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What are the Best Trees for Noise Reduction?

It happens far too often. You fall in love with the perfect home and go through all the twists and turns and paperwork to make it yours. Then one Sunday afternoon when you’re trying to watch a game on television, you realize that the traffic is really noisy. The kids next door may be so noisy they’re getting on your nerves. Worse, somebody nearby has a neurotic dog that barks non-stop at flies. What do you do besides buy earplugs?

You can accomplish two goals at once by using trees and shrubs for noise barriers while putting in some attractive landscaping at the same time. When adding trees and shrubs close to a home just make sure they are not planted to close, as doing so will prevent future headaches. The right plants can give you privacy and quiet things down for you. Let’s look at some choices that look good and have foliage dense enough to turn down the noise. The best choices are those with more densely packed foliage and those that stay green all year. Let’s take a look at some good choices available that grow well in the Virginia climate.

trees around home

Arborvitaes 

Arborvitaes trees are evergreens with surprisingly soft, almost fern-like foliage. They can be planted more closely together than any other kind of tree. Two staggered rows of these will really block out some volume and make a very attractive privacy fence. They aren’t prone to disease or insects except for the occasional bagworm. These form brown, woven bags about 1-2 inches long, covered with tiny sticks that hang from twigs. These contain the female and/or eggs. The males look like plain greyish moths, flying from bag to bag to find the females within. The females never form wings, staying in a caterpillar state. They don’t require spraying to eradicate, as the bags can easily be plucked off and destroyed, preventing next year’s crop of insects. These pests really don’t do any visible damage except for the unsightliness of the bags.

Hollies 

These do not have quite as dense a foliage as arborvitaes, they actually absorb the most sound. Both tree and shrub forms can provide noise reduction all year round, as they stay green all winter. American Holly tree and Nellie Stevens Holly are great choices. Nellie sports attractive berries and grows to 20 feet high and up to 18 feet wide. The American Holly can get to 50 feet tall. Both varieties tend to grow quickly, forming a fine, attractive noise barrier.

Cypress 

Certain cypress  tree varieties also muffle sound effectively. Both Italian and Leyland Cypress trees can be planted in a hedge formation and provide a good-looking sound baffle. They also stay green all year, making a great privacy hedge as well. Leyland Cypress especially is a fast-growing variety, so you’ll get the noise canceling benefits more quickly.

Magnolia 

Some species feature broad leaves that deaden sound and stay green all year. Teddy Bear and Little Gem magnolias grow in almost the whole state of Virginia, with the exception of the far western border. They don’t reach the size of the magnolia most people envision at the mention of the name, but their foliage is more closely packed, making them good choices for getting some peace and quiet. Proper maintenance against foliage starved pests is important for a healthy growth which equals greater noise reduction.You can’t beat the beauty of the blooms, either.

Juniper  

These trees also make good sound barriers. While they aren’t known for growing quickly, they stay green year-round and have the dense foliage you need. Eastern red cedar is a juniper and is what people think of when talking about junipers. They are not prone to insect damage or disease. They produce the fragrant berries used in making gin, and the foliage itself has a pleasant scent. They attract both butterflies and birds. They also make good privacy and security hedges. It’s tough for a person to penetrate a cedar hedge, especially since the inner branches of larger trees contain dead needles which would deter any would-be invader. The common juniper is the only other juniper that grows in Virginia. It’s actually more of a low-growing shrub and would not be useful for noise cancellation. 

Planting a sound barrier with various trees can not only deaden the noise and make your yard more attractive but it could raise the value of your property and increase curb appeal when you need to sell. It’s a good way to make your home more livable without knocking on the neighbor’s door and asking him to tone the noise down. Plant your trees, watch them grow, then sit down, turn on the television and relax!

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