Tips for Using Plants to Reduce Noise in the Landscape

Using Plants to Reduce Noise

Unwanted noise can lead to a variety of health problems, including anxiety and hearing loss. Using plants, berms, and solid barriers together with water wise plants is an effective way to reduce unwanted sound.

Plants and other soft surfaces absorb and scatter soundwaves. Plants are also aesthetically pleasing. Using plants alone, however, is the least effective method for noise reduction in places with limited space.

Although expensive, if space is not a constraint, creating a natural or forested area might be the best option. Using water-wise plants from local plant communities can provide multiple functions of noise reduction, wildlife habitat, and enhance the sense of place.

Diagram illustrating effect of different types of barriers on noise reduction. Example 3 illustrates planting depth and placement for sound reduction.
AV Tree Farm

Noise reduction or abatement using vegetation is most effective when:

  • Planting depth is a greater than 75 to 100 feet
  • Planting height is at least 18 to 20 feet
  • Vegetation is densely planted
  • Combinations of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs are used
  • Different layers of vegetation are used
  • Vegetation is planted close to the noise source

Additional Resources:

Highway Traffic Noise Abatement
The Overstory Agroforestry Journal: Trees as Noise Buffers