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Deflect noise pollution to create calming spaces
Sage Johnson | April 23, 2015

Hardscaping doesn’t have to include high walls to make an effect on noise reduction. When properly placed, short structures can be equally effective.

A beautiful backyard retreat can be anything but serene when bombarded by noise pollution such as the sounds of traffic, airports, schools and rail lines. that noise pollution affects our psychological health and can cause hypertension, stress, hearing loss, sleep disturbances and other harmful effects. Create a calming – and healthy – oasis for clients by including noise-reducing elements in your landscape design.

Reduce unwanted noise by as much as 50 percent with a  that includes a combination of distance, structures and vegetation.


Plant material is one of the most effective sound absorbing solutions available.

Building a series of 2- to 4-foot-high berms between the yard and sound source is one of the most cost-effective ways of mitigating unwanted sound. Bobbie Schwartz, owner of Bobbie’s Green Thumb, a landscape design company in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and president of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), told that berms should have a gradual slope on each side to prevent erosion. “They can be really beautiful,” Schwartz said. “You can vary plant textures, forms, shapes and colors.”

Hardscape elements like stone, concrete, wood or brick walls are another effective sound-reducing strategy, but bigger isn’t necessarily better. A short wall installed close to a sound source has the same noise-reducing effect as a larger structure further from the source. You can also incorporate a series of panels of varying heights staggered throughout the landscape in conjunction with berms or walls.

Plant materials can also help absorb noise, while the sounds of water features like a bubbling fountain or stream can mask noise.


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