The Complete Guide to Soundproofing Your Garden


how to soundproof a garden

As soon as summer comes around, I always look forward to spending time in the garden. However, I’m sure most people can agree that there’s nothing worse than loads of noise pollution when you’re trying to relax.

This led me to look for ways to soundproof my garden. Surprisingly, there are plenty of things you can do to soundproof your garden. However, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll never get it completely soundproof, unless you build a giant glass dome.

This article is my complete guide to soundproofing your garden. Before I offer my list of solutions, I look at some questions to get you prepared for the project. Just made sure your DIY skills are up to scratch!

Getting started 

Before you get started fitting soundproofing solutions in your home, it’s worth thinking about some important questions. I’ve covered these in this section so that you’ll hopefully be able to plan your project more thoroughly.

As with all soundproofing projects, it’s worth planning everything out in detail before you get started. The main reason is that different sources of noise pollution require different solutions, so you can end up wasting time if you pick the wrong ones.

Here are the main questions you should ask yourself when planning to soundproof your garden:

What are the sources of noise pollution?

All sounds can be split into 2 categories: airborne noise and impact noise. These are both pretty clear, but impact noise is the sound of an object hitting a surface, such as footsteps or slamming doors. Airborne noise, however, is exactly what it sounds like: sound carried in the air.

I also explain impact and airborne noise in my article on soundproofing ceilings. Go, check it out.

In your garden, it’s fair to assume that airborne noise will be your major problem. However, this is also the most difficult to control in an outside space, as you’d have to put a soundproof barrier all around your garden. This, of course, isn’t that practical.

Common source of impact noise in the garden could be things like construction work, neighbors, or vibrations from heavy vehicle traveling on a road. Low, bass frequencies travel much farther, which is why lorries can be heard so far away.

There are some soundproofing fixes for both sources of noise pollution, but obviously it’s worth mentioning that all you’ll really be able to do about airborne noise is reduce the amount that makes it into your garden. How much you reduce it by will depend on how many soundproofing solutions you use.

It’s also worth considering the distance of the noise pollution, as this will impact what kind of soundproofing solutions you’ll need to use. For example, it’s much easier to reduce the sound of road traffic in the distance than it is to soundproof against noisy neighbors.

If you’re looking for solutions on how to reduce noise from your neighbor’s yard, then you’ll have a much harder time. This is mostly because of distance, as the noise sources will be much closer and so will be harder to block effectively.

Am I stopping sound from getting in or out?

While the solutions are the same for blocking sounds from entering or exiting a space, there are other ways to look at this issue. For example, if you’re stopping sound from getting out of your garden, then it might be worth just moving the source elsewhere if practical. This will save you plenty of time and money.

Also, if you’re trying to manage the acoustics of your own garden, then you can use other materials too. Using acoustic treatments such as sound baffles will reduce the amount of noise pollution that escapes your garden while also improving sound quality within the space.

What’s my budget?

Budget is one of the most important things when planning any project. I always make sure I do plenty of research to see what products I need to buy before even considering a budget. This helps me to be much more realistic with the limits I set.

There are no two ways about it: soundproofing projects can get very expensive. This will obviously be dependent on the size of the space you’re working with, but also on the types of materials you use.

Specific soundproofing materials, such as sound deadening mats or mass loaded vinyl (Amazon links), can be pretty expensive, especially if you need enough to soundproof a garden. It’s worth searching these materials online so you can get a rough idea for how much this kind of project costs.

There are cheaper alternatives available, but you should also remember that whatever you’re building outside has to be weatherproof, and both of these materials are. Standard budget soundproofing options, such as blankets and curtains, obviously won’t work in this situation.

Also, it’s always worth setting yourself an extra 10% of your budget aside for emergencies. I’ve planned and built plenty of soundproofing projects, and just like any other DIY project, unexpected costs can pop out of nowhere. It’s always handy to have a bit of wiggle room in your budget to deal with these problems.

Sound attenuation or sound deflection?

