Unless you live in a remote location, your house will naturally be surrounded by noise from the streets.
For some people, the everyday noise that comes with the hustle-and-bustle of the city is not an issue, but for most of us, especially those who work from home and need a quieter and more peaceful environment, noise is a constant problem that needs to be solved.
Believe it or not, plants like shrubs, bushes, and hedges can block some of that noise for you!
The best plants to block noise, including bushes, hedges, and shrubs, are:
- Western Red Cedar
- Conifer trees
- Leyland Cypress
- White pine
Read on to learn more about plants’ ability to block noise and to know the best kinds of bushes, hedges, and trees for sound absorption. This article will also provide tips on effectively using plants for soundproofing.
Also read: How To Block Road Noise With Trees
The best shrubs and bushes that block noise are as follows:-
Juniper shrubs have thick branches at ground level, which makes for an excellent noise-cancellation property. Wildlife also thrives in this plant species because its flowers have pollen that produces berries and cones.
If you’re looking to buy low-maintenance soundproofing shrubs, you should consider Juniper for its ability to survive in adverse conditions with little to no management.
Holly shrubs are one of the best bushes that absorb and bounce back noise year-round.
Holly shrubs can be pretty small, but some variants can grow up to 50 feet (15.24 meters) tall and 40 feet (12.19 meters) wide. Holly shrubs’ quick-growing leaves are dense, making them an effective sound barrier.
If you want a more festive-looking shrub that can help you with your noise concerns at home, you should look into your local Holly shrubs as they are known for their red berries, which can add to your property’s aesthetic value.
Viburnum shrubs produce both flowers and fruit that are attractive to wildlife. They also reduce noise throughout the year because Viburnum is an evergreen species.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, this shrub has broad, heavy leaves, which are more effective at blocking sounds than plants with light and narrower leaves. Additionally, a research study by Leeuwen (2016) concluded that viburnum bushes reduce sound by 15 decibels.
Bushes and shrubs are low-growing plants with multiple branches. They slightly differ in size, location, and density. A shrub is taller than a bush and is generally pruned in private properties, while a bush grows naturally in the wild.
Also, some people define a bush as a clump of multiple shrubs. Still, other than these subtle differences, shrubs, and bushes are very similar, and you can use the two terms interchangeably.
The best hedges that block noise are as follows:-
Also known as Thuja plicata, Western red cedar is an easy-to-maintain plant. These hedges often serve as a safe ground for birds and other wildlife. If you’re on a budget, you can consider buying this plant as it is pretty common and inexpensive.
The western red cedar has very dense leaves, which are great for a successful noise reduction. Western red cedar is also fast-growing, so you can opt to buy a less-developed one for a lower price.
Murraya is one of the most suitable noise-reduction hedges with rapid and dense growth habits. Murraya should be at the top of your list if you live in a warm climate because it is a hot climate plant.
Aside from being an excellent noise blocker, Murraya hedges also provide privacy, wind protection, and enticing fragrance for your yard.
Boxwood, or Buxus sempervirens, is a low-maintenance, evergreen hedge. It is a popular choice for sound blocking among homeowners because of its thick and tightly-packed leaves. As these leaves are denser than other types of hedges, they absorb the most sound and serve as a thick barrier between your house and the outside sources of unpleasant sound.
The best trees that block noise are as follows:-
Conifer is a type of tree that grows needle-shaped, evergreen leaves. According to BBC, a laboratory-based sound absorption test concluded that out of 13 tree species, conifer (or cone-bearing) trees were the most effective in taking in noise from the environment.
Conifer trees such as spruce, pine, fir, cypress, and hemlock also look stunning. Over time, they can also reach astounding heights, and they make a lovely, dense barrier between you and the rest of the noisy world.
As a fast-growing tree that increases in height by 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.91 meters) every year, Leyland Cypress (Leylandii) has become one of the most popular noise-absorbing trees in the US. Its dense foliage makes for a thick wall that helps drown out unwanted sounds.
It also has an evergreen nature which means you get to take advantage of a quieter environment throughout the year once your tree develops into an established one.
Also called the “tree of great peace” by Native Americans, white pine is one of the most common trees planted and seen in the US. Aside from its visual appeal, white pine also dampens sound thanks to its thick trunk and enormous height that can even go beyond 100 feet (30.48 meters).
White pine thrives in a wide range of climates and terrains. Researchers for Virginia’s Department of Transportation recommend planting interspersed white pine trees to reduce noise in Virginia interstates with these advantages in mind.
According to the Journal of Environmental Health, noise pollution is one of the four major pollutants, and it reduces the quality of both human health and the environment.
If you’re having noise concerns at home, maybe you’re looking for ways to solve and lessen these annoying sounds. The good news is that you can use plants as – believe it or not – noise barriers.
Aside from adding aesthetic value to your house, they can also serve as a solution to your noise issues! Parts of the plant, like leaves, stems, and branches, reduce sound in an area since they work like soundproofing materials to absorb and deflect soundwaves.
Plants can block noise through sound attenuation, reducing volume and quality in sound waves. Bushes, hedges, shrubs, and trees are the best for soundproofing since they are dense and refract soundwaves.
Studies show that plants lessen noise pollution through four basic mechanisms: refraction, deflection, absorption, and masking. So, let’s talk more about how each of these processes will work to keep your home quiet:
Generally, sound refraction occurs when the direction of sound waves changes as they move from one medium to another. In this context, plants can block sound waves.
