By Angelina Schmidt
Whether you’re looking to create a private oasis or block peace-shattering noise, landscaping can help you with your backyard nirvana goals. Strategic landscape design can, in fact, do both. Here are some of the most effective solutions to help you get more privacy and less neighborhood noise.
Plants and shrubbery are an attractive way to help reduce noise. Evergreen plants are the most effective sound barriers. They keep their leaves and their noise-blocking effect year-round. Broadleaf evergreens are better than narrow-leaf varieties. Junipers and hollies are popular because their branches droop all the way to the ground. Use a variety of plants in layers, and plant them so you won’t have any gaps when they reach their full size. Amplify the effect by planting on a berm or raised wall.
Plants are also a visually appealing way to add privacy. Hedges, shrubs, and trees can also help soften hardscaping features like walls or fences. Living walls or vertical gardens are trendy ways to green up and shield your outdoor areas.
Walls and Fences
A solid wall will shield you from noise and prying eyes, but it’s not always the most attractive option. But you can dress it up with a row of lilac bushes or junipers. If you’re just trying to block neighborhood noise, a solid wood fence will suffice. If you’re in a noisier area or next to a busy road, you’ll need something more substantial. Masonry walls made of brick or stone are excellent choices. Modular walls and acoustic fences are designed specifically for this job. Whatever type you choose, make sure it extends all the way to the ground. You don’t want noise or unwanted animals creeping in through gaps at the bottom.
Another plus of installing a wall or fence? Instant privacy. If you opt for shrubs or trees, it may take a while for them to mature. A fence will mark your property line and keep kids and pets in and unwanted visitors out. Decorative fencing can add architectural interest to your landscaping design.
You can create privacy in defined areas of your yard with privacy panels. Wood lattice panels or trellises are stylish and easy-to-add features. Add a fast-growing ivy for extra cover (make sure you’re choosing a non-invasive ivy). Multi-purpose panels with slats or shelves are perfect for wall mounted planters or potted plants. Keep in mind, having a row of potted plants allows you to bring your garden inside for the winter.
Drown Out the Noise
Water features such as a fountain or waterfall can muffle neighborhood noise. Install a water feature on your noise-blocking wall to make it a focal point of your landscape design.
Trees with leaves that rustle and outdoor speakers for music can also help. So can wind chimes. When it comes to wind chimes, be careful you’re not adding to the noise. Too many chimes or chimes with an off-putting tone will annoy you and your neighbors.
Curtains add instant privacy, luxury, and a touch of softness to your outdoor living spaces. They’re also a great way to shade sunny spots. Choose outdoor fabrics that are water and fade-resistant.
Think of these barriers as an investment. Good fences make good neighbors, and great noise barriers allow you to get the most out of your backyard.
Angelina Schmidt is a writer and home designer who blends the best of the old and the new into her designs.