Most soundproofing solutions fall into the categories of sound attenuation or deflection. Deflection is when the sound waves are bounced back at the source (also referred to as blocking them). Sound deflectors are generally hard, solid surfaces with minimal elasticity.

Sound attenuation, however, is the process of dispersing or absorbing sound waves. This is more related to echo and reverberation, as the sound waves are stopped from bouncing around a space.

However, this indirectly also helps with soundproofing, as sound waves being absorbed reduces the overall volume of the sound. If you’re looking for effective soundproofing in your garden, then it’s definitely worth using both sound deflection and sound attenuation.

How to soundproof your garden

Covering these basic questions should give you a better understanding of the nature of your project. Knowing what your noise sources are, including distance, will help you plan the right barriers against them. So, here are my top methods for soundproofing your garden.

  1. Plant hedges around the garden
  2. Acoustic barrier fence
  3. Build a garden shed
  4. Soundproof your existing fence
  5. Build a wall
  6. Find ways to mask the sound

Now, let’s see each one in detail.

1. Plant hedges around the garden

soundproof hedges

The most logical place to start in the garden is probably with plants. A tall, bushy hedge is a must-have in almost any garden, if not only for the privacy it brings to the space. What’s more, a hedge will do a surprising amount for noise levels in your garden.

A thick hedge relies more on sound attenuation, as the hedge’s surface “traps” sound waves, much in the same way as acoustic foam. Because a hedge isn’t very dense, sound waves will still get through, but they’ll be more muffled.

Obviously, hedges take a long time to grow. Realistically, you’re probably looking at between 5 and 10 years to get a hedge that would be effective against noise pollution. This won’t be particularly practical for anyone looking for more immediate solutions.

However, you can get more established pot-grown hedge bushes, which will give you a head start over buying smaller plants. I regularly see potted hedge plants 7 or 8ft tall in my local store! Do bear in mind that these will be much more expensive though.

Having an established hedge on the border of your garden will do a pretty good job at muffling the sound of road traffic. Not only that, but the hedge will even make its own noise when it’s windy, which is a much more pleasant sound than road traffic.

If you’re looking to start a hedge from smaller trees, then I’d recommend building a fence behind it so you can actually add some soundproofing materials. You should be able to remove the fence after 4 or 5 years, but by that point you may decide to keep it.

Planting up a hedge is a good idea in almost any case, providing you’ve got the room. It’ll add greenery to the space, along with being nice to look at. What’s more, you can begin training creeping vines up a hedge after a few years, making it look even nicer.

2. Acoustic barrier fence

Unsurprisingly, noise pollution in gardens is a common problem. So much so that manufacturers have started producing acoustic barrier fences designed to deal with this exact problem. But are these products actually any good?

The answer to that question, as usual, depends on which company you’re looking at. Much of the product’s effectiveness is in its construction and design, and the materials used. One with poorer quality materials is just going to be a waste of your money because it won’t do the job you want it to.

Acoustic fences are basically constructed in the same way as drywall: they’ve got 2 outside faces, generally made of wood, and then an interior core of soundproofing material. This interior material might be something like mass loaded vinyl or fiber wool.

These fences generally work on sound deflection, as they have a dense, solid core that reflects sound waves back at the source. This kind of barrier is exactly what you want for effectively managing nearby sources of noise.

If you decide to go for acoustic barrier fences, it’ll be worth looking for a specialist in your area, and then discussing previous jobs with them. I’d recommend seeing some of their acoustic barrier fences in action, as their quality will depend entirely on the materials used.

While you can buy these products online, it’s worth testing them out before committing to buy. After all, acoustic fences aren’t cheap, and you could be wasting a lot of money if you don’t try them first.

I’d also recommend getting them installed because their efficiency will depend on it. For example, products like this are usually good at blocking higher frequency sounds, but not as good for lower frequency ones. An improperly installed fence could rattle against the other panels, which doesn’t really solve the original problem.

Barrier fences should be useful against all sources of noise pollution, and should even be effective against noisy neighbors. However, bear in mind that you’ll want them to be higher than normal fences, and because they have to be solid you’ll automatically lose any view you had.

