here are the ways to alleviate sound that comes from nearby traffic and the neighborhood.
Put Up A Fence
This is the first option that comes to mind whenever one thinks about reducing noise in their backyard. However, there are many types of fences, your choice of which depends on the intensity of the sound, its source, proximity, and other factors.
You can use concrete walls made of bricks and cement to deflect noise from the highway and neighborhood. Denser concrete walls are better at reducing noise by deflection than lighter or porous ones.
While it can reduce noise up to 50 percent (which means a lot to the ear), it’s quite expensive to put up.
These are soundproofing fences engineered with noise reduction in mind. They come in the recommended height and thickness. While they’re cheaper and more beautiful than brick/concrete walls, they’re generally more expensive than the other options. They can also reduce 50+ percent of noise.
While wooden fences are cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to install, they aren’t suitable for high-intensity noise reduction, as their effectiveness is only around 25 percent.
Again, they’re susceptible to rot and theft, especially if your choice is wrong. Nevertheless, they can be a great option if you go for the right type.
A metal fence is a better alternative to wooden fences due to their increased effectiveness. They’re also generally cost-effective and easy to put up. However, they lack aesthetics and aren’t very good for loud sounds unless they’re very thick (which can be very costly!)
Thick hedges also have a significant effect on reducing noise intensity by attenuation. The plants involved have health and aesthetic benefits, not to mention having the ability to help you reduce stress levels.
They also have downsides, as they’re not as effective as concrete and artificial walls. Likewise, they take too long to become fully effective.
NOTE: It’s a noble idea to pair it with another fencing option.
Add Running Water (White Noise) To Your Backyard
Another alternative to fencing is installing a running water feature in your backyard to fight the aggressive sounds from hooting cars, alarms, screeching tires, and other sources.
Running water is a soothing type of white noise that can help you get the calmness you need. Consider installing such running water features as a water fountain, small waterfall, or flowing stream.
Get an expert to help you install the feature closer to where you need silence than where it comes from, to make the effect more significant.
Trees can also do the magic. What’s surprising is that they work in multiple ways to achieve the primary goal of alleviating aggressive noise. While they’re good at attenuation, closely packed trees can also work by deflection, while some trees can create white noise when the wind blows.
Good examples of white-noise trees are oak and pine. Another way by which trees create white noise is by attracting birds, which sing melodiously. It’s important that you choose only the trees that grow fast so that your patience isn’t eroded.
Remember that trees are a long-term noise reduction solution, so you need to use other ways to reduce traffic noise before they fully grow.
Also, take care not to use trees that will quickly wilt or develop diseases that can put them out when you need them the most.
Factors Affecting Sound Barrier Effectiveness
To block sound from reaching you, you got to put up a blockade that has a greater height than the source of the sound itself. This way, you’re blocking it from “spilling” over the wall into your backyard.
Experts recommend that you stick to walls that are at least two meters high. This is the height that is above most sound sources. Moreover, if sound travels above it, it’s also above your head.
NOTE: Always check with your local authority’s legal code for the acceptable wall height.
The density (or rigidity) of a sound barrier has a very huge effect on sound penetration. Thicker and more rigid walls will deflect sound more effectively than thin, flexible walls that allow it to travel through by vibration.
However z the latter can be effective when the blockade is far away from the source.
Placement in this context refers to how close your barrier is to the source of the noise. Well, the right placement of your wall should be closest to the source.
Why? I heard you ask.
Because it reduces the distance (hence volume) of sound waves that have to travel before reaching your backyard. Likewise, you should also stay closest to the wall on the inside to reduce the amount of sound that reaches you.
You shall have done nothing by erecting a wall with lots of openings underneath or anywhere else on it. Any openings will obviously allow sound. Therefore, ensure that the barrier is both airtight and thick.
The Bottom Line
These methods will help you go old school with hooting cars, screeching tires, noisy diesel-propelled lawnmowers, and other unpleasant sounds from your homestead’s environment. Use them to enjoy reading books, chatting with friends, and doing more activities undisturbed in a quiet backyard.