The more texture a plant has, the more noise it will refract. Plants with tons of leaves, like bushes, vines, and rough-barked trees, will thus block out noise and muffle it a bit.
Deflection in plants happens when sounds bounce off a particular surface back towards the source of the noise, as stated by ecology writer Anna Nordseth, Ph.D. The denser the plant, the more sound it can bounce back.
Having said this, you can say that tree trunks are the best deflectors because they are thick and they do not vibrate. When sound waves approach, they bounce off the trunk and back towards the source.
On the other hand, the more light and agile parts of the plant, such as the leaves, will vibrate and turn sound waves into energy forms. It can also cause interference in sound waves, which, in turn, cancels noise.
Noise absorption occurs when sound waves come into contact with absorbent materials. Dense-leafed plants and trees have plenty of bumps, and when they take in sounds, the outcome is noise cancellation.
According to a research study by Khan et al. in 2016, the acoustic absorption effectivity of plants is dependent on the leaf area density and angle of leaf orientation. However, tree bark is the most effective at sound absorption compared to leaves because the bark is denser and has a greater surface area.
Plants naturally produce pleasant sounds that might drown out other noises.
Some examples of these calming sounds are the rustling of leaves and the swaying of tree trunks. Most plants also attract birds and other wildlife whose chirping reduces unwanted noise. Although these sounds won’t make your outdoor spaces quieter, they might just make busy city sounds less noticeable.
According to a recent study from the University of Sussex, the sound of nature promotes human relaxation and well-being. That means that masking is the most critical noise-reducing mechanism of plants.
So far, we’ve mentioned soundproofing plants and trees that have thick trunks and dense leaves. Although it does not have these features, bamboo can also be an excellent option for sound reduction.
Bamboo blocks noise when it grows in dense patches. It grows faster than any hedgerow plant, and the clump develops densely when it does. However, sometimes bamboo forests can take over your lawn, so be cautious when choosing bamboo as a barrier.
Bamboo’s rapid, dense growth explains why bamboo is an excellent choice for sound absorption, just like other leafy plants. In addition to its noise buffering capacity, bamboo can also serve as a visually appealing privacy screen.
According to Noise Vibration Air Consultant Hans J.A. Van Leeuwen, making barriers out of bamboo also comes with economic advantages. It is a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to “hard” and “concrete” screens. Because of these characteristics, bamboo becomes cheaper in construction and management.
Now that you already know the kinds of soundproofing plants and trees to buy for your noise concerns, it is also essential for you to take note of other ways to reduce unpleasant sounds on your property.
In choosing plants for noise reduction, factors to consider include budget, timeframe, climate, and space. One of the most important among these things is the time frame. When buying plants, make sure that you choose those types that correspond to how long you’re willing to wait before the plants become dense enough to block out noise.
Saplings usually cost significantly less than established plants, but it may take years for them to develop enough to serve as noise barriers. In this case, you will just be losing money for the wrong purchase if you choose a less-developed plant.
If noise is an urgent, pressing concern in your house, don’t hesitate to take advantage of the more costly but already developed plants. Purchasing larger plants will cost more in terms of the purchase price and planting costs, but they will provide you with immediate relief from loud noises outside your home.
Planting various noise-blocking plants is suitable for several purposes, not just for noise reduction but also for wildlife shelter, mental well-being improvement, and enhancement of your property’s sense of space. So, it might take some searching to find the best foliage for you, and you’ll need to weigh out the costs against the benefits.
Additionally, if plants are not enough to reduce disturbing noise in your area, you can add calming sounds to counter unpleasant ones.
One way of doing this is by inserting a water feature–like a garden fountain–for flowing water sound effects that can mimic nature. You can also opt for weatherproof speakers to install in your garden.
Overall, you need to be safe from noise pollution so that you can keep your home a peaceful place. Plants give you the solution for this problem since they block noise, and their visual presence boosts your mental and physical state.
As such, this article discussed how plants block sounds, answered your questions about the noise reduction capacity of bamboo, and provided a list of the best bushes, trees, and hedges for noise attenuation. Follow our tips and guides to achieve your goal of a more peaceful, quieter, and beautiful space to live in.
- Study.com: Sound Attenuation: Definition and Effects
- Physics Classroom: Reflection, Refraction, Diffraction
- Conservation Wiki: Sound Absorption
- Research Gate: Sound Absorption by Living Plants
- Nature.com: Mind-Wandering and Alterations to Default Mode Network Connectivity When Listening to Naturalistic Versus Artificial Sounds
- Research Gate: The Investigation of Noise Attenuation by Plants and the Corresponding Noise-Reducing Spectrum
- Gardening Know-How: Juniper Shrubs: How To Take Care Of Junipers
- Green Upside: What Plants Make A Good Sound Barrier? (15 Noise Canceling Plants)
- Inter-Noise 2016: Bamboo Plants as a Noise Barrier To Reduce Road Traffic Noise
- OZBreed.org: Murraya Hedges, Plants & Trees – 2018 Growers Guide
- Garden Guides: The Difference Between a Shrub & a Bush
- BBC News: Conifer Is Top Tree in Urban Sound Absorption Test
- King & Co.: Reduce Noise Pollution With Hedge Plants and Trees
- Virginia DOT: Highway Noise Reduction Experiment
- Research Gate: Bamboo Plants as a Noise Barrier To Reduce Road Traffic noise