3. Build a garden shed

soundproof garden shed

If I had to recommend the most effective way of soundproofing a garden, it’d be to build a shed or summer home in your garden. Realistically, this would allow you to use standard interior soundproofing methods in a garden space.

For example, if you built a wooden shed and lined it with mass loaded vinyl or sound deadening mats, you’re going to do a much better job of blocking sound than trying to work outside. If you get the right kind of shed, you could even have both doors open so you’re almost outside and still do a great job of reducing noise.

What’s more, a shed can act as a pretty effective sound barrier for the rest of the garden too. A common problem in gardens is echo chambers, which can be produced through alleyways or openings in walls. These allow sound waves to bounce around and amplify, which can make even the most minor noise annoying.

Building a shed in front of the entrance to an alleyway or an opening in a wall will basically create a solid barrier against which the sound waves will reflect. This should drastically reduce noise levels in your garden, particularly from more direct noises coming from roads.

However, the major drawback of building a shed is that it can be expensive. Also, many people might not have the room to build a full size shed, but you could always build something smaller instead and get the same results. That said, building a shed isn’t that worthwhile if you’re dealing with noisy neighbors.

Overall, using a shed as a small soundproof space within your garden is much more effective than trying to soundproof the whole area. This is what I’ve done in my garden, and I’m perfectly happy to sit inside the shed with the doors open, and it’s surprisingly peaceful in there.

4. Soundproofing your existing fence

If you’ve already got a fence in your garden, it makes little sense to tear it down and replace it with a new one. Instead, I’d consider ways to make it more soundproof, which shouldn’t be too difficult.

Firstly, I’d recommend only doing this to either a wooden or vinyl fence. A chain-link fence will be more trouble than it’s worth, as the structure isn’t solid enough to really support heavy materials. A chain-link fence rattles in the wind too, so it’s clearly not a great place to start.

What’s more, it should be a solid fence, rather than one with decorative patterns in it. If the fence has any holes, work on blocking these up before you start applying more materials over the top. You need full coverage around the garden as your starting point, as this will give you a good surface to work with.

Also, you’ll need to make sure the fence is at least 6ft high, but I personally wouldn’t go any smaller than 7ft. The majority of noise pollution you’re trying to block likely comes from human sources, so it makes sense for your fence to be taller than people. This should do a good job of blocking sound from your neighbor’s yard.

Once you’ve got a solid and sturdy base, you can begin soundproofing. Realistically, this isn’t much different from soundproofing an interior wall, but you obviously need to ensure that everything you attach to the fence is weatherproof. After all, you don’t want to be replacing it all in a year or two.

For this reason, I’d stick to either mass loaded vinyl or vehicle sound deadening mats. Both of these products are very effective at blocking sound waves because they’re dense materials with very little elasticity. Which you choose will be more dependent on your budget than anything else, but there are practical differences between them.

Mass loaded vinyl
Mass loaded vinyl is great for garden soundproofing

Mass loaded vinyl (check prices on Amazon) generally comes in a large roll, meaning you’ll need to cut it to size before fixing to the fence. Because you’re doing this outside, looks don’t matter as much, so I’d just nail it straight onto the fence. Alternatively, you can use staples, but make sure they’re heavy duty because mass loaded vinyl is heavy.

Sound deadening mats might be more practical in this situation. Brands like Dynamat and Hushmat (see them on Amazon) come in panels rather than a roll, as they’re designed for use in vehicle interiors. This makes them easier to work with in small spaces, but the same is true for large surfaces.

Read my article on sound deadener which includes a video on the demonstrated performance.

The mats usually have a self-adhesive backing too, which makes application a breeze. However, I haven’t tested these outside to see how the glue holds up in rain, so it might be worth adding a few nails just for good measure.

Regardless of which material you choose, I’d recommend covering it in something, such as a layer of wooden panels. More than anything, neither of these products look that nice, so you’ll probably want something a bit more attractive to look at in your garden.

