Consistent exposure to road noise can be stressful enough to increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks. But what are the best trees to block road noise?
The five best trees to block road noise are:
- Thuja Green Giant
- Lawson Cypress
- Escarpment Live Oak
- Spartan Juniper
- Norway Spruce
Let’s explore the best kinds of trees for soundproofing and discuss strategies for designing your living sound barrier.
Figuring out how to block noise from the road can be a challenging task, especially when faced with so many options. Choosing trees that are dense enough to suppress the sound of cars is essential to be able to block out loud noises. Below you will find the 5 best trees to block road noise.
When you need a plant to block road noise, it’s challenging to find anything better than the Thuja Green Giant.
With a maximum height of about 60ft (18m) and a potential width of up to 20ft (6m), these trees have thick foliage that can block noise, helping you enjoy a more peaceful property.
There are quite a few positive aspects of installing Thuja Green Giant trees around your property’s border. Here are a few of the advantages of using a Thuja Green Giant to block road noise:
- Low maintenance
- Experience rapid growth
- Can resist disease
- Able to withstand strong winds
While the Thuja Green Giant is one of the best choices for blocking road-noise, it might not suit your property. For example, these trees are sensitive to salt, so they’re poor choices for homes in coastal areas.
Lawson Cypress grows in full sun or partial shade and thrives in well-draining soils. It can grow up to 20ft (6m) tall and reach a width of up to 8ft (2.4m). While these growth limits make it one of the skinniest and shortest trees included in this guide, this could be beneficial for those living on smaller properties.
Besides, height and growth don’t impact noise-blocking as much as needle or leaf density. The Lawson Cypress grows dense layers of foliage, with virtually zero space between each fan of branches. As such, it’s a fantastic choice for those hoping to block road noise.
The Lawson Cypress is a low-maintenance tree that doesn’t require pruning. This quality makes it a fantastic choice for those who’d like to reduce their lawn care tasks.
This tree also grows all year long and tolerates most types of soil. Still, the dense foliage might be the most significant advantage of using the Lawson Cypress to block road noise, as the tightly spaced leaves absorb sound waves with ease.
If you live in an area prone to heavy rainfall, the Lawson Cypress might not be the right noise-blocking tree for you. This tree can suffer from fungal infections and may wither if planted in constantly moist soil.
Additionally, this slow-growing tree might only grow an additional six inches (15 centimeters) taller each year. So, if you’re looking for immediate sound-blocking, you’ll likely need to plant several of these trees and space them close together.
Many of the best noise-blocking trees feature low-growing foliage that forms a pyramid shape, thinning out as it gets closer to the top of the tree. However, you can also use spreading trees, like Escarpment Live Oak, to block noises around your property.
Escarpment Live Oak grows well in Oklahoma and most areas to the south, including Texas. This tree is also highly tolerant of droughts! It can also grow up to 40ft wide, making it a top-notch choice for blocking sound.
You won’t need to water your Escarpment Live Oak trees, as these plants prefer dry soil. In addition to being an excellent option for areas prone to drought, these trees are also a perfect choice for properties with an elevation that’s lower than nearby roadways.
After all, the thick foliage of this tree is primarily located near its top, making it ideal for hillsides and low points along a property.
This type of oak thrives in dry regions that don’t experience much snowfall. However, if you live in the Northern part of North America, this tree may not survive the winter season. They also don’t do well in humid areas, as they can develop fungal problems.
Additionally, while the uppermost boughs can support plenty of sound-blocking foliage, the slimmer trunk may allow some sounds to penetrate.
Spartan Juniper has a pyramid-shaped body that provides plenty of sound-blocking coverage for property borders. In addition, it can tolerate dry soils and droughts more easily than other types of evergreens.
If you live in a humid location that experiences lots of sunshine and plenty of dry days, you’ll appreciate the hardy nature of the Spartan Juniper tree. Besides, this tree can grow up to 5ft (1.5m) wide, providing plenty of noise-blocking foliage while also looking quite refined.
The Spartan Juniper grows well throughout North America, particularly in southern regions. It grows best in hardiness zones 3 to 9, ensuring that it tolerates hotter weather more easily than other types of evergreens.
