Landscaping used as noise abatement

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Mary Basso, Aug 20, 2005.

  1. Mary Basso

    Mary Basso Member

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    Location:
    Davis, California
    I would like to know what landscaping plants would be best for noise abatement. Could you plant these on a berm? How high would the berm need to be. Our property is next to a stream and on the other side of the stream (about 1500 feet away) is a road that can be noisy at times. We would like to reduce the noise as much as possible and maintain the asthetics of the stream which we share with a neighbor. Another idea was a clear acrylic fence or a AlphaSound fighter noise wall that plants can cover or grow on. Our property is 20 acres. Please send your ideas. Mary
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The berm, if high enough, would help. The plants won't, noise goes right through foliage. Ever take a walk in the woods, near a highway? Think about how close it seemed and you'll realize how little plants will do for a noise problem.
     
  3. Carol Ja

    Carol Ja Active Member 10 Years

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    I'd go with the burm. I would also talk to a reputable Landscape Architect about your options, there maybe a solution your not thinking about.
    Carol Ja
     
  4. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Berm will help, foliage will not as Ron B has already pointed out. I have a book (Hillier book of tree planting and management) that says specifically
    " Noise
    Noise is not reduced significantly by the foliage and trunks of trees; the actual amount of noise energy absorbed will cause reduction of only a few decibels. To achieve a significant lowering of noise, some form of solid barrier is needed, either an earth mound or wall, to absorb or deflect the noise. Trees, however, are very useful on the "out of sight, out of mind" principle; they will significantly reduce the apparent or perceived noise level. Combined with a solid barrier, such as an earth mound, they can be very useful."
     
  5. douglas

    douglas Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi
    Yes all above would help.
    Berm: Not only does the size but the shape (slope/peak pitch will play a huge role,

    Frequency of the noise you need to block out, High or low. will determine this.

    Foliage will help a quite a bit with high freq noise( due to it being a shorter wavelength and easier to deflect) than low freq.(longer wavelength)

    Have a pro come in and measure what type/level of noise that you are dealing with.( they should have a monitoring device that will record the low and the peak for at least a 24 hour period.

    Ideally you should try to get permision to locate the berm bettween the road and the creek.(as the white noise from the creek will also help to drown out the background noise.)

    Regards Doug
     
  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  7. dghicks

    dghicks Member

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    It generally takes a mature forest of about 200 metres depth to attenuate traffic noise, so clearly planting to absorb the sound is impractical: a berm is quite useful, but depending on the scale involved, can be a massive investment of money and resources: you would require a berm to run the length of the road exposure. I have managed some success in similar situations through planting bamboo, poplar, or aspen: the idea being that the small, dense leaf canopy generates a fairly constant rustling sound which provides an acoustic focal point that draws the ear away from the traffic sound. Essentially, rather than outright blocking the sound, you want to "trick" the ear/mind by overriding the low frequency traffic sound with a higher frequency, more localized, natural sound.

    Regards,

    D. Hicks
     
  8. Manish

    Manish Member

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    Hi there,

    New member facing an old problem!

    I live on a corner plot, with standard 6ft wooden fencing around the garden. The garden faces a busy road.

    I have had some people in to quote me to plant some conifer trees but is not the cheapest option.

    Could not help noticing the comment about how bamboo can help with the noise.

    How would that work with my current fencing?

    Waiting in anticipation!

    Manish.
     
  9. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Generally, a berm, wall, or similar must be high enough to block the sightline between the tires (and modified mufflers) and you. Most of the roadway noise originates from there. A higher berm can be useful for wind noise or truck engine noise, but both are less of a factor than tire noise.

    If there is reflective sound because of someone elses berm, wall, or similar, berm placement & shape would need to be modified to take care of that as well.

    Simon
     
  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    High concrete walls have been put up here in WA to abate freeway noise.
     
  11. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I have noticed the same thing here, not sure of the effectiveness but the idea seems solid.
     
  12. Manish

    Manish Member

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    Thanks Smives for your prompt reply. As far as a berm goes, I already have a 6ft wooden fence around the garden, is this ok?

    Bamboo has been suggested to eliviate road noise, but how am I able to use this with my existing 6ft wooden fence?
    Manish.
     
  13. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    A wood fence is better than nothing but really, it's not a very effective means of sound reduction. For very effective reduction, you either need mass (concrete, berm, etc) for sound reflection or soft material (styrofoam, acoustic panels) for sound absoprtion.

    Wood does not have enough of either. The sound either comes through the spaces between boards or will simply transmit straight through the wood.

    Bamboo, like any vegetation, is a poor sound reduction strategy. The vegetation density is too low to be effective. If you're thinking of a bamboo fence, it will work better than a wood fence, but only a little bit better. The hollow culms and rounded surface do a better job of sound reflection and absorption than wood would. Can't be any spaces between the culms though.

    Simon
     

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