This is especially true for sound deadening mats because these often have foil backing for thermal insulation. The last thing you want is a foil-lined fence, as this will be pretty bright when the sun shines.

5. Build a wall

If you’re not in the mood to transform your fence using soundproofing materials, then you can just go all out and build yourself a brick wall. This is one of the best solutions for blocking nearby sounds from entering your garden.

I’d recommend using bricks over breezeblocks, but both are fine when it comes to soundproofing. My preference for bricks is mainly for looks, but I also think bricks are denser than breezeblocks, which is what you want in this situation.

Brick walls are very dense, which means it’s difficult for sound waves to pass through them. You might still experience some very low bass rumbles from passing lorries, but a brick wall will effectively block out almost everything else.

Also, unlike fences, they usually have a much more stable base, meaning there’s less movement in the overall structure. Rigidity is helpful when it comes to soundproofing because it means the vibrations have a harder time passing through the structure.

If you decide to build a wall, I’d recommend going at least 6ft high, if not 7 or 8. Obviously this means you’ll lose any view you had, but it’s worth it for the privacy and noise reduction. Also, you can grow creeping vines up a wall, so after a year or two it’ll look lovely anyway.

The major drawback of building a wall is that you might need planning permission, depending on local regulations and the nature of the structure. Check with your local authorities before going any further with this idea, as you might end up stuck.

There’s also the matter of budget to consider because walls can be pretty expensive to build. Much of this cost is in labor rather than materials, so you could save plenty of money building it yourself if you know how.

6. Find ways to mask the sound

One of the more budget-friendly options for soundproofing your garden is to simply mask the noise with something more pleasant. Sure, this doesn’t solve the problem, but it definitely makes it easier to deal with.

Obviously, these options won’t be the best for blocking out noisy neighbors, but they should help with more distant sounds, such as road traffic. If you’re looking to mask noise pollution in your garden, try these options:

Water feature

Having a water feature in your garden not only looks lovely, but is also a great way of covering up noises. The sound of trickling water is really relaxing and will be a great distraction from the noisy road.

If you place a water feature between you and the source of the noise, you should hopefully only be able to hear the water running. This will obviously mean careful planning, and isn’t a practical solution if you have several sources of noise.

This option will also mean you need to pick a spot that you want to be peaceful. You may already have one of these in your garden, and so you can just work with that. Find the most practical place to put the water feature so that it blocks most of the noise.

Your best option here would be a fountain, or a stream with a waterfall. Running water won’t be loud enough for most sounds, so go for something a bit more energetic.

The main problem here is that water features can be expensive to run and annoying to keep clean. However, if you like spending time in your garden, then the occasional fountain clean shouldn’t be too much bother.

Trees or grass

Another great solution for creating white noise in your garden is to plant foliage. Not only will this help to attenuate noise, like with hedges, but it’ll also create a more relaxing sound when the wind blows.

If you’re able to plant trees, things like pine trees are great, as are oak and elm. However, these obviously take quite a long time to grow, so aren’t too practical.

A good alternative would be something like bamboo, as this is fast growing and makes a lovely noise. Just be sure to get a non-invasive species otherwise it’ll take over your whole garden.

Another option is to use ornamental grasses, which are really easy to get hold of. They’re often used in sensory gardens for the noise they make, so they’ll be a great choice for masking the sound of nearby road traffic.

Wind chimes

Wind chimes might not be the most effective solution, but they’ll certainly help to mask the noise of nearby traffic. I’ve got several wind chimes set up in my garden to help mask sounds, and I find they certainly add to overall sound quality.

The most important thing here is to not rely solely on wind chimes. For example, I’d couple them with a water feature or soundproof fence, as they won’t do much good on their own. Think of wind chimes as the final dressing to the rest of your soundproofing solutions.

Some final thoughts

I found that there are plenty of options to try when soundproofing your garden. I’d recommend trying as many as possible, as some will work better in your space than others. However, also bear in mind that you won’t fully soundproof your garden, but you should be able to make a considerable reduction in noise pollution.

Thanks for reading! Check out my top recommended products for soundproofing.

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