This tree also grows very quickly, and it doesn’t need constant pruning to maintain its shape. As a result, the Spartan Juniper is a fantastic choice for those who live in areas where other evergreens can’t grow.
You’ll need to plant Spartan Juniper in full sunlight to keep it healthy. It only grows to a maximum height of about 15ft (4.5m), so if you live in a shady area with lots of tree cover, your Spartan Juniper might not survive for very long.
The Norway Spruce grows well throughout most of North America (in hardiness zones 3 to 7), making it one of the most compatible noise-blocking trees.
With thick clusters of green needles and a potential width of up to 30ft (9m), a row of these slim spruces can provide an elegant noise-blocking wall of greenery.
The Norway Spruce grows more quickly than other spruce trees and tolerates most soil types. Consequently, they’re an excellent choice for most environments, and you won’t need to wait several years for them to grow to sound-blocking sizes.
This tree doesn’t do well in the Southernmost regions of the United States, nor does it tolerate partial sunlight. For these reasons, it’s not a suitable choice for subtropical climates or shady areas.
Trees can block out road noise by scattering, reflecting, and absorbing sound waves. The more leaves, branches, and tree bark surface in your barrier, the less sound can get through. Shorter, broad-leafed trees are better at blocking sound than those with needle-shaped leaves.
There’s a lot of research on using trees to block sound, but the general consensus is that most trees make an excellent sound break.
They also block the sight of traffic, which helps people ignore the noise. Additionally, trees create a barrier that increases privacy, blocks wind, and reduces roadside pollution from entering your yard. They’re beautiful, soothing, and attractive to birds and wildlife.
The most effective sound barrier uses mixed trees and shrubs to create a dense barrier that blocks many frequencies. So when you go shopping for trees, make sure you choose trees and shrubs of multiple sizes.
You’ll also want to select plants that are a good match for your property’s hardiness zone.
To block out noise on a busy road, you need to plant trees and shrubs as close to the road as possible. The planted strip should be moderately dense and as wide as possible. You can also add other pleasant sounds, like a running water fountain, to help mask the noise.
The best way to block road noise is to place the barrier close to the road, as close as possible. You’ll also want to allow as much space as possible between the border and your home.
A barrier placed close to your home works as a second option, but a tree barrier placed midway between your home and the road has the most minimal impact.
Besides position, the width of your sound buffer will impact how well it works.
The wider, the better, so 65-100 feet (19.81-30.48 m) is ideal if you have enough space. However, if the land is limited, a narrower strip of around 32 feet (9.75 m) is the minimum width to reduce noise levels significantly.
Here’s how to design a tree noise barrier:
- Starting closest to the roadway, plant a dense layer of shrubs. A mixture of shrubs is a good idea. Choose something that’s drought-resistant and hardy because roadside conditions are likely to be hot and harsh.
- Next, use a layer of evergreen trees planted closely together to form a hedge. Check spacing requirements for your specific selection of trees.
- Now intersperse a thick layer of broadleaf trees. Deciduous trees work well in this layer because the leaves they drop every year will add plenty of organic leaf litter to the soil. Try to make sure there’s plenty of organic material in the ground when you plant these trees.
- Finally, plant ornamental trees and shrubs inside the barrier (closer to your home). These are beautiful and will bring pleasure to you. Planting them away from the road protects them from hot asphalt and car fumes.
You could add native, non-invasive vines for variety and additional noise protection.
You can also consider tree training techniques for your trees. Espalier and pleaching are two different ways to build living fences and would work well for this project! Tree training is an artful and satisfying way to work with trees, and it’s highly beneficial to you and the trees.
- PubMed: Cardiovascular Effects of Environmental Noise: Research in Sweden
- This Old House: Everything You Need to Know About Thuja Green Giant Trees
- Gardenia.net: Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Ellwoodii’ (Lawson Cypress)
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Plant Database | Quercus fusiformis
- Monrovia: Spartan Juniper
- Arbor Day Foundation: Norway Spruce
- SDG Blog: Types of Tree Training, Pruning and Shaping