Noise pollution is an ongoing problem in these modern times where new roads and subdivisions have invaded areas that were once quiet solitudes. Undesirable noise can cause anxiety, tension, and even illness.
If noise is a problem you have two choices: move, or try to reduce it to a tolerable level. Through landscaping it may be possible to reduce noise as much as 50 percent. The type of plants used must be selected and planted carefully for best results, so here are some rule of thumb recommendations put out by Inside Agroforestry, a publication produced by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
• For best results, plant close to the noise source rather than close to the area being protected.
• When possible use taller plants with dense foliage.
• Plant trees and shrubs as close together as the species will allow without inhibiting themselves.
• Plant foliage should be continuous from the ground level up.
• Evergreen varieties offer better year-round protection
• For heavy noise reduction where you have the space, plant a 65-100 foot wide belt of trees. The edge of the buffer should be within 60-80 feet of the road or other noise source. The center trees should mature at a minimum of 45 feet tall.
• For moderate noise reduction, plant a 20-50 foot-wide belt of trees with the edge within 20-50 feet of the noise source. Use 6-8 foot shrubs next to the noise source, then plant increasingly taller layers of trees back towards the home at least 15-20 feet tall.
• The length of the buffer should be twice as long as the distance from the noise source to the house.
Steve Roark is with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry.